Synergizing the professional development of teachers through videotaping, critical reflection & peer feedback

Date: July 17, 2010 (Sat)

Venue: Nishibu Kouminkan (Gakuenmae)

Presenters: Greg Dunne and Sean Toland

Reviewer: Alessandro “Alex” Stanciu

Professional development among athletes in various sports often involves the use of videotaping and countless hours of close examination of the tape in order to pinpoint any flaws which, once corrected, could lead to an improvement in their overall performance.  These professionals view the video camera as an essential tool in polishing their techniques; the same cannot be said, however, for other professionals, particularly teachers.  In the teaching profession… videotaping is often viewed as an evaluative tool, and frequently utilized in a teacher’s pre-service practicum.  Once this pre-service period has finished, there is not much perceived benefit of the video camera.  In their presentation, Greg Dunne and Sean Toland set out to explain how the video camera can actually be used as a very powerful tool for professional development among teachers.

At the beginning of their presentation, they had the attendees separate into groups of four and spend a few minutes discussing a list of questions (see jpeg 1 below) they had prepared on the topic of professional development related to teaching. Then, referencing work carried out over the past four decades by various experts, they set out to demonstrate how a well-planned, structured videotaping project can lead to tangible improvements in the classroom.

Their project consisted of videotaping a number of university English classes in such a way that all students verified that the presence of video cameras impacted on neither teacher nor student performance and that the lesson designs themselves, did not significantly deviate from those of regular lessons. Each videotaping was followed by critical self-reflection, and later critical peer feedback from colleagues.  This willingness to openly share video of each other’s classes created an environment whereby the instructors could comfortably provide and receive critical feedback on the classroom performances, knowing they were all working toward a common goal, that of mutual professional teacher improvement. (see jpeg 2 and 3 below)

In their presentation, Greg and Sean also pointed out some of the technical, logistical, and technological issues which need to be addressed in setting out to implement a videotaping project. (see jpeg 4 below)  These included matters such as obtaining consensus among students, staff, and administrators and also addressed factors such as camera positioning, lighting, sound, and software by which to view and record feedback for each video.  In their presentation, they highlighted Video Paper Builder as one such tool which they found useful in their project.

In conclusion, they found that the benefits which can be realized from a properly planned videotaping project are well worth the efforts, and argue that the video camera should be seen as yet another powerful tool in the professional development suite of tools which teachers have at their disposal.  The presentation was very interesting in that it challenged us to think of a video camera in our classrooms as a friend versus a foe, and demonstrated to us how a properly planned videotaping project, can lead to tangible improvements in our classroom performance.

Thank you to both Greg and Sean for an informative and enlightening evening.

Greg Dunne: EFL Program Coordinator, Osaka Shoin Women’s University

Greg Dunne has followed on from a high school English teaching career in his native Australia by teaching EFL in Japanese universities for the past 12 years. Currently, he is a tenured instructor at Osaka Shoin Women’s University where he coordinates the EFL program. He holds a Masters in Applied Linguistics (TESOL) degree from Macquarie University, a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Tasmania and a Diploma in Teaching from Sydney Advanced College of Education. His research interests include teacher development, CALL, task-based learning and world Englishes.

Sean Toland EFL Instructor, Osaka Shoin Women’s University

Sean Toland has taught English as a foreign language in Japan and Korea at every level from elementary to University.  In addition to his EFL experience, he has also spent three years teaching high school students in two geographically remote Inuit settlements in Canada’s far north.  Sean holds a Masters in Education degree from Brock University, a diploma in Education from McGill University, and an Honours B.A. with a double major in History and Religion & Culture from Wilfrid Laurier University.  He is currently working as an English instructor at Osaka Shoin Women’s University in Osaka, Japan.

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One response to “Synergizing the professional development of teachers through videotaping, critical reflection & peer feedback

  1. Great work there Alex and many many thanks for doing it.
    Trina Takeuchi

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