Like many teachers, I started recording videos of many of my lessons just over a year ago. Those first ones were SO hard to make! I scripted everything…the words, the images, the transitions, the pacing…yes, everything. It wasn’t unusual for me to spend more than 30 minutes, sometimes almost an hour, planning for a 5-minute minilesson.
Another thing I struggled with was saying everything perfectly. I’d start the recording and then find myself saying, “Umm…” too many times, or I’d start ad libbing and forget what I was supposed to say next. There were many times that I got tongue-tied and stumbled over a word. Whenever this happened, I started recording again or planned to spend time editing the video later. There was one lesson that had about 10 retakes. Getting it just right was one thing I could do to support my students in the early days of remote learning.
I also spent a lot of time double-checking everything before I posted it to Google Classroom. I’d rewatch the video, write out all of the directions carefully, and reread the directions multiple times to make sure that I wouldn’t be bombarded with emails asking, “What am I supposed to do?” or “I don’t get it!” It was exhausting, and even though I knew it was not sustainable, I kept at it.
Once, as I was looking over student questions and responses to an assignment, I wondered why so many were having a hard time with the reading strategy I’d so carefully modeled in the minilesson video. I decided to rewatch the lesson and see if I could figure out why.
My jaw dropped about 20-seconds into the video. Instead of seeing me annotate the text and record my thinking on a doc, only the main window of my computer, the one with the description of the minilesson, was recorded. As it turns out, I skipped some of my usual quality-control checks to get this assignment out to all four classes on time. Ugh! Why couldn’t just one of the over-one hundred 5th graders have emailed me about this oversight?!?
This is when I realized that “good enough” is all my students really need, even during remote learning. “One take” became my new rule, which I mostly followed. If I misspoke, forgot to explain something, or didn’t have the visuals perfectly choreographed, that was fine. There would be a chance to follow up in another lesson. It was my chance to follow what I always say to my students: “You never have to try to be perfect; just try to do the best you can each day with the time and resources that you have.”