Dear Teachers…

I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to collaborate with Dario Demetlika during my whole career. He was, in fact, one of my ‘safe places’ during the highs and lows of my practicum experience (far too many years ago to share, ha!) and continues to be someone I respect and admire. He is a classroom teacher and also a Technology Support Teacher in SD43, and I decided to reach out to him and ask for some support.

One of the challenges we face when working to film, is finding a quiet place (we’re still working to use the audio equipment successfully) where there won’t be too much background noise. Initially we filmed in the classroom space, but that required us to engage in near-silent work which simply didn’t meet the needs of all our leaners. Our “Quiet on set” and “Filming in progress” signs became a sources of tension and the project was creating division instead of connection. I knew we needed a new plan… actually THEY knew we needed one, and the told me so.

So, I invited Mr. D to come help us ‘divide and concur’ and meet all our learning needs. The plan initially was the Mr. D would come hang out in the classroom while I work with the kids to film, but changed once I saw how excited they were to have a guest teacher join us. It renewed their excitement for the project, as they all wanted to ‘show off’ for and impress Mr. D with their skills, articulation, thoughtfulness, and outgoing personalities. It was such fun to see them become SOOOO animated, and so confident in the role of ‘leader.’ I thought this might be an interesting little side-experiment for my own inquiry:

“How might my learner’s responses change if I am not in the filming space?”

I wondered if my being in the space might inhibit, or influence the kids’ answers and filmed responses. Were they giving honest feedback, or were they filtering their ideas/thoughts to avoid offending, upsetting, or insulting me? I had hoped that all our work developing trust and connections with each other would be powerful enough that the kids would share their truths without concern for possible ‘backlash’… but I couldn’t really be sure… until now. I talked to Mr. D and asked him to coach the kids to “be honest” and give “real answers” so that I would have the opportunity to be one of the teachers they educate too. Instead of following our original collaboration plan, Mr. D and I switched rolls. I would stay in the classroom, and he would take them to film.

The novelty of a guest teacher was QUITE the draw – as evidenced in the photo below that documents a 5 minute time frame.


So here was the new plan:

Mr. D + Ipad pro + Padcaster Studio + learner brainpower + “Dear Teachers” framework = LOTS of footage. Lots of AMAZING footage.

The kiddos were so articulate, and thoughtful, and I was delighted to see self-reflection through their eyes. What I valued most were the personal stories about how the kids utilized self-reflection independently and the impact it had on them, on their connections to others (and themselves). I was also a bit relieved to see that the kids were being honest with (or without) me being present – the content of their footage didn’t change much but the confidence, poise, and clarity of responses DID change. They were so much more confident when filming with Mr. D. I can’t say for certain what caused this change, but I know that Mr. D has a special gift for connecting with kids, and drawing out the things that make them shine. It was such a fun experience for us all. I had the opportunity to step back and see the kiddos through a new lens, Mr. D had fun playing with our new technology (which he LOVES, and wants to recommend to others as a TST), and the kids had a chance to learn with another teacher and share some of their ideas.

So, here is the first edited video from our most recent footage. More videos to follow shortly!

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