Finally. I have channeled the inner YouTuber that exists in the depths of my soul but was too busy or afraid to summon until now. I started a personal blog as a hobby two summers ago. I created an unlisted YouTube channel out of necessity about two weeks ago.
“Hey Guys!”, as the elite YouTubers and vloggers would say with such enthusiasm. Welcome to the world of remote learning. This place is strange. On Friday, March 13th, I was not so cordially invited to the world of distance learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Other educators across the nation, around the world, and in my own living room, because my husband is also a teacher, have had no choice but to deliver instruction and learning guidance to our students using online platforms.
The college course for teaching elementary students remotely during a pandemic was never offered in the credential programs. Strangely, I have a distant memory of sitting in a Saturday Seminar teacher course at Saint Mary’s College in 2005. One of the keynote speakers mentioned something called YouTube. It was described as some form of online communication. I jotted it down somewhere but didn’t spell it right. I think I scribbled down, “You Too”. I was half listening at the time.
It is now April, 2020. I made the official decision to upload some of my teaching content on YouTube as a supplement to the other components of my remote learning model. The virtual audience for this new platform is the most important following I’ve ever had. They are the 8 and 9 year olds whose physical classroom setting and teacher were suddenly taken from them this year and they won’t be getting them back as a third grader. It’s been life-changing and heartbreaking. I wanted to give each of the kids an opportunity to still see and hear their teacher somehow.
It felt awkward at first, filming and essentially talking to myself, but it has evolved into a fun and creative outlet for me as well. I purchased a cheap ring light and a microphone. I taught myself how to edit video clips and add music and some cheesy time-lapse effects and transitions. In these trying times, I’ve actually found something that’s motivating and fun, and I thank my “followers” for this.
Imagine my delight when I found out that one of my students watched my writing videos and in turn, wrote a beautiful personal narrative based on the strategies and tips that I had demonstrated. Someone was listening! If not the student, their sweet and helpful parent who may have learned something too. I remember what that felt like within the four walls of the classroom and I’m still mourning the loss of those powerful teacher-student moments when information clicked for all parties involved.
This is a challenging period in everyone’s lives, but as I try to convey to my students often, we should keep learning, keep creating, keep documenting this historical time, and try our best to keep having fun. I’m not sure how many of my students realize it, but they’re all motivating me to do the same.