A Different Gift

July 30, 2017

 

I was checking my Twitter feed yesterday intent on catching up on a few of my favorite educational blogs. I'm usually pretty efficient at scrolling through my feed, but decided to take the time to explore a link that didn't seem to relate to education (at the time). The link contained a couple unbelievable videos from a Sports Illustrated article. What initially caught my attention was the impossible headline:

 

Remember the kid whose dad surprised him with a bat? He hit a homer with it and his dad caught it.

 

"How is that even possible," I wondered.

 

The first video (above) shows the son walking to a mini-van before a baseball game thinking his dad forgot his birthday. Suddenly, his dad encouraged him to grab his gear from the trunk of the van. That's about the moment I started tearing up. (My dad passed away suddenly several years ago, so seeing these two interact cut right to my core.)

 

The second video (below) shows footage of the son a year or so later. It's really an unbelievable must-watch.

 

 

The power of video in sharing this story is irrefutable. It moved me from disbelief to developing an emotional connection to the story. You may be thinking that cell phone videos are a dime a dozen and capturing footage of something this special is more serendipitous than anything else. On a certain level, I'd agree with you. However, I also see family videos as more than an heirloom or sentimental gift.

 

What if we viewed the creation of compelling video content as a skill instead of a gift or stroke of luck? I think it's entirely possible that tapping into the power of video could open doors to students that would otherwise be closed if we don't help them develop this skill. In other words, when we choose not to integrate digital content creation into the curriculum we limit student opportunity and learning.

 

I'm speaking more to myself here than anyone else (thanks for the opportunity to reflect openly). We relegate teaching and leadership practices to written text (e.g. headlines, e-mails, memos, and book reports) when we should also be empowering our staff and students with skills to communicate their ideas using other media (e.g. blogs, video, and using social media as "learning media"). I'm not suggesting that written communication is inferior to video; I believe cultivating both skills to be important.

 

It's possible to teach students at a high level while empowering them to learn content through a cutting-edge pedagogy. This starts with modeling and it will also include early failures, iteration, and a release of control. In other words,

 

  • Kids should see school leaders immersed in a variety of relevant learning and content creation (including video).

 

  • Kids need role models in all areas of their lives, including digital-content creation and sharing.

 

  • Kids should be taught how to create and record video content in an ethical manner.

 

  • Kids should practice learning and leading using video and other digital media.

 

  • Kids have the potential to change the world, and we should not be holding back some of the important tools they could use to realize meaningful change.

 

I firmly believe it starts with us. It starts with our learning. Best practice absent relevant tools and pedagogy is no gift at all.

 

 

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Dr. Brad Gustafson is an elementary principal, author, and speaker. He believes schools can be spaces where creativity and innovation thrive, but only when we prioritize relationships and a relevant, connected pedagogy. 

 

Connect on email at:

AdjustingCourse@gmail.com

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