How Video-Based Observation Can Encourage Open Discussions About Teaching Performance

As presenters, we struggle to evaluate our performance due to the distractions and biases we encounter while presenting. The same goes for administrators when evaluating the performance of their teachers. Our lessons are filled with distractions.

Distractions include anything that diverts attention from the current desired task, forcing attention on a new task at least temporarily. Attending to the new task increases the risk of an error and can cause cognitive fatigue. This leads to mistakes.

For example, during an in-classroom observation, we may completely miss one detail because we’re distracted by the need to document another. And if we somehow have a solution that helps us capture our thoughts with 100 percent accuracy — without any distractions – we still run into the issue of bias. The Idiosyncratic Rater Effect found that on average, 61 percent of a rating is based on the judgments of the rater rather than the ratee. 

Types of Unconscious Bias that Distort Performance Evaluations:

  1. Central Tendency Bias: Whenever you have a three or five point scale, raters have a tendency to lump the majority of their employees in the middle. This bias is worse for low performers, as it doesn’t clue them in to the fact that they need to improve. It also doesn’t give them any valuable information to focus on.
  2. Recency and Spillover Bias: Recency bias occurs when administrators rate teachers based on their most recent performance – forgetting about the entire picture. Spillover bias occurs when administrators continue to rate a teacher based on past performance, failing to take into account recent improvements.
  3. Negativity Bias: People have a natural bias toward negative situations. The mind reacts to bad things like unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or social interactions. The mind also reacts to harmful/traumatic events more quickly, strongly, and persistently than to equivalent good things. Negativity bias can get in the way of our professional development when constructive feedback induces fear or anger over a learning opportunity.
  4. Halo Effect Confirmatory and Similarity Bias: The halo effect occurs when administrators have an overly positive view of a particular teacher. Halo effect is often a consequence of people having a similarity or affinity bias for certain types of people. This can impact the objectivity of reviews when managers consistently give high ratings and fail to recognize areas for improvement.

Observation that is filled with biases is a problem because it doesn’t provide us – or our teachers – with objective feedback needed for growth. To realize their full potential, students need access to excellent teachers. And excellent teachers need meaningful feedback to help them grow in their practice.

Giving teachers feedback and support ultimately benefits students and drives their success. So how do we create an objective and meaningful way to provide feedback and achieve success?

Video-based observation is a successful tool to improve classrooms, self-reflection, and more:

  1. Video classroom observation provides concrete evidence of instruction that supports productive feedback conversations and eliminates counterproductive debates about what actually happened in the classroom. With clear evidence, the coaching conversations are fairer and thus less likely to become adversarial.
  2. Video enables better self-reflectionallowing educators the opportunity to see themselves through others’ eyes and not only rely on an administrator or coach’s observations. Using current video technology, individuals are given the tools to capture that self-reflection directly on the video and share it with others.
  3. Classroom observation through video facilitates the sharing of best practices and lessons. Educators can share their instruction with others without leaving their classroom. In addition, self-selection of video increases educators’ comfort and likelihood that they will share with others.
  4. Video increases efficiency and maximizes time by being a more efficient and cost-effective form of virtual coaching. With virtual coaching, individuals are no longer limited to mentoring based on location, immediate school, state or region. Administrators also reported spending more time observing and less time on paperwork.

Using video to improve teaching performance has an immeasurable impact and encourages instructors to have honest and open conversations that encourage and solicit feedback to grow. Vosaic Connect – a FACTS Education Solutions product – helps teachers and principals maximize their instructional effectiveness through video.

It also allows school principals and teachers to record a teaching lesson, time-stamp comments aligned to specific moments in the presentation, and then review the video with comments to improve the next lesson. For more information on how Vosaic Connect can impact and improve your teaching, contact us at [email protected].