How to develop teaching practice with a ‘student cam’

Michael Davison

Michael Davison is a PE Teacher in a large secondary school in the north east. As well as normal teaching responsibilities, Michael is also a programme leader for Key Stage 4 Physical Education and Lead Teaching and Learning teacher for PE. He also works with the North East SCITT PE Partnership as a link tutor, coaching and mentoring trainee teachers. Over the last few yearsn Michael has delivered workshops at a number of conferences talking about innovative practice in PE and how Marginal Gains can be applied to learning.

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For me the use of video analysis in teaching is, and always will be, an essential tool to improve teaching feedback and develop outstanding practice. As a link tutor within a PE partnership, I see feedback, and the effectiveness of feedback, as one of the most important factors in developing initial teacher training (ITT) students. I also believe this should not be limited to just ITT students. Videoing a lesson and watching it back, although uncomfortable at times, can have a bigger impact than any observation or learning walk that you will take part in. With video analysis, what you see is what you get and a lot of the time, the realness of what you see can have a profound impact.

"It’s effective to video from the pupil’s point of view to see their level of learning, engagement and progress."

A lot of schools already invest a lot of time, resources and effort into the videoing of lessons, and I know a number of schools have the Iris software which they use to effectively observe lessons and develop teaching standards. However, being from a PE background, with a high percentage of lesson time being practical, Iris is not really a best fit for myself and certainly not with the school-centred initial teacher training (SCITT) students whom I mentor.

Other video analysis tools and methods are also rather static, a camera (on a tripod or shelf) or someone standing at the back of the room. Both of which are perfectly good, however a lot of the time the camera is pointed at you, the teacher and what you’re doing, which is important. But surely it would be more effective to video from the pupil’s point of view to see their level of learning, engagement and progress? This will give a much clearer picture of the lesson for feedback purposes and it will allow us to see what is going on with the people in the room who really matter.

Due to this thinking and for these reasons I developed a tool called ‘Student Cam’ to give a higher quality lesson feedback to my SCITT students, and indeed myself.

Student Cam works by getting a pupil to wear a GoPro camera, mounted to a body harness, with the lesson. Once the lesson starts the pupil can start the recording and every moment of the lesson will be captured on video. Not from the back of the room, or from the side but from the pupils perspective. The video becomes less about what the teacher is doing and more about what the pupils are doing because of the teacher. At the end of the lesson the pupil simply stops the recording and the footage can be downloaded.

"Once the lesson starts the pupil can start the recording and every moment of the lesson will be captured on video."

As a learning tool to develop teaching I have found this method of videoing lessons massively beneficial. Firstly it is easy to set up, secondly you get much more detailed feedback about what is happening in the lesson, and finally it’s getting you to see what your pupils are actually doing rather than what you think they are doing. I know it has also been very useful with the PE SCITT students I work with, and they often comment about how looking at the video footage allows them to see their lessons delivery in a completely different light; sometimes good, sometimes bad.

As teachers I often think we forget about our development and focus on the students. Our students can only be as good as the lessons we teach and so we should strive to teach the best lessons. Video analysis and ‘Student Cam’ allows us to keep striving and keep developing.  

Have you used similar methods to capture pupil POV? Share your experiences below.

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