Rats. I’ve been asked the same question over and over lately, and I never know how to answer it without spending ten minutes in a passionate conversation. No, I’m not talking about that super awkward moment when someone asks me why my husband and I don’t have children (we’re probably selfish/I must hate kids). I’m talking about all of the genuinely confused people who wonder why I would want to share videos of myself teaching online. I’m not an egomaniac, but I AM totally obsessed with second language acquisition and the success of our students. From now on, when I’m asked why I manage a vlog, I’ll simply forward this post:

#1 – Professional Development

What happens in our classrooms is too private, and many teachers never get to learn from other teachers around their schools, let alone from around the world. We need more collaboration, and we need more professional development time in order to improve our teaching and learning. Unfortunately, most districts don’t make teacher preparation a priority: they don’t fit it into their budgets, and they don’t fit it into our schedules. Sharing videos of our classes is free PD that we can take advantage of anywhere at any time, and I’m probably stalking some poor teacher online this very moment! 

#2 – Time    

For years I’ve been uploading our class videos on YouTube for families and teachers, and I’ve been posting more frequently lately. This has led to dozens of online inquiries from teachers with questions and critique, but I just can’t manage it all. So, I started to categorize the videos with short explanations on this vlog in order to save us all time. De nada. 

#3 – Comprehensible Input (or Whatever Teaching Method You Subscribe To)

When I decided to provide more hippie comprehensible input, I had no idea what it looked like. I read all of the recommended books, listened to the podcasts, and attended many workshops, but listening and reading isn’t the same as seeing these techniques in action. THEN, I happened upon Tina Hargaden’s YouTube channel. This crazy lady regularly uploads videos of herself teaching, and she does an amazing job. Hours and hours of The Tina Show finally led me to a more concrete understanding of CI, and I’ll never teach without it again. If real life DIY teaching videos help me, then…

#4 – The Conference Proposal  

Many teachers who have something to share decide to present at a conference. How do y’all know almost a year in advance what you want to share? How do you know if your district is going to allow you to go? How do you know what the people want, but then not cry like a baby when they sneak out the back door because you got it wrong? Who are these spouses that allow you to spend your personal money when your administration won’t cover the conference expenses? Sure, I’ve presented before, but I have some major commitment issues. This vlog allows me to share whatever I want whenever I want at no cost to myself or to my ‘workshop attendees’. You don’t like the video? Move along. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. 

#5 – Those Millennials

When I was a kid my mom used to buy me one Grolier Encyclopedia of Knowledge every-other time we visited the grocery store. Unfortunately, we finally owned the complete set just in time for us to get the internet at home. When we want to learn something new today, we all go to YouTube. In fact, nearly 70% of millennials agree they can find a video on anything they want to learn, and they’re “2.7x more likely to prefer to do so by watching a YouTube video compared to reading a book or other resource.” I’d like to say I know my market… errrr, audience.  

#6 – It’s My Jam

I’m not a blogger. Take a look around… See all of the grammatical mistakes? “Yes”. Have I said anything revolutionary? “Nope”. Instead of a blogger, I’m a vlogger: I don’t need to create something new every day, I hit record on a camera that’s always ready, I teach my class, I edit the footage so that I don’t embarrass my kids, and I try to give credit when possible. Sure, it’s scary. Sure, I wear the same thing every day and rarely brush my hair. Sure, I’m not a native speaker, I talk too fast, and my kids aren’t always paying attention. However, it feels right for kids, it’s fun… and it’s fun.

#7 – The International Teacher Shortage

All parents want the cream of the crop for their children, but there’s no cream if there’s no crop. Why don’t principals in many districts have a huge pool of qualified world language teacher candidates? There are many reasons for the shortage, but one of our issues is the lack of teacher preparedness. Most of us weren’t actually ready to teach when we entered our first classroom, some schools don’t provide qualified mentors and the scheduled time to collaborate with them, and we are continuously given new mandates without training. It’s hard for a teacher to ever feel adequate under these conditions, and so they leave. I would have loved to watch dozens of teachers online as a new teacher, just to know that I was doing okay. Or, NOT doing okay: “Sorry, class of 2008! I knew not what I was doing!” 

