Why I film every observation using visible notes—and why you should, too
As Director of Professional Learning for Sibme—a fully integrated mobile and web-based technology platform designed for reflection, collaboration, and coaching with video–I was recently working with a group of administrators for a half-day technology workshop. I had just shown the group how to record a video in the Sibme app on their phone, upload the video to the web-based platform, and make time-stamped comments as feedback, when Beth, a participant, raised her hand.
“You know what would be really great is if we could record and type comments at the same time,” she said. “Can we do that?” she asked.
My answer? “Yes, Beth, you can! We call it visible notes.”
Visible Notes = Game-Changer
What are visible notes? Imagine taking your mobile device and laptop with you to a class to do an observation. You record the lesson from inside the iOS or Android Sibme app on your mobile device and use your laptop (while logged into the Sibme web app) to type notes and give feedback. When the observation ends the recorded video automatically uploads, and when the video is ready to be viewed, you will see the video “synched” with your typed time-stamped notes and feedback. While reviewing the video, Sibme allows you to edit your notes and tags. When you’re ready, you choose to “publish” the video and notes to your coachee. Watch this short video demonstrating how this process works.
Who uses Visible Notes?
Typically, administrators and coaches are the most frequent users of visible notes. Anyone who needs to observe a teacher and then “review the film” would benefit from visible notes. However, visible notes should not be limited to classroom observations. Other applications would include students using visible notes to record and take notes during a lecture or presentation, or a teacher could use it with their students when observing projects, presentations, and skill’s demonstrations or even when they attend a workshop or meeting.
What’s the Value of Video Observations?
In order to get excited about visible notes, you first need to believe that there is value in filming classroom observations—and there is!
- Makes you more accurate and evidence-based—you don’t have to script in class and then hope you can recall what your notes meant or referred to a day or two later
- Helps teachers become more self-reflective since they may not clearly remember what happened while they were being observed
- Gives the observer and the teacher a common lens as they review the lesson together which in turn makes the observation more fair and productive
- Helps save time and keeps the post-observation conference or coaching conversation focused, since the video can be time-stamped and reviewed anytime and anywhere
- Helps to objectively track growth over time
Let’s Compare Notes
When I think of the days when I scripted notes in order to have a coaching conversation later, I shudder. Using video makes me better at giving more precise and accurate feedback, it helps the person I am coaching have their own “aha” moments without me saying a word, and, over time, video allows us both to see evidence of growth.