Fostering Relationships In Front Of A Lens: What Do You Do?

As an educator, I’ve always been inspired by what others are doing. Maybe this is the reason that I love Twitter so much. Through hashtags such as #onted #edchat #kinderchat and #reggioPLC, I can see what educators from around the world are doing, and reflect on what this might mean for our classroom. Then there are also the Board specific hashtags and some of my favourite tweeters, who further inspire my practice. Given our current reality, part of my daily work also means looking at educational ideas on Twitter. It’s not uncommon for me to text my teaching partner, Paula, a link based on what I’ve read/seen, and for these ideas coupled with what we both bring to the table, to extend our conversation and help with our planning. Twitter’s responsible for what we both did yesterday.

We’ve been trying to think of a way to reach out to parents. This was not about sharing resources or providing ideas for home learning. The Ontario government has compiled ideas for these next couple of weeks. Our desire was more to connect with our kids and families, say “hello,” and let them know that we’re thinking about them. We miss them. We could compose an email or share a blog post with our thoughts, but neither seemed quite right. That’s when I saw a tweet as part of a conversation among educators (I wish that I could find it now), where a parent commented on how much it meant to her to receive a brief video message from her child’s teacher. Hmmm … we could do this! Paula and I chatted and came up with a plan. We were going to use FaceTime and a screen capturing app to record a video of both of us talking. Then we could upload it to our class blog and share it with families. Things did not go exactly as planned, when our multiple attempts to record only managed us capturing the video without any audio, so we had to go to Plan B. We did get our video message out there though, and it felt good to find a way to connect.

It was soon after we shared our video messages that I noticed other video examples being shared on Twitter. I was really enamoured by the many videos that educators and administrators are sharing through The Ancaster Meadow Twitter account. Every day, both the principal and vice principal are posting video messages to kids. They’re sharing everything from books that they’re reading to hidden talents. I’m jealous of their juggling prowess! I love how they both talk directly to students, while also opening up about their own experiences and skills. Below are just a few examples, but there are so many more!

Even teachers from the school are getting involved in these video tweets! One of the phys-ed teachers, Paula Mataseje, shares some incredible balance in her DPA (Daily Physical Activity) experience, and even challenges kids to give this a try. A good reminder that learning at home can (and should) include physical activity, which might help alleviate some child and adult stress. The daily OPHEA challenges are perfect for this!

Then last night, I saw this wonderful video message from Kristi Keery-Bishop: a principal in our Board. She decided to record a video for her school community.

I appreciate how she’s sharing her dislike of being in front of the camera while also her willingness to continue with these videos if her school community finds them beneficial. Kristi unknowingly made me reflect on my video message, for instead of just saying that she “missed everyone,” she extended this to include the many things that she misses. It’s clear that she connects with kids, and knows about their school and outside interests. In true Kristi style, her hard questions will surely have families thinking while also navigating this new normal. I know that my next video message will definitely include more specifics as another way to hopefully connect with children and families!

With many school boards closed around the world, we’ve all seen the way that online options are being used to educate students. Thanks to Simon, Jeff, the Ancaster Meadow staff, and Kristi, I’m thinking even more about how we can use technology to connect. To build and foster relationships. We know the importance of these connections, and given the COVID-19 reality, maybe we all need these strong relationships even more than before. How are you connecting with your classroom and/or school community? Thanks to the sharing from these educators and administrators, who are helping me think differently and maybe increasing my own willingness to stand in front of the camera instead of more commonly behind it.


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