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Using Video to Make Classroom Observations More Fair, More Helpful, and Less Burdensome

This story originally appeared in Brookings.

The Best Foot Forward project at the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard has been investigating the use of digital video to make classroom observations more helpful and fair to teachers and less burdensome for supervisors. In a randomized field trial involving 347 teachers and 108 administrators in Delaware, Georgia, Colorado and Los Angeles, teachers were given a special video camera and invited to collect multiple lessons.  They could then choose a subset of their lesson videos to submit for their classroom observations.  A secure software platform allowed administrators as well as external observers (selected for their expertise in a teacher’s discipline) to watch the videos and provide time-stamped comments aligned to specific moments in the videos.  

In addition to giving teachers a reason and an opportunity to watch multiple instances of their own teaching, the videos served as the basis for one-on-one discussions between teachers and administrators and between teachers and the external content experts.  The comparison teachers and schools continued to do in-person classroom observations...

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