“If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it twice, I’ve said it a million times.” Whoever started this phrase had to be either a teacher or a parent. I love working with people as they learn something, but it can often be frustrating as a teacher when it feels like you’re saying the same thing over and over and over again.
However, I know I don’t learn things on the first try either. The first time I tried to water ski, despite listening closely to instructions, I fell on my face. The same thing happened the next time and the time after that. Despite doing it for years, I’m still by no means an expert. It’s not natural for my body.
In his book Outliers, Malcom Gladwell cites that it takes 10,000 hours to perfect a skill. And since I only see my students about an hour a day for about 180 days a year, we’re very far from that 10,000 hours. I, on the other hand, have been doing the skills I teach for years. They’re natural for me, and I can therefore sometimes have unrealistic expectations for how quickly my students will catch on. My students need to hear it explained multiple times and have feedback in their attempts.
However, I’m not always available to re-explain a concept to them. Therefore, I started creating videos for them, explaining skills we constantly use. They’re really simple screencasts, but they allow students to go at their own pace. To pause the explanation. To replay it as many times as they like.
And the beautiful part: they do. I hear them listen to it in class (it takes a little bit to get over hearing your voice come through their speakers). I see the view count go up as they work at home.
Further, this frees up my time to give them feedback on what they’re creating. As I look through their work, I can give them more specific help. For some students this means commenting with a link to my video, asking them to watch it again. And for others, I join them face-to-face to discuss the holes I see in their skills.
And it’s great for parents, too. I can share with them the things I’ve taught in class. This allows them to understand my expectations and give their students more specific help.
So give it a try. It doesn’t have to be complex. Just talk into your device as you would teach your students in class. It’s finally an opportunity to clone yourself and give students the reinforcement they need.