Volume 1, Issue #8
A Look in the Mirror
COMO Tom Venezio, DVC- Instructor Development
Most times a quick look in the mirror is extremely helpful. Things like, “Is my tie
straight?”; “Does my uniform look right?”; etc. (I said “most times” because it also tells
me that my waistline looks a bit larger than the last time I visited a mirror!!) Similarly,
we can learn a lot by “looking in the mirror” in our classroom instruction. A simple
video of our classroom can be that mirror.
Many colleges and universities use this strategy when training new teachers and working
with graduate-level educators. It provides critical feedback to the individual regarding
the effectiveness of their presentation, quirks and speech patterns, and student reactions.
So, can this be done in a simple manner? Absolutely! Here are some simple tips.
-‐ Don’t overcomplicate the process. This is not an Academy Award
presentation. You are the only one that will review the video.
-‐ Most any camera will do. Ideally a digital video camera would be great but a
basic movie camera, an old camcorder or possibly even your cell phone
camera could work.
-‐ Set the camera up in the room to focus on you. If you move around a lot, be
sure to get a wide view so you can be seen. If you have a friend who you
would like to do the camera work, that’s even better but, not essential.
-‐ Be yourself as you teach and forget about the camera!
So now that you’ve recorded the session. What’s next? Well, now is the time to
privately review the recording. Here are some things to think about.
-‐ What did I do that was really good?
-‐ Is there anything that I might improve on?
-‐ Is there anything that I really need to change?
Here are some questions to think about that might help guide your personal review.
-‐ Did I introduce the topic well?
-‐ Was the lesson taught in a proper sequence?
-‐ Did I ask questions of the class to keep then engaged and monitor the
-‐ Did students look engaged and interested?
Was I well organized and prepared?
Was my uniform worn properly and did I make a good impression?
How was my speech? Loud enough? Free of annoying habits?
Were instructional aids helpful and well used?
Did I use the technology in a helpful manner or did it get in the way?
Did I summarize or review the content at the end of the lesson?
Looking in the mirror (or at your video recording) can be extremely informative and
helpful. No matter how good we are, we can always improve a little! Take a look in the
mirror …….. you might really like what you see!
Educational Excellence Program
On a related note, the Auxiliary currently has a pilot program underway that aims to
strengthen our instructional skills and also provide well-deserved recognition for all of
our talented instructors. This program also utilizes the video self-evaluation model.
Watch for more to come in 2014!
A Video you might like
Bill Gates (the Bill Gates of Microsoft fame) established a foundation to improve the
quality of instruction in American classrooms. Among other things, it envisions use of
videos in the classroom for teacher evaluation. Here is a web site address for a TED talk
he gave on the subject
http://www.ted.com/talks/bill_gates_teachers_need_real_feedback.html. It’s a
provocative talk, but pay particular attention to one of the embedded videos which
features a teacher evaluating herself using videos.
A Great Instructional Activity
In the last issue of WAYPOINTS I asked instructors to share one of their favorite
instructional activities. Please keep the ideas coming (email to email@example.com) and
I’ll share them in future issue. Here’s the first idea from Commodore Dan Maresh, DIRE.
Have four or five people sit in chairs that duplicate the seating arrangement in a
boat. Either in closed boxes under the seats and/or in a box that simulates a cuddy, place
life jackets of various sizes, some in plastic and some adjusted to the extreme size.
Now, simulate a mishap and have two people step 10'-15' away from the chairs and put
one hand in their pocket and leave it there. Why? Have the remaining people get a life
jacket and put it on and throw one to the other two people. They have 30 seconds to
complete the task.
See how many got the life jacket on securely and if it would be functional in keeping
them afloat. You can explain many reasons why this was much easier than if it was a real
situation with injury, fire, waves, darkness or unfamiliarity with the boat storage access.