The best foot forward project: substituting teacher-collected video for in-person classroom observations
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Professor Thomas J. Kane, Professor Hunter Gehlbach, Miriam Greenberg, David Quinn and Daniel Thal

School districts across the United States are implementing new teacher evaluation systems. This research from Harvard University investigates an alternative approach to traditional classroom observations: allowing teachers to submit their own videos of lessons, replacing peer observations.

The study found that this method of recording lessons could improve classroom observation: providing more detailed, objective feedback to teachers; allowing principals more flexibility as they could ‘watch’ the observations at times that suited them; and facilitating the input of experts from outside the school in the observation process. Teachers believed using video for observations resulted in fairer evaluations, and both teachers and administrators reported that post-observation discussions were less defensive and adversarial.

However, in order to enjoy the advantages of video, schools must trust their teachers and make allowances for any anxieties a teacher may feel around being recorded. 

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Professor Thomas J. Kane, Professor Hunter Gehlbach, Miriam Greenberg, David Quinn and Daniel Thal

Published by:
University of Harvard - Center for Educational Policy Research

Date of publication:
October 2015

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The research will be of interest to schools looking to improve teachers’ experiences of observation, and to school leaders who are keen to try new initiatives. 


Record ID:
R215 / 118
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