- Think too far ahead. I learned very quickly that making a few videos ahead of time felt disingenuous and created more work in the long run. A couple of my longer videos (see below) could have been much shorter because it turned out that my students already knew about the coordinate plane. Oops. However, because I had already recorded the video, it was still their assignment. Oops again. This fall, I plan to set aside 10 minutes every couple days to make a quick video that addresses some potential pitfalls of their current (or forecasted) troubles.
- Upload videos without organizing them. When I started, I just put them onto YouTube, then would share a link for the kids to view. Even with Google Classroom, it isn’t organized. I ended up building a website that has the videos categorized for easy access (it isn’t great, but it helped my students: mrstevens.weebly.com). Another teacher I know has all of his videos with Bitly links and they are customized to be really organized.
- Teach as though you were teaching your class. The first few videos I made were 17, 21, and 22 minutes long. Participation was low and enthusiasm was as well. Based on informal surveys to my students, I learned that 3-5 minute videos worked the best. The shorter, the better.
- Teach to an imaginary whole room. My teaching style is built on the energy in the room. When I started making videos (after school hours), nobody was in the seats. It felt… empty. At the time, I had a couple students who liked to stay after and help, so I put them to work. They sat right behind the camera and I taught to them as if I was tutoring rather than instructing an entire class. It made life a lot easier for me, and the feedback from students was positive.
- Assume students will watch the entire video. Even with short videos, my students would skip around. Hey, I even do that when I’m trying to find something. Knowing that they would skip through the explanations and just copy it down helped me prepare my live lessons differently, and I think they were better.
- Assume students have no opinion. When I started creating videos, it was just plug and chug, head down, get through them. It wasn’t until I started asking my students, about two weeks into it, for their thoughts. It’s weird, right? Having a video version of me teaching a live version of you? At the end of every week, I would ask if the videos were helping, and what I could do to make them better. If you look at my website, which you definitely don’t need to do, you’ll see that I tried different variations. The one my students disliked the most was when I used a screen recording app. They wanted to see the problems worked out by hand. It made sense to me, so I did that for them.
- Assume you are the only ones who want to record. Yes, when we were a couple months into the video-making, my students started asking if they could do the next lesson. Being that they were some of my higher-performing students anyways, it made the decision easier. I taught them the content for a couple lessons ahead, then they made the video and we put it onto the site. This was a fun way to hand over ownership as the class got more comfortable with the format.
- Feel like you need to be perfect. But it’s going on video! Once I gave up on the need to be perfect, my videos became more me. Now, if I royally screwed up, sure, I’d re-record. However, a few mistakes here and there, a dropped marker, a quick erasure, all made the final cut.
- Feel like the videos are worthless. During this process, I doubted whether the videos had value. That was until I received messages from parents, asking about a certain step in the video. Yes, parents were using the videos to help their kids with the work. Also, before state testing, an assignment for the students was to take a previous topic, go back, watch the video(s) for it, and create a new one based on their new understanding. The videos served as a spiral tool, something I never planned for (but have since)!
I think that’s all for now. Does that help a little? Is it too much? Truth be told, I’ll be figuring this whole thing out all over again in the fall, so there’s a good chance I’m missing something—or a lot of things.
Where is your head at with the video-making process?
Happy "You're Gonna Do Just Fine" Fishing