Helping instructors gather and interpret in-service feedback on their teaching is one of the most important ways the Bok Center serves individual teachers at Harvard. Being able to observe their own teaching and reflect on it, and then having the chance to discuss it with one of the Center's experienced staff, is a powerful tool for instructors at every level of experience to improve as teachers.
Why Do a Video Consultation?
Having your class recorded and then viewing the video with a trained Bok Center consultant is a particularly effective way to put yourselves in the shoes of your students and reflect on the act of teaching. It can be difficult to imagine how students are experiencing your class in the moment, when your mind is racing to keep ahead of the next student comment or question. Watching the video later, with the help of a consultant, will allow you to see things that may have been invisible to you at the time. Does what you see on video match your own perceptions of your teaching? Can you brainstorm other ways of approaching the material, or strategies to use with the students?
We conduct over 500 consultations/year, and we find that it is overwhelmingly a valuable professional development opportunity. You may be pleasantly surprised to see, firsthand, how engaged your students are and how effective your teaching is. You may also notice things you never realized—things that you can use to inform your future development as a teacher and communicator. Many of the teachers who do a video consultation are also happy just to have the chance to sit and talk with a colleague about their teaching.
A note on preparing for your consultation: We find that teachers learn the most from the experience when they capture an authentic class. We know the observer effect is in play, and that recording your class may be a bit disruptive, but try to preserve as much of your normal interaction as possible. When consultants view the video with you, we're not judging your performance against any ideals or rubrics; we're trying to help you ask questions like, “What kind of experience do I think that student is having? What is it really like for her to be in my class?”
Consultations are always private and confidential, and they can focus on any aspects of the class that interest you as a teacher. You can get your own copy of the class video after your consultation, and all services related to the video consultation are both free of charge and open to anyone teaching Harvard College students.