Teacher, observe thyself!

“Know thyself” has always been one of my favorite lessons from antiquity.  This week, I have been busy using the niceties of technology to truly know myself as a teacher.  I filmed my class three times this week, and my Saturday afternoon has been devoted to watching these videos.  I’ve learned a lot about myself as a teacher.  Some of my perceptions about my class have been confirmed.  I am a very patient teacher, we may spend too much time reviewing homework, and my students are actively engaged and have a great sense of camaraderie.  I have noticed some areas to be more attentive about: being more observant of the entire class during group work and making sure my sentences are clear and not-rambling when I teach.  I have also noticed some interesting quirks that may be distracting, endearing, or helpful to my students: my frequent use of the word “so” and hand gestures.  And I noticed something else that I do well: watch the clock and adjust teaching methods to make the best use of the time remaining in class.  Overall, it has been a very good experience for me.  I am very pleased to see how skilled I am as a teacher and to see the comfortable and respectful environment that my students and I have created.  I am certainly considering videotaping myself teach in other types of classes too, both for my own benefit and for applications.

How I did it

I rented a video camera and tripod from the university library, and I set them up in the back of my classroom.  After I set the camera to record, I left it alone until the end of class.  At the beginning of class, I announced to my students that there was a camera recording and why I was recording the class. I also asked students to let me know if they had a problem with me posting a video with them to YouTube, so that I could edit them out and so that I could share the video in the future.  Although one student said she would be on her best behavior because of the video camera, there was no real change in the students’ or my behavior.  This is also why I taped classes for three days–to make sure I had a good representation of my class.

I know my friends have had other people film the class (to help with zooming and camera angles in different sized rooms), and other teachers have had people decide when their class would be filmed (so that a random day would be a good representation of a class).

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