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For busy teachers, there are limited opportunities within the school day to be observed, to observe other teachers, to pause and reflect on the details of specific classroom moments, and to receive support from colleagues. Since in-person observations may be difficult to arrange, teachers may find themselves going it alone when trying out new learning, refining practice, or facing challenges in their classroom -- at times without much feedback or support.

A robust new video observation toolkit from Harvard helps address these challenges by suggesting ways of using video technology to rethink traditional approaches to teacher observation and professional development. Downloads from the toolkit include a variety of resources to help school leaders, teachers, teacher leaders, instructional coaches, and personal learning networks prepare for, launch, and evaluate the success of video observations in school communities.

Embedded throughout the toolkit are takeaways from the Best Foot Forward Project. Check out the First Year Implementation report for more details about the first phase of this related Harvard study.


Tools Snapshot

For those short on time, a few of the tools are highlighted below from the four toolkit sections. However, it's definitely worth reviewing the toolkit in its entirety for detailed recommendations and additional tools.

1. Using Video for Teacher Development

Provided tips and resources address ways that school communities can use video to enhance teacher development via self-reflection, peer collaboration, virtual coaching, formal evaluation, and the construction of video libraries. For teachers and teacher leaders, self-reflection tools include steps to analyze instruction and a rubric for assessing video observations. Teacher-leaders and school administrators will find resources for starting video clubs and using video within the context of school rounds. For instructional coaches who use video to inform coaching conversations, sample tools include a script for initial coaching conversations and a guide for conducting ongoing conversations.

The launch of a new video-observation initiative can be both exciting and anxiety provoking. Success hinges on the details of implementation, and there are many questions and challenges to address. Additional guidelines and tools in three other toolkit sections help school leaders address privacy concerns, select technology, assess community readiness, and measure project success. See below for more sample tools.

2. Addressing Privacy Concerns

3. Selecting Technology

4. Assessing Preparedness and Success

How might you use the tools above? How would you (or do you) use video classroom observation? Respond in the comments below or engage in other conversations in Edutopia's community.

More Resources From Edutopia and the Web


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Mr_Haines's picture

This encompasses many of the reasons I wanted to develop @VEO_app - we have a free iPad trial available from - rates for whole school subscription including access to a fantastic online portal are incredibly affordable! Please get in touch if you want to find out more!

William Anderson's picture
William Anderson
Teachers Teaching Teachers

Great information. I have been using a GoPro to film (video) my class sessions for about 2 years now and with a large view (135 degrees) you can see the whole classroom environment. It takes only a short while to get over the weirdness of seeing yourself and the 'stage fright' part of always thinking about what you are going to look like. The information you get back from watching yourself is unbelievable! Do it.

William Anderson's picture
William Anderson
Teachers Teaching Teachers

I like the POV (point of view) aspect of these videos. For my use I keep the camera stationary with a tripod and view the room from one side. The video provides a 'fly-on-the-wall' view of my teaching and since the students and I are used to it being there, it acts as a silent partner for me. (thanks for the feedback!)

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