Video: A Tool for Improved Student Outcomes

Video Camera“When the teacher is really able to reflect on their own work, that’s even more valuable than external evaluation.” All across the country, teachers and administrators are embracing the use of video. Learn why.


Middle School English teacher Cinnamon Gardner knows the value of video in the classroom. As a professional teacher with years of experience, Cinnamon has history using video to critically reflect on her instruction. And she’s not alone. All across the country, teachers and administrators are embracing the use of video to deepen reflection, improve feedback, and change culture. Why?

“Video captures reality.” As Jennifer Glynn and James Likis—co-leaders of the DIY Coaching program in Boston—note, teachers are charged with making hundreds, or even thousands, of real-time decisions in the classroom each day. And in a situation in which details are often lost or fuzzy, video provides an opportunity to clearly reflect on a particular lesson or classroom moment. And teachers aren’t the only ones using this technology to refine their practice: leaders are reflecting with video too.

Teaching is perhaps the most powerful pathway to substantial increases in student outcomes. Through our research, we’ve revealed advantages and benefits of using video in the classroom over in-person evaluation methods to improve teaching outcomes. Digital video offers advantages such as providing a more detailed, objective record than an observer’s written notes; allowing principals to time-shift observational duties to quieter times of the day or week; and facilitating the use of external observers and content experts. We’ve also found that:

  • Teachers are willing to record and watch their sessions. Giving control of the cameras to teachers successfully shifted the mode of classroom observations from in-person to video. 
  • Teachers are more self-critical when using video. At the end of the year, teachers who used video rated their own instruction lower than comparison teachers, particularly in terms of time management and their ability to assess student mastery during class. 
  • Video changed conversations between teachers and supervisors. Teachers perceived their supervisors to be more supportive and their observations to be fairer. Likewise, treatment administrators reported that their post-observation conferences with teachers were less defensive. 

Video is a tool. If we use it well, we can break open the classroom and make education a field where professionals share the best of what they do with one another. This is why Visibly Better was created—to be a living platform that showcases new technologies and practices and facilitates the conversation. So get involved! Take the pledge, subscribe, share your feedback, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Let’s do this!


See also: Getting Started