#8 – I Need It

I really want to be a good teacher. Nothing is worse than sitting on my yoga ball at the end of a crappy day with the little voice that says, “You suck at this. Your kids didn’t learn anything. You can’t control the chaos. Perhaps you should find a new career.” The only way I can deal with these feelings is to be constantly learning and improving. Every time I watch these videos I can pinpoint teaching strategies that need some work, I hear numerous TL errors, I notice individual students who were in La La Landia without intervention, and I see missteps in classroom management. Similarly, I get great criticism on the regular from my viewers who have no filter when it comes to online commentary. How many other teachers get so many observations a day? I’m the lucky one, even if it feels like some everlasting ancient torture method. 

#9 – NBCT

Self reflection via teaching videos is required for a few of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards components, so it must be important! #Wink

#10 – My Kids Love It

“5 views, Breck-Dawg? We’re basically famous.”

 

PS. Another common question I get is regarding parent permission for sharing images of minors. Fortunately, my district asks every single family to sign a media waiver at summer registration. This allows us to share with families and the community on Facebook, share extracurricular photos with local media, and so much more. There are usually 10-20 students who cannot be seen, but we just avoid those class hours.

11 comments

Tell me something! Ask me anything!

  • You’re a passionate teacher and it shows!
    Thanks for sharing your videos with the world. 🙂
    Love PD that I can access when it is convenient for me.

    • That’s how I feel about YOU! I’ve learned a lot from you over the years, and as soon as I run out of ideas I’ll be going back through all of your archives for more!

  • Hey lovely Sarah! Have you thought about teaching a summer Spanish class for the students that are not as lucky to have you as their teacher 🙂

  • Being the only language teacher in my building, face-to-face collaboration does not exist in my world. Also, due to the challenging behavior and environment/culture of our school, it is extremely difficult to find subs, making it near impossible for me to ever get approval to attend conferences/workshops. My content-based PD is basically Twitter, which is where I found you and your vlog! I’m headed into my 20th year teaching Spanish and English (wow…time flies!), and still everyday I make it a point to either learn something new or try out a new technique/strategy/lesson that I learned from someone online or read about. 🙂 On that note, thank you SO MUCH for providing these awesome videos and letting me stalk your vlog!! This might sound horrible…I read/research a ton, but YOU are the very first person I’ve ever observed teaching in a real-life classroom setting, with real-life students (without the worry of it being something that was only created/scripted for training purposes). After observing you teach the first time (the parachute lesson…so cool!), I knew I’d be back for more! Your students are soooo awesome! I’m sure all teachers want the same type of success with their own students (I DO!!), but not everyone knows how to get there…how to make that leap from okay to great. You are the bridge that is helping me make that leap (I’m crossing the bridge pretty slow, but at least I’m still moving forward!). I know it must take forever to edit the videos that you post, but I want you to know that your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. You are valued and appreciated! Thank you so much for your help and support. You inspire me to be a better teacher, and you motivate me to keep trying every day (thank goodness b/c things do not always turn out the same way I imagined them to…hehee!). Sarah, you 🎸ROCK 🎸….keep it up! ☺💯🎉

    • OH. MY. GOSH. This is the kindest message ever. I know exactly what you’re talking about because I’m online finding example videos and searching for teaching answers on the daily! I also agree with your comment regarding the the high cost of PD and conference attendance. Many of these learning experiences are for the teachers in well-funded schools, specific teachers who are deemed worthy of the cost, or for teachers who ask for PD for their Christmas gift. This amounts to a very small percentage of teachers who are able to experience learning via live PLC with expert trainers. It’s an awful circumstance that kind of mirrors the SES hurdles that our students have. I can’t wait to tell my kids how awesome you think they are! The comments mean so much more when they don’t come from their ‘mom’. 🙂 Happy summertime, and thanks for being my friend!