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Ever wish you could look over your lesson to see what went right or wrong? Teachers across the country are doing just that – and getting independent feedback from experts outside of school. Editor Victoria Galligan spoke to Sean Warren at Bett about ONVU Learning – which films the class from above as the children work.
ONVU Learning isn’t a CCTV system – although the small black dome camera placed on the ceiling in the classroom looks like any other monitoring device. ONVU Learning is actually a reviewing tool for teachers. The developers are keen to stress that this is not a way for senior leadership to “spy” on teachers – the footage is private to the teacher, who can choose to save some, all or none of a day’s footage as they see fit. And the footage can be reviewed by the teacher, or remotely by experts at ONVU Learning who advise on how to adapt practice based on the reflection of the teacher and their discussion about the footage.
It’s like having an observation, only the teachers are observing themselves rather than being watched by a besuited inspector seated in the corner of the room – an experience which not only increases anxiety in the teacher but can also change the way children behave.
ONVU Learning cameras blend into the background and become part of everyday life. The system works on the ethos that teachers and children have a relationship which they both have an investment in – but when there are 30 children in the class, it’s hard for teachers to nurture those relationships with every child, and for them to be aware of how each child worked throughout the lesson. This is where the observation tool comes in.
ONVU Learning helps by reviewing a lesson – teachers can check who was on task straight away, who struggled to stay on task, who didn’t understand what was asked of them and what the “critical moment” of the lesson was. Sean explains: “One teacher found out after the lesson that a child hadn’t done a lot of work, even after re-explanation of the task was given. So we discussed and the teacher implemented a re-check method, where she returned to check if the child with the problem had implemented the instructions he had been given. The teacher noted the time she gave the instructions on the child’s book, which helped to track the amount of work done and to spur the child on to produce more work.
“ONVU Learning is there to deconstruct what teachers do, and help them to articulate what happened in a lesson.
“We focus on the teacher’s ‘with-it-ness’ – are they fully ‘with it’ during the lesson, are they monitoring those who need more help or are some children slipping under the radar?”
Sean added: “Sometimes teachers will discuss footage with other staff or even show to parents where necessary – the other children in the footage can be blocked out to ensure privacy. Often it’s used to give positive feedback to families about their child’s concentration, hard work or kindness.”
Sean said schools had reported excellent progress since ONVU Learning was installed. The obvious use of the observation tool is for new teachers who need a little help in tweaking their teaching style, although Sean said teachers with years of experience had also found the system useful. The self-reflection element of ONVU Learning gives teachers autonomy.
Dan Thomas, executive headteacher of The Learning For Life Partnership, said: “I would recommend this system for any school that is looking for a simple way to develop teaching and learning in their school. This system gives the ownership of professional development to the teachers so they can reflect and develop their skills.”
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