I hate professional development videos. They always seem to feature the perfect classes. You know the ones - all the students are behaving, listening intently to the teacher, actively engaged in what they're working on, 99% of them putting up their hand to answer the question.
Before the video is played, we are always told that "these aren't special classes" - just regular kids in a regular lesson (depending on what the PD is highlighting). And while I'm sure the camera enforces good behaviour to a certain extent, I never see behind-the-teacher's-back giggling, or anything flying through the air, or even just one off-task child in the group.
My classes NEVER behave that well. I'm not saying my classes are insane - I've never had to lock the door to keep them all in the room; while giggling happens behind my back, it's never been a free-for-all, and I've certainly never seen my students all-out revolt. But I've also never had that perfect class, and every time I see one of those videos, I not-so-secretly wish that my classes could be like that.
Recently, though, I'm feeling a little better about my classes.
One of the by-products of my BYOD experience this year has been to document what happens in these classes - student behaviours and reactions, frustrations and triumphs. I keep my tablet handy so that I can snap photos of students using their devices in new ways, or to archive their projects (pretty much all of the photos throughout this blog come from my tablet). But I also started taking photos of the students during those moments when they WERE those perfect students in those perfect classes.
And I realized something... those moments weren't as rare as I thought. When I started looking for my students doing spectacular (engaged, on-task, collaborative) things, I started seeing them all the time.
Don't get me wrong - my class hasn't become that perfect class. Usually, just a few seconds after that ideal moment, something breaks their focus and they go back to being their regular somewhat rowdy selves, but being able to document those awesome moments... now I'm starting to feel like those super teachers in those videos!
Our classes don't have to be super all the time (although if they are - AWESOME!), but I'm more easily recognizing the triumphs in my class, and it's encouraging me to persevere on the toughest days.
Do you have a photo-taking device of some kind? Of course you do! I strongly encourage you to always have it at the ready. Even if you don't make the photos public, create a journal for yourself (or even better, collaborate with the students to make a class journal?) and celebrate what's going right.
We are all those super teachers more than we realize!