155. I'm a full-time K-12 ESL-certified teacher (through the first ESL Graduate Academy where you presented at the Tyson facility in 1996) and a candidate for a masters degree in second languages this summer. My thesis involves using videotape to capture the interaction between teachers and ESL students in regular classes. We serve only a few students in each school; this means we operate a pull-out program.  I want to video the teachers and ESL students during a regular class for about 30 minutes, then sit down one-on-one with the teachers afterwards to watch the tape and discuss the techniques that seem to work (or don't) with the those who volunteer for this project.   After the interviews, I will ask them to take a survey to determine the value of this kind of process. My goal is to improve instruction for our ESL students as well as others.  Since I can't require the teachers to participate, I'm having trouble getting them to volunteer. I sent out letters to about 50 teachers in early March and only got back 7 responses; I need at least 25 volunteers for this project.I've researched the legality of using videotape for this project with our school district and our state teachers' association; I will have to notify the parents in writing I have 2 letters ready to go--one for the parents of our LEP students (to be signed and returned) and one for the other parents just to notify them that a video camera will be used. That will be done this coming week. Do you have any suggestions and/or comments that might help me get the teachers "on board"?  I also welcome your thoughts about this entire project.

This is a MOST interesting topic! HOWEVER, the great difficulty, as you indicate in your message, is the videotaping of teachers who "volunteer."

Right there you have pinpointed the two difficulties with your study. Teachers who "volunteer" may be totally different from teachers who do NOT do so (For example, in terms of educational background, attendance to ESL inservices or the ESL Academies, years of experience, etc.). Thus, your sample will be biased in favor of teachers who, for the most part, consider themselves good enough to feel confident to volunteer. The second problem, in my view, is that you just want 30 minutes WITHOUT any previous understanding of what you expect to see. To begin with, you may wish to have a list of "effective" practices and request that the teachers rate their use of these practices in their classes. Then, you can video with full understanding that teachers will be using some of the techniques they said they do use.  You have no control of what you will get in 30 minutes if there is no previous understanding of what may happen during the videotaping.

Now you have a totally different question: Is videotaping a good process to identify good ESL techniques or good content area teachers of LEP students? So, what exactly is your question? Is it to identify effective techniques through the videotaping process or is it to find out if the videotaping process helps teachers become better teachers of ALL students but of LEP students in particular?.

If I were a teacher, I would want to know WHAT information you are trying to get and HOW would you use the videos afterwards? Teachers do not perceive the project as you do. They probably feel this is a means to highlight their inadequacies.

And parents may object to their students being videotaped!!!! Then, what do you do?  

Since you are not an administrator in charge of assessing teacher performance, you MUST be very specific with the teachers to help them understand what you are trying to do. I think that:

A. If you begin with a survery of outstanding teaching practices for language development for ESL students and for ALL students in content area classes --You will find many indicators for your survey in my Web Sites-- and

B. If you survey the teachers in terms of how many and how often they use these teaching practices, you could then

C. Select just one or two of the teachers who use (1) almost all, (2) many of these, (3) almost none of the teaching practices, or (1) almost always, (2) often, (3) almost never use the teaching practices and

D. Videotape these three teachers or 6 teachers only and see if indeed there are differences.

Finally you could
E. Compare the performance of LEP and ALL students in their classes through some type of tests or
using grades. 

Research on naturalistic settings is very difficult, thus, what you are proposing is very difficult. You must
really narrow your question to possibly one or two variables. For example, you will find in my Web
Sites the set of teacher performance indicators from C.R.E.D.E. (Center for Research on Education,
Diversity and Excellence):

(1) Teacher and students producing together
(2) Developing the language across the curriculum
(3) Making meaning: Connecting school to students' lives
(4) Developing Higher Order Thinking Skills
(5) Teaching through conversation

Now, choose only ONE or perhaps TWO, no more. Then, work with the teachers trying to help them understand what the indicator(s) mean(s): What would teachers DO when they are "Teaching through conversation"?

As teachers try to "operationalize" the meaning of this indicator, they will tell you specific indicators of their own performance. Then, request to videotape these teachers who have fully worked with you in defining the indicator and see if indeed they perform as they said they did.

Then, compare the teachers through student testing and student surveys of effective practices. Which teachers got the highest test scores or the highest results in the student surveys? I think this approach would be manageable but what you propose would be, in my opinion, extremely complex and difficult to carry out.

Hope these ideas help you, and hope they are not too late. LET ME KNOW the results!!!!! I am delighted
you want to study teacher performance!!!!

 

 

 


For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

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