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Filming Lessons for Certification

The standards for teachers are being raised again! The federal education acts No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, privately funded education initiatives like the Bill and Melinda Gates’ College Ready Promise, and countless other education reforms have impacted the way which teacher quality is assessed and valued in this country.

What used to be a process of one or two classroom visits by a school administrator has now turned into something exceptionally more rigorous --- and this evaluation process is beginning earlier than ever! No longer are teacher evaluations reserved for in-service teachers (i.e. those already employed as educators), but the pressures to plan and execute great lessons have now trickled into pre-service education programs for those who haven’t even set foot in a classroom yet!

The requirements to become credentialed as a teacher have become more rigorous over the years. Now, states around the country are requiring that aspiring teachers videotape themselves teaching a lesson and submit it for evaluation.

California, the state with the second largest school district in the nation (the Los Angeles Unified School District), has been an early adopter of this new video recording requirement. The California Teacher Performance Assessment (CalTPA) is “a set of standards that clearly outline what beginning teachers should know and be able to do before receiving a preliminary credential.”

There are four parts to the CalTPA: 1. Subject Specific Pedagogy Task; 2. Designing Instruction Task; 3. Assessing Learning Task; and 4. Culminating Teaching Activity Task. The fourth task is the one that requires aspiring teachers to design a lesson and video tape themselves implementing that lesson. With this new CalTPA requirement, no person in the state of California can be credentialed as a teacher without first videotaping themselves teaching a lesson and receiving a passing score of a 3 or 4 (grading scale is out of 4).

California isn’t alone in their quest to improve teacher quality as a way to increase student performance. It was just announced that New York, the state with the largest school district in the nation (New York City), will also be implementing a new teacher credentialing process that requires aspiring teachers to submit a lesson plan and video recording of them teaching that lesson, along with the other teaching requirements.

When commenting about the importance of adding this new video recording element to the teacher credentialing process, Jon Snyder, dean of Bank Street College of Education in Manhattan, says, “You have to be able to drive a car to get a driver’s license. You can’t just pass the paper-and-pencil test — so it’s a pretty obvious need in the field.”

Given all the changes to the teacher credentialing process, it will only be a matter of time before the bar is raised for all aspiring and current teachers to videorecord their lessons and demonstrate their talents in a classroom setting.

Video Lessons for Teacher Certification

Mandela Schumacher-Hodge is a former middle school teacher and doctoral student at UCLA. She is currently the co-founder & chief operation officer of DemoLesson, an innovative online hiring platform for teachers. In her spare time, Mandela loves to exercise, spend quality time with family and friends, and search for new adventures and experiences.