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|Two of the current fashions in evaluating the teaching ability of education
students and teachers, are to use (1) portfolios of sample lessons they
have done, perhaps including student results and the teacher's evaluations
of those student projects and papers, and (2) video taped classroom instruction
There are serious problems with both of these approaches and neither gets to the heart of evaluating a teacher's ability to teach.
Video Taped Classes
The teacher's actions will look cold or distracting. The teacher's facial expressions will be fairly indiscernible. All nuance will be lost. A teacher that talks with her hands, no matter how expressive and interesting that might be in person, will appear on tape to be gyrating for no reason, as if s/he had some sort of nervous condition. The best teacher in the world, doing his/her best teaching ever, will appear lifeless and ineffective, both visually and audibly, if video taped from the back of a room by a camera mounted on a tripod set at wide or medium angle, using the camera's own microphone. None of the feeling of warmth, intimacy, humor, and direct psychological contact between each student and the teacher that might have occurred will show up on the tape. That is not the proper way to tape a teaching experience, and it is not fair to any teacher.
A camera set up that way simply does not capture things the way the human mind does in person. Anyone who has ever audio tape-recorded a really animated and interesting conversation, will be able to tell you that on playback the conversation will almost always sound dead, and filled with boring pauses, and all kinds of distracting and extraneous noises. Neither the pauses nor the noises were part of the consciousness of anyone partipating in the converation, but neither can be ignored when listening to the tape. Anyone who has even photographed something that seemed really attractive or interesting to them will normally be disappointed in the photographs because the subject will seem cold and distant, will have shadows that are terribly distracting, will have background objects in distracting places, and will typically have way too much space on either side of it. The main subject will just not appear in the photograph the way they appeared to the consciousness of the person taking it. Unless one is an accomplished photographer.
Oppositely, if a Hollywood director and crew video-taped and edited a lesson, even a terrible lesson could probably be made to look really interesting, exciting, and successful. There is a good reason why it takes something like three months to a year to film a 90 minute movie. It takes much staging, lighting, editing, camera locations, and a host of other things to make everything look normal to the viewer and yet also bring it to life. How things are filmed and recorded is as important as what is filmed or recorded. The only "true" recording is one that captures action in a way that when someone watches it replayed, they perceive it pretty much the way they perceived it when it was occurring. Unfortunately that may be different for different people. It is not that there is no true recording of any activity but that there are many true ones, and many, many more false ones. A video recording of a classroom session is pretty worthless as a means of evaluating the teaching that went on, unless the content of the teaching itself is so poorly done that filming style would not have saved it, no matter who was filming it; and even that might take a viewer who is knowledgeable about filming to be able to tell.
Then How Can Teachers Be Reasonably Evaluated for Hiring?
And do not judge the teacher on the basis of whether s/he uses the "proper" technique, usually meaning the technique that is in vogue. Teaching is not about technique; it is about results. Do the students learn. A teacher who uses modern techniques but whose students learn very little, is like a surgeon who performs technically "successful" operations where patients die. One would normally rather live through a surgery and be cured, regardless of the doctor's technique than to die in a technically perfect demonstration of ability.
Evaluating teachers is not likely to be easy, because many matters of judgment are not easy. But substituting an easy method for one that requires wisdom is not to overcome a difficulty inherent in evaluation, just to ignore it.