Recording online TP for better reflection

Teacher trainer resources
Recording online CELTA lessons for better reflection
Want to make your CELTA trainees reflect more deeply on their teaching practice? Try recording them. 

Moving CELTA online has had many challenges, obviously. But one of the huge advantages of doing teaching practice in an online platform like zoom is that you can record the lessons very, very easily. I'm Jo Gakonga from ELT And this is another video in my Trainer Resources series.

Developing reflective practice is an integral part of CELTA, but we all know that when the trainees are actually teaching, it can be a bit like rabbits in the headlights. They're so busy focusing on what they're doing, at the moment, that they've got very little headspace left to dispassionately view what they're doing. When they try and remember it afterwards, they can probably have an idea that the learners didn't really understand the instructions, but it will be hard for them to really concretely think about how those instructions were problematic, so that they can change them for next time.

This is where recordings are so helpful. They give empirical evidence of what happened rather than just a hazy recollection. On the part time course, that I've just finished, we recorded all of the lessons, and we worked it in the following way.

So the TP was taught, the trainees were recorded, we had oral feedback. And then the trainees went away, and they had to watch their lessons before they gave their self evaluation, and as soon as they handed in their self evaluation, then they would give them their written feedback. Obviously, this meant that this didn't include hot feedback, and they'd had the oral feedback first. But I think that there was really good evidence that the standard of reflection was better, that there was a much greater depth and detail in their reflections, because they'd watched their recordings.

There are, of course, a couple of big issues with this. The first is time, and the second is privacy.

So time is probably the biggest one. I was working on a part time course and the trainees had time between their lessons to watch their videos. On a full time course, I think probably that's not realistic. But you don't have to get them to watch all of their lesson back, you could just ask them to watch 10 minutes, or even five. You could set a specific observation task for this. Ask them to watch when they gave instructions, or when they were setting up an activity or giving feedback or presenting language, the trickier parts of the lesson perhaps. You could give them some kind of quantitative task, ask them to count how many questions they asked, who did they ask them to, which of the learners contributed the most in class, how many of them never speak. You could ask them to listen for learner error, to become more aware of what their learners are actually saying and the kind of problems that they have. You don't have to do this for every lesson of course, it could just be a couple of times during the course and then that could easily feed into the Lessons from the Classroom assignment.

The other issue, of course, to be aware of is privacy. You can't record anyone without their permission. So we got around this by ensuring that when the volunteer learners signed up for the class, that they signed some kind of disclaimer that said that didn't mind being recorded, and that obviously it wouldn't be public. And also for the trainees, we added a section to the centre agreement that also said the same thing. The other useful tip here is that, in zoom, the host can record the lesson so that it's downloadable just to their local computer. So that avoids issues of inadvertent sharing.

So if you haven't tried this, or haven't tried it recently, then give it a go. You could even practice what you preach and record your own feedback and reflect on that yourself. Watch it back and think about your own practice.

I hope that this is a bit thought provoking and maybe it gives you some ideas for recording your lessons in the future. Thanks very much for watching. Bye bye
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