Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Teachers should wear body cameras

Teachers should wear body cameras.  At least some teachers, some of the time. 

The reasons aren't the same as for police officers, however. While law enforcement seems to moderate its violent behavior when wearing the cams, I don't worry about teacher violence in the schools I work in. 

I am concerned about teacher ineffectiveness. As teachers we have a perception of what happens during a lesson, which may not be accurate.  Close self-evaluation of a lesson could help the teacher and his mentor objectively pinpoint ineffective practices. A video strips away our illusions. The teacher-mentor team can adjust and practice new strategies. 

A video (or even audio recording) reveals which student is getting the most attention--positive or negative. I once heard myself say "Pedro, please sit down" about 15 times when I watched a video taped lesson. It forced me to consider what I wasn't doing to hold his attention. 

That same video could be used to guide a student to analyze their own patterns.

In one class I frequent I have seen the same student out of her seat, wandering aimlessly, or otherwise ignoring the lesson altogether 9 out of 10 visits. When the teacher has asked  Mom for help, the response is just to let her do what she wants. Does the mother really understand how unproductive her child is? A video recording would make the child's disengagement clear. 

Both Forbes magazine and Atlantic Monthly weighed potential dangers of the body cams. Atlantic them as drastic and intrusive. I believe the teacher body cam may just be the lifeline the child needs employed on her behalf. 

Poor teaching damages countless students each year. Likewise, poor parenting compounds student failure. I've witnessed a disturbing trend that parents don't believe their child is behaving in ways that hinder learning. Seeing their child as he is at school may be the wake-up call for parents to see their responsibility in preparing a child to learn.

When neither classrooms, nor students function effectively over time it is a disaster. The result is uneducated, unemployable, unmotivated, unprepared young people splashing into the labor pool without the skills to keep from drowning. 

Teacher cams may seem a drastic measure. But young lives are at stake.