Blue Shirt Tuesday

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Video Camera as the Eyes in the Back of my Head

One of our assignments for our education class is to video tape one of our lessons, watch it, and reflect on it here. I'll reflect on my teaching shortly, but I first want to talk about a potentially beneficial side-effect of the assignment: mandatory classroom surveillance. Today's class was relatively well behaved, although I did have to eject two students from class (the first for blatant disrespect: "Get over here, Mr. Wulsin." and the second for swearing in class). While I was talking to the second students, I told the class to work on an activity I had put up on the overhead. I stepped into the hall and when I came back the students were working fairly well. When I watched my video this afternoon, however, I saw that just after I stepped out of the room (I left the door open, but I was turned away) the first student who I had talked to in the hall jumped up from his desk and erased the checks I had put on the board next to the names of students who had misbehaved (for each check a student receives, he must write one page about why the rules are important).

I will certainly confront the student tomorrow, but my dilemma is whether I can use a videorecording I took without their consent or knowledge as evidence against my students. Is there a right to privacy that would prohibit my holding a student accountable for something I saw on a video taken secretly (I wasn't taping secretly, but I didn't draw any attention to the tripod in the back of the room). He's been disrespectful all along, and that he would do that after promising that he would behave when I talked to him in the hall makes me feel like I should just not even let him back in the class tomorrow.

Now for the less exciting part of my videotaping experience.

I'm a boring teacher. I'm boring because I am afraid that if I add excitement, discovery, and fun to the lessons I will immediately lose control of the class. I've found (see blogs on inductive learning) that making the lesson enjoyable can improve behavior because the students are more engaged. But it's a crap-shoot. My algebra lesson that involved gold coins and golf tees was a total bomb. I think that part of the problem is that because I am trying to be strict with discipline, my students hold it against me and take it out by refusing to get excited when I teach.

Today's lesson was on graphing points on the coordinate plane, and I wish I could have taken the whole class out to the football field and made a giant cartesian plane and had each student stand at various points. Unfortunately, I fear that if I tried doing that I'd end up with three bloody noses, two missing kids, and not much learning. Can I really expect students to be on their best behavior when I am asking them to run around outside?

I also noticed that my pants don't fit me very well.

I hear a lot more talking on the video than I notice while I'm teaching. I wasn't very strict during the period and that might be partly why things got out of hand a couple times. I want my studnets to take risks and be comfortable in class. I don't want them to be afraid to open their mouths. But I feel like the only way to keep the room quiet is by punishing every instance of speaking.


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