John Fawkner College located in the Northern Metropolitan region is a college on a mission. As part of “Project Excellence” an initiative developed and supported by DEECD and NMR aimed at lifting the standards and outcomes the school has undergone a transformation. Reopening in 2010 with a new name, high percentage of new staff and a clear vision the college has embarked on a raft of changes and improvements.
In order to achieve the objectives the college established a mantra that in order to lift student standards teachers must constantly reflect on their practices. To support the development of this professional culture Principal Gus Napoli contacted DIB in the possible use of technology to assist teachers in self assessment of their teaching.
Gus’s ideas were clear from the outset. He wanted a system which enabled teachers to self review their role in the classroom and how their actions and methods were helping them achieve their learning outcomes and/or how they could improve them.
Gus is supportive of the triad model of peer review whereby a teacher has the company of two teachers for review and professional development purposes. However the downside is that this is resource intensive and in many schools these resources are hard to come by.
When Gus contacted DIB he was looking for a technical solution to reduce the reliance upon teacher resources. Through consultation with DIB Solutions Consultant, Sam Garden, a unique classroom recording system was developed.
Pivotal to the system was the exclusive ability for the teacher to control the recording. Gus was adamant this was not to be a recording system for critical review by others, but a self reflection and evaluation system.
In order to achieve this aim a system was designed which featured a simple USB slot at the front of the room. The one and only method of recording the lesson was to insert a standard USB memory stick. When the recording was started and stopped the recorded lesson complete with video and audio was then only available as a video file on the teacher’s own USB memory stick.
From there the teacher is able to review it on their own computer at their own pace. They can delete it or share it with others – but it is within the teacher’s control only. Essential to the system was that it be discrete with high quality recorded audio. To this end DIB installed sensitive and discrete tiny microphones mounted above the teachers and students on the ceiling. This audio is recorded with the video from a specially located camera at the rear of the room. The camera is designed to capture the students and their body language and interaction with the class as well as the audio.
The simplicity and quality of the system has assisted Gus in his decision to include it as a part of every teacher’s performance plan and self review process. With the Teacher Self Review system in place it’s just another step in John Fawkner College’s process of significant reflection and self improvement all with the objective of improving student outcomes.