'It's slightly awkward': Why schools are filming teachers
Advertisement

'It's slightly awkward': Why schools are filming teachers

Rob Hayward strides to the back of the classroom and hits the record button.

As students file into his Year 7 Latin class, the camera starts recording the teacher’s every move: the types of questions he asks, the position of his body and who he makes eye contact with.

Brighton Grammar teacher Rob Hayward, left, discusses his teaching video with coach Mark Dowley

Brighton Grammar teacher Rob Hayward, left, discusses his teaching video with coach Mark DowleyCredit:Eddie Jim

One week later, the Brighton Grammar teacher sits down with a coach to review this footage on a large screen. The scene is similar to a football team digesting video of a recent match.

“You literally get a different perspective on how the lesson went,” Mr Hayward said.

Advertisement

“It’s slightly awkward. You pick up on all sorts of things ... how you walk, how you talk and your mannerisms. But I love to reflect to see what worked well and what didn’t.”

Brighton Grammar is among a growing number of Victorian schools that are filming teachers in a bid to improve students’ results.

It’s a technique common in “instructional coaching” – a model where an expert coach helps a teacher reflect on how they teach, identify strategies for improvement and set goals.

The independent school has based its approach on the work of the University of Kansas' Dr Jim Knight, who says video is essential because people don’t have insight into what they do until they see it.

Mark Dowley, who is among seven coaches at Brighton Grammar, said the school wanted to boost engagement, particularly among Year 9 and 10 students, where there has traditionally been a slump.

“Engagement is one of the biggest predictors in positive outcomes,” he said.

Coaches will often sit through classes and fill out a heat map showing which students the teacher interacts with. They also record every time there is a disruption in the class.

“It allows teachers to work out where they are spending the most time in the classroom, the things that are slowing them down and the students who might need a bit of extra help,” Mr Dowley said.

An engagement score is then calculated for every class, with an aim of achieving 80 per cent.

The school said the initiative has helped some teachers improve their engagement from 70 to 85 per cent, which amounts to weeks of extra learning every year.

It believes the approach has also helped it achieve its best ever VCE results over the past two years, with 24 per cent of ATARs above 95 and 42 per cent over 90.

On Monday, Mr Dowley sat down with Mr Hayward to analyse the footage of his Latin class.

“On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being a perfect class, where did this one sit?” Mr Dowley asked.

Mr Hayward gave his class a seven, saying he wanted to improve his “transitions”,  the time it takes for students to unpack their belongings and start learning or settle into a new activity. He sets himself a goal of keeping every transition to under a minute.

But he said he was happy with the seating plan he devised.

“Students tend to fill up the back, you deliberately place students with or without other students to limit distraction,” he said.

The coaching is opt-in, and students are informed about the filming in their classroom.

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership chief executive Lisa Rodgers said instructional coaching improved teaching,  in turn boosting students’ learning.

“Collectively building expertise is becoming more commonplace and we encourage this to continue," she said.

“One of the best ways to learn how to do anything is to get feedback from an expert."