“Geckos Don’t Wear Snowsuits” … And Other Poorly Focused Video Gems

As I’ve blogged about before, I have a lot to learn about being an accomplished photographer/videographer … even the 15,180 Instagram posts in the past 5 years haven’t made me better. 🙂 I know the value in what you can see in a good video and great picture, but in an attempt to keep my eye on the child and my focus on what’s happening at the time, I rarely capture anything wonderful. In fact, I’m fairly certain that I break every one of Joanne Babalisphotography suggestions. Sometimes though, there can be hidden gems in the midst of a bad camera angle.

I’ve noticed some of these gems in the past couple of weeks.

First, there was this painting recording.

I really wanted to see the evolution of his painting, but he didn’t get far when his co-artist spilled a big jar of red paint. One might question why I continued recording at this point. I’m not sure. I probably forgot that I was recording when the paint spilled. Listening back to this discussion in the evening though, I was proud of myself. Years ago, this “paint disaster” would have totally stressed me out. My teaching partner, Paula, though has changed how I respond to these kinds of messes. I’m calmer now. I know that kids can clean up just about any spill. Even when, in the midst of this spilled paint, a child comes to get me to see his “gourmet pizza,” I somehow manage to promise that I’ll go … and I do. This video recording might not have captured the child’s learning, but it did capture mine … and an improvement in my response to problems

Next, there were the dioramas. When Paula and I thought about this space, we figured that students would take the boxes over to the creative table to paint. At first, we tried to suggest this, but kids really did make areas that worked for them. Both of us found ourselves intrigued by what the children were doing, and had that intense desire to both look and look away. 

As I sat down at the eating table in front of this artwork, I was taken by how calm the environment felt despite the mess. 

Its looking and listening back to what happened that helped Paula and I decide to continue with this diorama work … on the floor as it was on this day. Even some imperfect videos helped us capture the special moments of messy wonderfulness!

Then, there was the undressing post. In my 19 years of teaching, I’ve only taught junior grades for two years. Somehow, I still managed to have primary prep coverage at the end of the day or after a nutrition break for both years, so I’ve helped undress and redress kids MANY times. I used to want/crave help for this process. It took so long during the winter months. Maybe though, I needed to reframe the problem, and search for the learning in the midst of the dressing and undressing process. I’ve tried to do that recently, and sometimes I even reflect on it. This was true a few days ago.

One might question why I kept videotaping, especially when one child was far from being ready. Maybe the camera going had me responding differently and trying a little humour. When the four-year-old responded to my snowsuit query with “geckos don’t wear snowsuits,” 🙂 I had to laugh. Listening back to this conversation that evening, I thought, we can choose to feel stressed or we can choose to smile. A reminder for me to find these extra opportunities to chuckle.

After that, there was the post when I recorded everything but what I intended to record. I was so proud of this student’s artwork, and I really wanted to hear her thinking behind it. I thought that this could be a great opportunity to also build some new vocabulary and storytelling skills. Paula was on her lunch, but all was going well, so I thought that I had the time for this one-on-one discussion. I was wrong. As soon as I pressed “record,” everyone had something to tell or ask me.

In one minute, I managed to address everything from lunch to glue to a one-arm doll. On Thursday night, as I listened back to this recording, I thought, a classroom reality likely means some additional noise, interruptions, and changes in conversation. I was tempted not to publish this post, but I’m glad that I did. Maybe there’s value in embracing life’s bloopers. We must all have some of these moments. 

Finally, there was the creative table recording. Paula and I merge our photographs and videos to share more detailed learning stories and reflections of the day. We used to watch and reflect on some of these together, but given our new normal, we usually watch them in the evening and discuss them through text message as needed. The post below was one of the recordings that I didn’t listen to until that night.

I was taken by how many different things are happening here, and how Paula can watch and listen to all of them, and then respond to one small piece without breaking stride. I keep thinking about those educators — I’m one — who find it hard to take in everything all at once. What do they do? Maybe it’s this kind of video that helps me figure out what to do (or what to say) the next day. 

I still have hopes of improving my photography and videography skills, and have certainly been thinking about the tips in Joanne’s post since I read it this week. Maybe in the midst though of some poor recordings and unfocused pictures, I can find a little learning and unexpected reflections for me and for our kids. How do you learn from blurry photographs and shaky videos? I continue to strive to be more content with my perfect imperfection while still searching for improvement.


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