Classroom observations have progressed substantially in the last 10 years. The movement to use video technology to make observations more frequent and connect them to teacher collaboration networks is extremely positive. But while schools have found value, many are still struggling with maintaining momentum of their programs.
At the same time, a teachers own observation skills have never been more important to lifting student achievement. You know good student engagement and motivation when you see it in class, but this important predictor of success can't be easily measured and turned into actionable data. Doing it well is harder than ever as class sizes grow and individualized instruction has become more important. This leads us to ask, why aren't classroom observation tools helping to improve this?
Teachers are remarkably perceptive of their class and as a result, classroom video currently provides minimal new insight. This makes the case for self reflection strained. It also forces feedback from observers to stay focused on generalized best practices since they can't see or hear the nuances of the class. Even worse, a teacher's collaboration time gets expanded and fractured between efforts to prepare for class and provide observational feedback to their peers. Observational data simply doesn’t play a role in a teacher’s day to day preparation.
Yet every teacher’s observation skill has a fundamental limitation - they can only be in one place at a time. Growing class sizes and individualized instruction virtually guarantee that teachers can’t consistently observe every student through each activity. As a result, every day teachers miss important student insights that they could use to accelerate achievement.
What if video technology could dramatically improve how teachers see and hear each individual student?
We believe it can. Our new Multi-Camera (see Pro+) and Multi-Microphone (see C-Series Robot) video technology individualizes classroom observations. This enables teachers to easily review, share and discuss video observations where you can see and hear each student as though you were in class, sitting next to them. This has the potential to change everything.
It could shift reflection into something that deepens teachers' understanding of their students. It could open up the classroom to collective insights by teams of teachers, improving the depth of insight with each student. Connecting these deeper insights to teacher collaboration for lesson planning would improve the efficiency and impact on overall student achievement of this activity. And most importantly, it could shift classroom observation from an administration driven initiative into a teacher driven movement that can transform schools.