Recording Myself on Video

Recording yourself on video as a classroom teacher is not unheard of in teacher prep programs.  The idea is that by watching yourself on video you will notice things that aren't obvious to you when you're in the moment of teaching.  I recorded myself teaching/facilitating a lesson years ago and remember learning a few things from the experience -- some good and some not so good.  As I look ahead to starting year ten in education, however, I'm thinking that I should take a look at my classroom from a fly-on-the-wall perspective again.  I believe I'm in a better position in my career to learn much more -- I think -- from a video recording of my own teaching than I was the first time I recorded myself.  I have greater insight in what a classroom should look, sound, and feel like and I'm hoping choosing to videotape myself teaching this year will help me get closer to that ideal.  So, this post is short but has an important purpose: to share my goal of video taping myself teaching this year with you so that I will actually do it!  Stay tuned for a future post on what I learned from the experience.

Here's an article from Harvard University on the "value of self reflection" via video recordings if you'd like to learn more.  Lastly, feel free to let me know if you're a teacher and have videotaped yourself in the classroom before.  Did you do it long ago or recently? What did you learn? Should it be common practice?

Happy back-to-school season,
Ms. Vila

How Twitter Made Me a Much Happier Teacher

Those who know me well know I love my job as an educator. But what many of even my closest friends don't know is that there was a period not too long ago when I contemplated making a career change. This time of frustration had little to do with my district, my school, and certainly not my students. Rather, my disenchantment came about from looking at the much larger picture. I realized I had chosen a career that is not well professionalized, well understood, or well respected.

Thankfully, I recalled my happy teaching days and decided to try to regain my love of being in the classroom and all that it entails. I realized I needed to find highly driven and happy teachers, teachers similar to the younger Ms. Vila, to help resurface those qualities in myself.

Enter: Twitter. I came across Twitter while looking for teacher blogs online. The more I read about teachers using Twitter, the more I knew I needed to open an account. Once in, I discovered countless teachers from around the world sharing, collaborating, and helping one another. I also discovered Twitter chats, scheduled events where participants respond to questions on a particular education topic. These chats are informative, inspiring, and fun!

I continued to "meet" connected educators and participate in chats over the next couple of months. Today, I'm continuously finding fresh ideas for my classroom and building a network of happy and inspiring Twitter-friends. The effects of this cannot be overstated: my excitement and love for the profession are back and are even higher than when I first started teaching! I didn't think Twitter would have such a positive impact, but I'm thrilled it has.

Thanks for reading,
Ms. Vila

List of Twitter Education Chats
Some of my favorite chats are #msmathchat (geared to middle school math teachers), #bfc530 (a 5:30am quick chat for all educators - I usually only have enough energy to lurk that early, but it gives me such a positive start to my day!), and #tmchat (all grade levels and content areas).

My Latest Tweet:


You may have heard of the #iwishmyteacherknew craze that hit last month (April 2015). Colorado teacher Kyle Schwartz had her students finish the phrase "I wish my teacher knew…" without further instruction. The responses she received from her elementary students were both heartbreaking and eye-opening. Read more about her story and her student responses here.

I decided to include the 'I wish my teacher knew' prompt in my third quarter survey (I've surveyed my students each quarter this year) and waited with anticipation for the results. Below are a few of the responses I received. As you will see, some were uplifting, some were silly, and some made me reflect hard on how I can further improve my teaching.

Actual responses from my students: I wish my teacher knew… 
… If I don't do part of my homework it means I don't understand it.
… Class is sometimes easy and sometimes hard.
… How much she's helped me in math this year.
… Kids in class, including me, don't ask questions out loud. They just don't want to seem even dumber compared to the rest of the class.
… How to take care of a baby rhino.
… How awesome she is.
… That I like to sit front and center.
… That working with partners everyday is good.
… That it takes me a while to understand some of the more complicated sections.
… More jokes.

I plan on including this prompt on every future survey (and if you're a teacher I recommend you do too!) Thanks to my students for answering honestly - you guys rock.

Ms. Vila