Video is hot in educational improvement. It seems to promise an easy technological fix for a long-standing problem in teacher professional development, namely that teachers work largely alone, behind closed doors, and rarely have opportunities to learn from one another. With the advent of relatively inexpensive digital video technology, classroom practice can be easily captured, edited and made public. And, indeed, a number of teachers and researchers have begun to experiment with various models of video-based teacher professional development, in which participants view and discuss recordings of their own or others’ practice. When done well, such activities are indeed promising. However, they are surprisingly difficult to do well, especially in settings in which classroom observation is associated with inspection and performance management, and a pervasive ‘best practice’ mentality shuts down possibilities for critical discussion of the complexities of teaching.
In Better than Best Practice: Developing Teaching and Learning through Dialogue we describe and model a strategy for using video-recordings of practice to develop teachers’ professional sensitivity, interpretation, repertoire and judgement. We lay out critical conditions and principles for teacher learning, and discuss practical issues such as composing a video-based discussion group, using video-recordings of your own vs. others’ teaching, selecting lessons for recording, how to film, how to select and edit clips, and how to structure and facilitate discussions.