A few weeks ago, my well-connected and fearless Vice Principal Tia stopped me in the hall and said something to the effect of…Dean Shareski is coming to Bear Creek and wants to spend some time in a classroom-how about yours?
After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I stammered out an, “of course, do you think he would help me with our Kiva video?”
Tia smiled and said something (I don’t quite remember, I was too shocked to think) and continued on her way. At that point it sunk in…Dean Shareski…THE Dean Shareski that was the featured speaker at our Digital Learner dinner series…Discovery Ed Dean who knows everybody…is coming to my class…oh no, what have I done???
No pressure. Breathe. Don’t freak out. You’ll be ok…
So, trying to get organized, I sent a quick DM and asked Dean if I could send him some information on our project. He was very gracious and said yes, so I e-mailed some links on the project and the general concept for our video. Then I confessed that I really had very little experience with video and digital storytelling and asked about which tools to use so that I could prepare by watching tutorials and the like. Having recently been very ill, and with life in general, my confidence was running low so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
His response was exactly what I needed to hear:
“iMovie works wonderfully and I can help you with that”
I can help you with that. The most reassuring six words. From that simple phrase I knew that this was going to be a great experience. I relaxed and found myself getting energized and excited about what we could do with the class on this project. I didn’t have to have all the answers, to know everything ahead of time. I could do what I do best-which is work with my students. Be creative, play, have fun, support the kids to be in charge and take ownership of their project. The rest would work out along the way. My self-confidence was restored.
You see, creativity comes when you are calm, relaxed and can think. (My fantastic student teacher Sarah put it best when she taught the class “my amygdala is freaking out!” during one of her Mind-Up lessons. An amygdala that is “freaking out” blocks the other brain functions.)
Self doubt is the biggest road block to creativity.
I can help you with that. A phrase that I sure my grade 12 calculus teacher said to me on several occasions. A phrase my AP biology and chemistry teacher embodied. I can help you with that-the look my piano teacher gave me after a devastating concerto performance. I think the phrase, “I can help you with that” is the key to helping a struggling student relax enough to open the thought channels so that they can ponder a question, understand a concept or bounce back from a bad performance.
“I can help you with that” means taking the time to understand where the student is coming from and what support they need to get to the finish line. Isn’t it ironic that time is the most powerful gift we can give our students but as teachers we seem to have so very little of it? Your time is your best gift. Choose wisely.
When the big day finally arrived, Dean was that teacher who made you feel like you could do anything. A level stare, a smile that was genuine and an unspoken expectation that you would do your best and that would be enough.
The students were their usual brilliant selves and they clearly adored “Mr. Shareski” who made them feel special and important. Dean was so natural with the kids, it was clear that he loved to teach. We worked through technical glitches, we made a big green screen, we sang, we danced and we stood back and let the kids fight with ninja sticks…we even had some stand up comedy from the peanut gallery of adults in the room…yes Austin you are hilarious. It was a fantastic afternoon of fun and learning.
After the students went home, Dean spent some time working with me showing me how to use iMovie and the green screen, how to import and edit video footage from “editable” Discovery Education downloadable video and how to sync the recorded audio with the video clips. Before we knew it, it was time to get stared with the “smackdown” event (see Tia’s blog post with more photos here and Dean’s post here) but as we were finishing up I turned to Dean and asked if I could e-mail him if I had questions. I explained that I was planning to go to the Apple store at the mall because they ran iMovie workshops. He turned to me and said, “of course you can” and added that he could even help with a google hangout if needed later in the week.
And there it is: once a teacher, always a teacher. I can help you with that.
So Kiva Ninja Master Dean, thank you for everything you did for my students and I. It was a wonderful learning experience that we will remember for years to come. I promise to teach my students how to use iMovie (and anyone else who asks) because you gave me the confidence to make digital storytelling part of how I teach. Because…I am an iMovie ninja!