Reality Check

I recently started a new project that will be using Teaching Channel’s Teams platform. I am really excited about it and am almost done figuring out how to train people on the platform. I modeled the training after an in-person experience a group of colleagues and myself had last month in Oakland with the Teaching Channel staff. I enjoyed learning with the people at Teaching Channel immensely and figured I could replicate something similar for others fairly easily. The two big challenges were that my audience was long distance meaning I would need a virtual training and that we might not be able to do any face to face work meaning I needed to make it asynchronous. Luckily using the tool itself solves these challenges. Now all I needed was the content.

Most of that was easy. Teaching Channel has amazing resources to use and all I really had to do was pick something for participants to video themselves doing. The parameters were that it needed to be something everyone might not already know how to do, require little to no supplies, and not be too complicated. I also needed to make a rubric about the topic. Somehow, I landed on how to do a proper cartwheel. Why, oh why, didn’t someone talk me out of this?

Here’s the thing. It sounds easy. Videotape yourself doing a cartwheel. Upload it. Look at a rubric about how to improve cartwheels. Help others improve by giving them feedback on their cartwheel. Great. No problem. Sounds fun. I got this!

Except, have you ever looked at video of yourself doing a cartwheel?!?!

In my case, watching that 30 second video brought up a slew of emotions and my first thought was something along the lines of, “Oh boy. Delete, delete, delete. Edit? Am I really going to edit a cartwheel video?” Quickly followed by, “well, maybe someone else will post a video to comment on instead of having a model in there for others first”. 

And that’s where my ah-ha moment happened. If I am not willing to put out a less than perfect video of myself doing something where I clearly need some improvement, then how can I expect others to? That is, after all, one of the goals with using the tool. If I am truly practicing what I preach, then I need to vulnerable as an example for others by leading the way. So after wrestling with some negative self talk demons, I decided to upload the cartwheel to the platform. As is. In fact, here it is for you all to see too:

My reality check? With a simple task of cartwheeling and getting only a tiny bit of footage, I was terrified of putting it out there for people to see. Let alone have people coach me on how to do it better. If I feel that way about a cartwheel, how would I feel about filming myself doing my chosen profession? Something I consider myself good at and then inviting others to critique? That is the ask with people who are courageous enough to choose to use this platform. And it is also powerful.

As a community of educators, imagine just how quickly we could learn from one another through these videos? How many great ideas could be shared? How many potential challenges could be addressed?How many adjustments to our practice or refinements could we make to reach all kids? So, yes, it might be scary. But it also might make you a better teacher for your students. And in the end, isn’t that what we aspire to?

So the moral of my story: Be brave. Be courageous. Be vulnerable. And know that everyone else is in the same boat with you helping you row.