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Sunday, January 10, 2016

Need a Powerful Method of Reflection?

When I was in college to become a teacher, one of the most valuable things I learned was the skill of reflection. One method of reflection we were encouraged to utilize was to video ourselves teaching and reflect on our performance. What a powerful tool! It is absolutely amazing what you will notice about yourself and your students when you are looking from the outside in. Maybe you ignored Sally's raised hand or that little Billy was focused on picking his nose rather than absorbing your brilliant lesson. The next time you teach, you'll be more aware of the raised hands and, um, little Billy's hygiene.

Using a Flip camera was my first line of attack. During my first few years of teaching, I was able to use my Flip camera to fine tune many teaching methods. These ranged from making sure my mini lessons were mini, to making sure my Number Talk lessons were on target. One thing that stands out to me with Number Talks was the realization that I was doing more talking than the kids. I was then able to refine my performance to let kids do most of the talking.  It made a pronounced difference!

A screenshot from a Swivl video
The only problem at this point was, I had to stay in the same general area to make sure I got everything on film. Finally, after my second Flip camera kicked the proverbial bucket, I stopped filming. But hey, I was an experienced teacher by then...right?

Enter the Swivl!
At Learning at Lovejoy, the Professional Development conference my district hosts every summer, I saw it. The Swivl!! I swear the clouds parted majestically and gleaming rays of sunshine shone on it...but maybe that was just my overactive imagination. The camera was filming the speaker...and I get a bit choked up at this part... the camera was following her! In case you missed it...it was following her! Wow! It catches the voices and the video.

I put it to the test as soon as I could get my hands on it! A couple of years had passed since I'd last seriously filmed myself. I was surprised at what I saw. The first outstanding thing that jumped out at me was I need to lose weight that even though I have grown as a teacher, I still have a lot of growth that needs to take place. I noticed that I still need to let the kids do more talking in some areas. My mini-lessons aren't mini enough in writing. Hmm, is there a pattern here? I also noticed that sometimes I stop questioning students before digging deeply enough. While I've improved greatly from my first years as a teacher, I now see a need for growth in the same areas, but in slightly different ways. I find that to be a striking argument for continued self-analysis and goal setting.

What Have I Learned?
Never stop reflecting as a teacher. Don't quit using video reflection. I cannot recommend this enough for any teacher that sincerely wants to grow and develop their craft. Whether you use a Flip, iPad, iPhone, or Swivl, our students need us to be at our best every day, and using video is an easy way to help yourself be the best you can be.