The model of action research that lies behind the work of our video clubs is described in the book: ‘Teachers Investigate their Work’, (Altrichter, Feldman, Posch, Somekh, 1993) along with Laurinda Brown’s theorization of the idea of ‘purposes’ (Brown, 2005).
At the end of each meeting, the facilitator will usually send around readings via email, of research articles that are linked to what participants have been talking about. These articles will often be specific to one teacher’s ‘issue’ but are sent to the whole group. These are not then formally discussed at meetings, but participants sometimes bring up points from their own reading.
The teachers in one of our clubs began to spontaneously talk about what they had learnt (after three meetings) and how the work of the club has affected how they think about observing teaching, here is some of what they said:
N: I’ve been talking to a few teachers, the whole method of watching and having to recite it essentially and they sort of give you a look. I’d love them to try with that very first video because it’s like an eye opener really. It’s like how much your perspective just warps the video.
S: I did some coaching training this week … and I mentioned this [club] because he was saying the difference between a coach and a mentor. We’re doing coaching in a way because we’re just commenting on what we see and reflecting back as opposed to, he was saying that a mentor would suggest things to do and what are the next steps instead.
N: I do coaching in my school … here we have to distance ourselves, it’s a lot better because it’s hard not to … actually it’s hard to watch a video and think oh why didn’t you do that
J: Because that very first video I was thinking that way, I was really judgmental, but once you [Alf] trained us, it feels really un-inhibiting to watch anyone’s video, you don’t think about it.
P: I was saying, this process has helped me, when I come to observe now, because I’ve stopped now thinking about how I would do it and looked at actually what are the children doing, how are they achieving that and what is the teacher doing to get them to achieve that, instead of thinking, oh that’s nice, I’ll nick that, or I’d do it that way, I’ve switched it back.
What is striking to us, in these comments, is what the teachers see they have gained just from the discipline of the way of working itself, independent of anything they may also be learning from the videos themselves.