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.