5 Ways Lesson Recording Transformed My Teaching Practice
By my ninth year of teaching, lesson recording had become second nature. But for many teachers, the idea of recording our practice regularly is about as appealing as meatloaf Mondays in the cafeteria. Whatever your reasons (valid or otherwise) for hesitating, there’s no doubt that making lesson recording a regular part of your practice will have a powerfully transformative impact on your classroom. Additionally, lesson recording and archiving have never been easier with devices such as the HoverCam Pilot and Solo 8plus document cameras which make creating and sharing recorded content simple and intuitive. Once I committed to overcoming my aversion and began lesson recording regularly, I started to notice more and more powerful benefits affecting everything from my students’ performance to my work/life balance. Here are the top 5 benefits I unlocked simply by lesson recording more often.
#1) Perhaps the most powerful reflection tool at your disposal
Teaching is one of those professions which demands constant improvement and growth. The sometimes-frustrating truth is that while teachers are expected to constantly refine their practice, we are often not given any specific guidance or tools to do this. We’re also often forced to teach in isolation without any opportunities to observe the practice of others or have our practice observed. At my previous school, there were several extremely effective teachers whom I often wanted to observe and learn from but could not line up our schedules to make it happen. Once my colleagues and I started recording our lessons regularly, we were able to observe each other at our own convenience and offer constructive feedback. Even if you’re not looking to build a network of peer observations, just being able to observe yourself and your students will help you identify opportunities for improving your instructional delivery as well as non-pedagogical habits such as posture, facial expressions, and movement patterns. Recording your lessons and archiving them also helps build a digital teaching portfolio for end-of-year performance review or National Board certification.
#2) Absent students: reach without having to reteach
There’s nothing new about the challenges teachers face whenever a student is absent. Upon the absent student’s return, there are any number of logistical challenges to overcome, but the biggest hurdle for me was always having to reteach any new content that was covered during their absence. Once I began to lesson record regularly, I found I had a bank of “ready-to-play” lessons which my students could access and re-watch at their convenience even from the comfort of their own home. This was useful for students who needed extra review but was also a powerful way to keep absent students connected to the content they would have otherwise missed. If you upload your lessons to a cloud service or to your class website (something that can be done seamlessly using the HoverCam’s KnoteSter archive manager), students can access critical information from the comfort of their temporarily quarantined home.
#3) Parent’s helping with homework
How often have you been expected to teach a new math technique that’s radically different from the techniques most of your students’ parents grew up using? I remember my voicemail inbox being flooded with parent questions about what the heck “lattice multiplication” was. I felt like a broken record as I called back each parent one-by-one and repeated my long explanation of the unconventional technique, all without any visual aids to supplement what I was saying. Lesson recording to the rescue! Once I overcame my aversion to recording myself, I realized I could record one quick (about 5min) video explanation with visual aids, and simply post the explanation to our class website or google drive. Thus, all my students’ parents had access to content they could pause and rewind at their own convenience and pace. It’s almost impossible to maintain a reasonable work/life balance as a teacher, so I’m always eager to find ways of working “smarter, not harder.” Recording “homework help” videos has saved me countless hours over the years.
#4) Take your centers to the next level
Centers are a powerful way to incorporate meaningful differentiation into your practice, but the logistics of setting your students up to use centers independently can be a bit of a hurdle. I would often have to spend several minutes at the start of my centers block explaining the activities or reviewing expectations. Once I started using my document camera to record instructions, I found I could record a brief introduction video explaining a learning activity (complete with a visual demonstration) then set up my laptop at the center with headphones and my students could simply watch the instructional video once they had rotated to the new center. This saved me a lot of repetition and supported students who needed extra time to digest instructions, leading to a more smooth and successful centers program.
#5) Improved classroom management
The holy grail of teacher sanity must be classroom management. When your management is clicking well, and your students are dialed in, you’re able to hit a zone in which everything flows more easily, and little time is wasted. So, imagine my delight when I realized a simple truth about lesson recording: students behave better when they know they’re being recorded! Whenever I announced I was lesson recording, students knew that the lesson could be seen by any number of people, including the principal or their parents, and they consciously put on their best face. Granted, if you lesson record everything, your students are going to become desensitized to the act, but when used strategically, you can leverage the increased accountability to ensure that any given lesson has a better chance of flowing smoothly without management interruptions. This can be a life-saver!
Of course, there are any number of additional benefits you’ll reap from integrating more lesson recording into your practice. Tools such as the HoverCam Pilot and Solo 8Plus camera make it easier than ever to dive right into the world of lesson recording and sharing. There really has never been a better time to give regular lesson recording a try!