Being generally less helpful as a teacher

Our class has been planning and starting to create videos about having a growth mindset. Students divided topics up and are each creating short clips. One group is creating music for the video clip and one student is learning how to edit video with Camtasia so he can stitch all our work together.

Today the group using the green screen got started. I stood back and watched them. They asked me which iPad app to use for green screen and another student piped up to answer. I didn’t even get to show off my super-duper teacher “I know how to do this” powers. What happened was way better.

I turned around to help another student and by the time I refocused on the green screen group, they had found an image of the brain, and recorded themselves in front of it using the green screen. A student from another group saw them struggling to hide their interview question page (paper) from the camera and jumped up and asked if he could run to the art room. He came back with a green piece of paper and taped their interview questions to that. This hid the page from the video. Genius. I would never have thought of that.I would have wasted 20 minutes plotting some high-tech teleprompt method.  Yikes.

Our school has a green screen in the library that is available for all classes to use. All set up with everything needed. Its great. Today we were using my own personal green screen set up in the back of our classroom. I hadn’t set up the lights, because we are starting to collect a rather large amount of “stuff” in our classroom (green screen, 3D printer, old macbook for video editing, iRig keyboard, 3Doodler, Wacom tablets, iPad stand, iPad tripod, iPad bin). The teacher I share a classroom with is AMAZING and ok with all this, but I was trying to reduce our impact by leaving the lights in a box until needed. After a few recordings, the students realized on their own that they needed more light to make the green screen disappear completely, so they found and set up the lights and got what they needed. All without me. I didn’t even know they knew that we had lights.

I’ve read a lot lately about being generally “less helpful” as a teacher to support deeper learning and problem solving. Today, I worked with some groups to help them focus their research on what they needed, troubleshoot technology that was acting funky and do some planning. This group, however, I decided to be generally “less helpful” for and instead made notes on the learning skills and strategies that they demonstrated. What a great learning opportunity for me. Standing back and watching instead of interfering let me get a much better understanding of what my students’ strengths and needs are.


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2 Replies to “Being generally less helpful as a teacher”

  1. Great post, Jaclyn! I love this. I have become interested in the work of Sugata Mitra, after our classmate Cat Kerr mentioned his TED talk and his ‘hole-in-the-wall’ experiments — your approach here reminded me of that and the idea of ‘minimally invasive education’ as he puts it.

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