Improving teachers with robotic camera tracking technology
Teachers at Shire Christian School have begun using robotic camera tracking technology in the classroom to help improve their professional practice. The robotic tracking system, called Swivl, uses an iPad camera to record the teacher as they move around the classroom. The video of the lesson can be reviewed afterward by the teacher, allowing them to identify areas of potential improvement in their teaching.
The school has further invested in the professional development of teachers in recent months, employing Mrs Natalie Bluhdorn to work with, and mentor teachers, with the aim to help develop a culture of self-reflection.
“The cameras will be awesome because teachers can actually see how they come across in the classroom,” said Mrs Bluhdorn.
“We may have an intention to be teaching in a certain way, but the cameras will show us what the students are actually seeing, and this is how we’re actually coming across.”
The school is committed to providing a high quality Christian education for students and research has shown that the biggest impact on student learning is the quality of teaching.
“It’s undeniable that it starts with the teacher,” said Mrs Bluhdorn.
“If you can refine the teacher and teach professionalism and nurture that sense of passion from a teacher, then you’re definitely going to harness a culture of learning.”
“Because the students need to see us modelling how to learn, how to be excited about knowledge, how to want to develop our skills for them to actually see that that’s something that they can emulate as well,” she said.
Mrs Bludhorn, who is in her final stages of a Masters in Educational Leadership, is working at the school one day per week this year, supporting teachers under 5 years trained.
“The more comfortable I can help teachers feel at the beginning of their career… I think that translates to the classroom,” she said.
“A nurturing, safe environment has to start with the teacher and with how they feel in the classroom. That’s often neglected.”
The school is also committed to developing experienced teachers. Twice a term, teachers in the Secondary School meet across faculty, in small groups, to share their learning goals and report on progress.
Mr Greg Smith, Head of Secondary, said that all teachers should be continuing to develop their craft.
“It’s normal to be a learner as opposed to the expectation that you’re a teacher and you’re perfect in pedagogy and content knowledge,” he said.
“Not only is the assumption false, it’s also an unhelpful one that leads to a mindset of reduced collaboration.”
“Having taught for over 20 years, I’m still learning, which is great, and what makes it exciting. We’ll never get to a point where we say there’s nothing more to learn about teaching. That makes teaching exciting and interesting, but at the same time there’s frustrations in that because you go, ‘I’ve taught for over 20 years, I’ve done this lesson numerous times, it’s always flown, this time it didn’t.’ That can be really frustrating. It requires a bit of humility at that point to go well maybe I need to think differently with this group.”
The professional learning community groups at Shire Christian School not only seek to improve individual teachers’ capacity but also aim to improve how team members work with each other.
“There’s something exciting about team work. That’s more powerful, energising and enduring than solo efforts,” said Mr Smith.
“Ultimately, it’s about improving student learning by improving teacher capacity, but also that sense that what I’m doing is meaningful. That I’m working with colleagues to actually improve things for my students.”
"There’s something meaningful about doing that within the context of community, which is one of our school values as well, that working with others is something that God seeks that we do.”