If you’re a video teacher, raise your hand…

Yeah – please do raise your hand. You are a techno-geek with all of the goodies and know how to use them. And (more than anyone else) you know it isn’t the goodies that make good video…it’s the mind and eye behind the camera.

How many of you have this fun rush every year (details may vary, depending on location, state, time of year)? Mine is called senior project…and I should have seen it coming last year when we produced our very first senior class at McNair High School. Each senior is responsible for a research paper and a physical product. The latter means show something that proves you learned a skill, a concept…whatever.

So last year a couple of seniors in my broadcasting class used video in their projects to demonstrate what they had learned. They realized the potential of video as a tool.

A few weeks ago I meandered through the admin part of the school and was cruising through this year’s crop of posters produced by seniors…posters had the name of the project and how they would prove what they learned. Oops. In a casual count, about 1/4 or more were making videos. I could see the tsunami heading my way, so put out a quick advisory to senior teachers. Do NOT even ALLOW your seniors to come to me on short notice expecting to borrow equipment or learn what I teach in one day.

But (not wanting to be a total spoilsport) I did demur. Next week during fall break I’m putting on a workshop for seniors only – a basic video production for dummies on how to pull off making a quick and dirty video with minimal gear. Will repeat after school later in October.

So why soften up? Reality. The kids are gonna make the videos – not matter what. Then when it looks bad or they just can’t figure it out, they’ll turn up on my doorstep, one by one, with big brown eyes pleading for help. The only sensible way to do this is to simplify and make them responsible. Give them the basic information they need so they can have some kind of success. And keep it simple. Students need to realize there are limits – they need to set realistic goals.

Not that I’m against setting high goals. But if you barely know how to run a camera and have no concept of production values, keep it simple. Know what your gear (and you) can do. And please keep your audience in mind and be kind.

Yeah…I’m one hard case all right.


2 thoughts on “If you’re a video teacher, raise your hand…

  1. Fall break? How do you swing that? We’ve been in school 6 weeks and I could sure use a break, but it’s another two months till Thanksgiving.

    I just hope your students are better at heeding your call to help them. Our students here all act as if they never know about anything until after it happens.

  2. How do I swing that? We’re on four nine week (more or less) quarters or semesters. There are days when I forget which. We’re actually on a four by four block schedule, so we get done in 18 weeks what it takes regular schedule (as ALL other schools in our district are on) a full year to accomplish.

    Good stuff: students only have to spend a half year if they hate the class/teacher. Goes both ways I guess if you have a difficult class.

    Bad stuff – I always feel as if I’m behind.

    So the schedule goes as follows:
    August-September-and a bit of either July or October
    Two weeks off
    Two weeks off
    January-February-part of March
    Two weeks off
    Two weeks off
    Two months off for summer

    Yeah…I’ll find out Tuesday if the seniors are ready to roll or if I have to darken my room and hide out come this spring. Over the past few years I’ve kind of felt for the kids cause the staff was clueless about video production.

    This year I sent out a procedure to even consult with me, what I will and won’t do, and why they shouldn’t just hand out video extra credit or regular assignments like candy (discriminatory against kids w/o the goodies) and expect the kids to figure it out.

    I’m also making a PowerPoint available with the extreme basics of how to pull of a usable video.

    So this year it’s on the teachers – if they make an assignment without regard for student abilities or resources, I will recommend the student go right back to the teacher and ask for a more reasonable alternative. (Of course, same teachers don’t know how to grade a video properly either)

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