I have a guest post over at Wes Fryer’s blog website, Moving at the Speed of Creativity, today. It’s about the toolkit I use to make my videos, and what I’m learning about myself and my teaching from making them.
Here’s some of the core ideas:
Blogging was reflective, but it didn’t really help my teaching style improve directly. The YouTube video series is much more about direct instruction. One of the first examples of this was a video about sentence structure. Another video, about the Indian Monsoons and their effect on trade routes, is also a big hit, not just with me but with people in India.
Because there’s a worldwide audience, I find I’m much more careful about speaking what I believe is true. I don’t want to get slammed by people around the world for saying wrong things about their country… but I also welcome the opportunity to show students the comments the videos are drawing, and showing them that I’m capable of being wrong. My students thought the guy who thought my video was boring was funny. They assured me that they thought the video was useful, even if this guy thought it was dull.
I think the last points I want to make are about vulnerability and openness. A lot of students are watching these videos, apparently, because there are a lot of re-watches. People are getting useful ideas from the videos, and understanding things about writing and about history from them. Even though I’m responsible for my students’ learning, now it’s possible that I’m responsible for some of your students’ learning, too. Even though I’m continuing to speak to my students, I’m trying to be conscious that I’m speaking to a larger audience than just the kids in my own classroom. Does it make me a better teacher? Time will tell.
And I think that’s the critical thing to recognize. When you become a digitally active teacher, your work affects a larger audience than just yourself. Being a blogger, it turns out, is a relatively minor way to reach out to the world. But being a maker of videos or slideshows, or really making anything for others to use online, turns out to be a big way to change who you are as a teacher.