Teaching Remotely on You Tube

my new classroom: a desk, a laptop and a blue background to hide my messy room

Welcome to teaching in 2020.

The photo above is my new classroom, which is a corner of my bedroom, where I spent 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. In this little corner, I sat at my desk and created lessons for my students to do on their own or I talked to them individually via Zoom. Because I work with severely disabled students, I needed to spend a lot of time remotely training their caregivers too. Some of the caregivers are parents who were suddenly providing around the clock care to their medically fragile children during a pandemic while trying to work remotely. Many of the parents had other children who needed their help with school work.

Welcome to parenting in 2020.

Making Videos for Parents

I began recording videos for parents and caregivers that explained how to educate a student who is visually impaired. It is the same information the aids and teachers get from me at school, but I needed to make it even more succinct for families. The aids at school get direct training over several months, but parents needed that training immediately. Some things they needed to know were:

  • How do you present materials so the student can actually see what you’re showing them?
  • How do you explain what is causing a particular sound when the student can’t see what it is?
  • How do you talk about what is happening in a picture or video that makes sense to a student who can’t see the details of the image?
  • What is Orientation and Mobility? How do you practice it at home?
  • How do you work on a student’s IEP goal at home?

First, I tried to think of what would have the most immediate impact on a parent’s ability to teach their child. My first video was about using descriptive language and how parents could talk about riding a bus while keeping in mind what the student is experiencing (sounds, texture, movement…). But then I realized no one was going to be taking a bus to school any time soon, so my next video lesson was about using descriptive language while cooking a meal. That one seemed to work, so I tried modeling the rest of my videos with home based learning as the focus.

I also tried to think of how to explain general concepts about vision impairment (glare, fixation, lighting, tracking, scanning… etc). Many of my students have Cortical Visual Impairment, so I’m currently working on videos to explain what that is and how to work with a student who appears to see but isn’t understanding what they are seeing.

My You Tube Channel

I shared a few videos with some friends who also have kids with disabilities but don’t attend my school. Those families have asked for more. So now I have a You Tube Channel. You Tube helped me figure out how to access Google Classroom and create content and use Drop Box and Zoom and Padlet and Flip Grid, which are all the platforms I’ve used to make teaching easier for me and easier for families. I hope that my videos will also be helpful.

What will teaching be like in the Fall?

My school is currently on summer break. Schools across my State are making plans to reopen in the Fall. Will it be home based learning again, or will students return to their classroom? Will it be a blend, with some students on campus and others at home? My students are medically fragile so many will choose to stay home, but some may want to see their friends and teachers again. Can we keep them safe? How? And how will teachers stay safe when schools reopen?

I can’t fix education during a pandemic, but if my videos can help a few parents figure out how to support their visually impaired children while they shelter-in-place, then I’ve done part of my job as a teacher. Now, does anyone know how to integrate a Vision Goal into doing the dishes?

Why I like social media

Wait a minute… didn’t I write the internet has trapped us in perpetual adolescence? 

Yes, but let me explain why I also like the internet and social media.

Social media is detrimental when it makes us feel insecure and left out. When we judge our worth by the number of “likes” we get, then we are stuck in perpetual adolescence. How can we grow and thrive when we compare ourselves to the girl with 10,000 Twitter followers? And how can we develop our own voice when we’re being bombarded by manipulative adds and so called “opinion makers”?

If you step back from the desire for popularity, social media becomes a powerful tool for self expression and ideas. Look at the Arab Spring. So much of that movement was fueled by tweets. Facebook is filled with artists and writers who have fascinating things to say. There are thousands of blogs that share stories of hope, inspiration, creativity, and information. When social media is used as a way to express ideas and a place to connect with other people, it becomes beautiful.

I live in a rural community far from many of my closest friends. My child is medically fragile and deals with disabilities, so we are cut off from the typical activities most families get to do. Because of social media, I feel closer to my friends and I have met wonderful families all over the world who deal with the same issues my child copes with. There have been terrible nights when fear and sadness overwhelm me and I have reached out through Facebook for support. Even at midnight, there is always someone there to help. Loneliness is lessoned. I’m grateful for that.

Also, I met the newest Medusa’s Muse author, Shannon Drury, through blogging. We published a book together and are now marketing that book together, even though we’ve never actually met in person. Without social media, The Radical Housewife wouldn’t have been published.

That’s the key. Making and sustaining relationships. When the internet is used to connect people and ideas it’s magic. When it is used only to sell things and gain popularity, it’s noise.

That being said, it is awful nice when someone buys my books. Thank you.

How does the internet help you? What can we do to make social media empowering and less popularity driven?

The internet has trapped us all in perpetual adolescence

Can anyone really explain the point of all this online chatter? I know we are here sharing our thoughts and ideas, but to what end? To sell books? Show off? Share wisdom? Or are we all just shouting “look at me, look at me” over and over like a desperate teenager?

Lately, I’ve been questioning the need for social media. There is so much competition for “follows” and “likes” it makes me feel like I’m back in high school. I’m the dweeb in the back of the room (which is what I was at 15) desperately wishing I had what the cool kids had. What was the secret? Clothes? Money? Beauty? Here I am, all grown up and wondering why more people on Twitter don’t think I’m clever.

The internet has trapped us all in perpetual adolescence.

What’s the answer? To sell books, I need social media. How else will anyone discover my authors or my own writing? Without a big marketing budget I rely on word of mouth, especially internet word of mouth. But now we’re back to a popularity contest. The more followers I have, the more people hear about the books I publish through Medusa’s Muse. The more I talk about my classes, the more people sign up for them. I’m back to age 16 hoping someone asks me to the Spring dance.

With so much constant chatter I wonder if anyone pays attention to social media anymore.   Advertisers have discovered people ignore their pop up adds now because we’ve become immune to them. There are too many people trying to sell too much shit all the time.

What’s the answer? Is there any way to win this popularity contest?