Lights, Camera, Cringe – How do we teach bravery?

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In last weeks skills class (focused on videoing and editing skills) I learnt a lot. In just one class we threw together a musical performance, set up all the cameras and mics and watched the tutor go through the editing process on screenflow (which unfortunately is a Mac only program). We were told the secret to making a video look professional is to have at least two differently framed shots, which when I thought about was a mostly true statement perhaps with the exception of the YouTube vlogging concept. However the experience of singing on camera and then having that first rough take edited on the big screen in front of the class taught me that I still am not immune to that “I wish the floor would swallow me up” cringey embarrassment.

I don’t often have the opportunity to watch myself in HD with excessive close ups (shout out to Flo for the extreme zooms). The fun I was having in class was marred a touch by how bad I felt I looked on camera. I know that no one in my class was laughing at me, rather with me. I was laughing too at my crazy facials. But I did feel really embarrassed seeing myself on screen. I also can’t really remember if I was pleased with how my voice sounded. My appearance was the first thing I focused on. And because it wasn’t perfect I learnt less because of it.

Then last night I found this Ted talk by Reshma Saujani the founder of Girls Who Code, and it made me think about this experience in relation to my teaching.

 

I have shared this video and experience because it has made me reflect upon the other important job I have a teacher, not just teaching music, but modelling how to be a “grown up”. I do believe that as a teacher I have a responsibility to be encouraging high self esteem.  This is particularly relevant to my life right now as I am going into a girls school for my prac placement this semester. I want my students to feel comfortable sharing their music with their peers, live and recorded. I don’t want them to have the same trigger reaction I did. Because that trigger reaction gets in the way of bravery. Making music, sharing music and exploring ways of doing that outside of your comfort zone takes bravery. For some students singing or playing in front of their peers is terrifying. For others composing is their percieved stumbling block. For me, and probably for many other girls, having to use technology and feeling like there is a risk of coming across as stupid for not knowing how it works is a big deal. I hope that I can encourage bravery over perfection in my class of young ladies this semester.

My favorite place to read interesting articles about inspiring women, empowering and teaching young girls and strategies for making the world a better more equal place is Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls Facebook Page and I would encourage everyone to check them out and follow them.

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3 thoughts on “Lights, Camera, Cringe – How do we teach bravery?

  1. Pingback: Coding Music? – Personal technology project | ambermaree music

  2. I really like what you identified in yourself here, and how you would like to change that for the students you teach. I think we should be careful of making self-esteem just an issue for girls though. It may be more of an issue in some because of society’s sexism, but we want to make sure we continue to encourage this bravery in our boys as well. Do you have any ideas on how you would approach this activity so that students didn’t experience or weren’t limited by those feelings of embarrassment?

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    • Hey Michelle, Thanks for the comment. Self esteem is definitely not an issue for girls only, unfortunately it is a part of every humans experience. I simply focused on the female perspective as it is mine and was applicable to the prac situation I was going into. Being on the other side of that prac experience I can’t really say I found any quick fix answers. However modelling has become quite important to my teaching. So perhaps if this was one of the first few times this activity was set I would show a video of me doing the task or introducing/explaining it. To encourage a safe learning environment I would use highly structured feedback strategies at first to create a “template” for appropriate questioning and feedback in future tasks.

      Also a quick spiel at the start letting your students know that “yes it is hard to watch ourselves on camera, everyone feels that way, even big movie stars, I felt this way when…” etc can’t go astray either. No need to make it a big deal, but there is also a lot to be said for not pretending that insecurities don’t exist. Modelling in teaching should stretch to more than just the musical content, empathy, bravery and positivity can and should also be modeled to contribute to a learning environment students can thrive in.

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