Using video to promote early childhood teachers’ thinking and reflection is an article written by Sue Cherrington and Judith Loveridge. Research was conducted by Victoria University of Wellington, Donald Street, Karori, Wellington, New Zealand Published in Teaching and Teacher Education 2014.
Reflection is not always productive. It’s unproductive for example, if it lacks focus, relies on judgemental statements (“I like…”) or does not include analysis or evaluation. Reflection works well when it includes questioning, assumptions, being open to different perspectives, analysis, integrates knowledge and can see and analyse the connections in a classroom.
Reflection is part of many business practices, but in ECEC it’s particularly difficult because educators usually work as part of a team, and within that team there’s a mix of staff e.g. degree qualified, cert II and diploma, or possibly unqualified. On top of that educators are expected to work closely with families and communities and the workplace and daily programs must be flexible.
Unfortunately, many ECEC professionals find it difficult to implement reflective practice. This means they have limited opportunities to improve teaching by reflecting on their practices. Another perhaps more surprising outcome is that educators often undervalue their contribution to children’s learning.
Using video recordings to support reflection offers many advantages. Several studies have shown that using video allows teachers to slow down the pace of learning, helping teachers to ‘learn to notice’ interactions and events and to see things you don’t normally see. It also often shows that a teacher’s memory of what happened is not accurate.
This article discusses three themes which emerged from a case study about reflection using video recordings.
Firstly, watching the recorded video allows team members to view each others’ practices and discuss practices relevant to the situation. You might think this happens all the time because team members work beside or with each other, but in busy centres educators are usually focusing on the children and their responsibilities.
e.g. “Was he trying to take you away? Or was he trying to make the play go longer?”
“I must admit, it is a very good professional development, isn’t it? To, to watch and see how we teach or even body language and stuff…”
Secondly, educators gained new insights about individual children and their own practices after watching the videos.
eg “We need to look more at where is somebody and who’s around me and what I take is well, us three are here but actually most of the children are out there with Jadye.”
”I think this has highlighted to me about the children that..the things that you miss when you’re busy… “and the capability that they actually have.”
Thirdly, educators discussed more general principles of practice. For example, one educator expressed her concern about the increased pressure to document children’s learning, and how this was starting to affect how she interacted with children. The discussion then focused on the tension teachers felt in trying to interpret what was significant learning for children. Educators had recently given children who were going to school a digital camera, and what children photographed had often been completely unexpected. As a result, these teachers were wondering whether they really knew what children wanted to document, and about the potential mismatch between their ideas of children’s learning and what children really thought themselves.
While there are huge benefits from reflecting as a team on video recordings, there may also be some challenges. There needs to be a culture of mutual respect and trust before educators feel able to critique the practices of team members. If this is not present then individuals are likely to feel vulnerable and powerless. It’s important to provide clear guidance on the use of video recordings in reflective practice.
How could you use video recordings to aid reflective practice in your service?