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Nov 17, 2022

Going from Survival to Creation Mode with EdTech

Screencastify Squad

Educational systems have embraced innovation and used various tools to keep working -- and have done so more so than ever the past few years. At times there were fears about meeting students’ needs via digital platforms and solutions. However, rather than being a temporary solution, tools such as video have become a permanent fixture in classrooms. 

And as teachers learn to use, they’ve come to understand that no one expects them to be perfect, especially when creating videos. Emily Breakfield, the instructional technology specialist at Harlem Consolidated School District #122, joins EdTech Heroes to explain how she approaches video creation to help teachers, the types of videos teachers create for students, and how students can use them and keep track of their progress. 


👋 Name: Emily Breakfield

👩‍💻What she does: Emily is the instructional technology specialist at Harlem Consolidated School District #122

🏫District: Harlem Consolidated School District #122

✍️ Noteworthy: Emily is a passionate advocate for the use of video in education. She helps teachers embrace technology and use it to not only improve their classroom performance but also develop professionally.

📱Where to find Emily: LinkedIn | Twitter

Key insights

During the pandemic, teachers saw technology as a necessary evil, but today, it is helping them thrive. Although many believed that technology, especially video, was a temporary solution, as time passed, it became clear that it is here to stay. Luckily, more and more teachers are embracing it as they see positive results. 

''We were in survival mode. I feel like now we're in that creation mode where we're able to take what we've learned in survival mode and start using technology in more meaningful ways to push education forward in a positive way.''

Video contributes to self-paced learning that benefits both students and teachers. So, leveraging technology in the classroom also helps teachers grow professionally and at their own pace. 

''I have enjoyed taking what I did as a teacher in my classroom for my students and then trying to make sure that I'm doing the same thing for my teachers. They're adult learners, and my expectation for how I deliver things is the same.

So I try to make sure that they can start and stop a video or speed it up. [...] Something I found very important as a teacher is that I want to be meeting all of my students where they are, making sure that I am cognizant of their time because, specifically with teachers, we don't have a lot. And if they're giving their time, I want to make sure it's worth it.''

Tools like Screencastify help us gather data and see what to focus on. Aside from sharing the benefits of creating videos for students and teachers, Emily discusses the feedback collected from teacher-parent interactions. As a result, teachers are better positioned to work through their curriculum. 

''If you're a teacher and you're maybe putting up multiple explanations of a lesson, and there are specific parts that you've broken it into, and you're noticing that one of those videos is getting a bunch of views, then maybe it's like, 'Okay, maybe I need to reteach this.' If they are being viewed a lot, it means they understand this concept, skill, or strategy I've taught them. 

Often, we're teaching them multiple strategies for the same standard. So being able to have that analytics and data to go back and see, 'Okay, maybe this is what I need to reteach.'''

Related episode

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Episode highlights

Video makes the job easier and more effective 🎬

''I couldn't do my job without Screencastify and video. I use it in so many different capacities throughout my day. It could be as simple as getting an emergency email from a teacher. I have six buildings where I help with instructional technology; so in some cases, I can't be in that teacher's classroom.

So I get these SOSs, and I can make a quick video using Screencastify and send it over, as opposed to typing a long email with convoluted steps they don't understand. And so I can do a quick visual and send it off. It's a super-easy link. Our entire staff knows how to use Screencastify and watch the videos.''

Helps students understand lessons but also share ideas with others 💡

''It was cool to have conversations with teachers, like, 'I saw you're making hundreds of videos. How are you using this?' 

Many of them [...] take a video or an explanation of a lesson, and then they would put it onto Google Classroom for students to be able to return to if they're doing homework at home. And so they're using it to stretch out that learning. So, it's not just that the teacher gives a lesson, and then it's over. It is a way to go back to it, revisit it, and review it when it’s time for tests. 

We have had teachers who look to explain things to other teachers. So they were creating something like, 'Hey, I did this in my classroom, and this is how I did it.' We're a large district,  but a lot of times, [...] you hear about a great idea, but you don't necessarily have time to sit down together. And so they're using it to spread ideas and explain things to each other.''

Let students to show what they've learned and see progress 📈

''Going back to when I was a teacher and my beliefs in being a teacher. It was important to hear from every student, and that's not necessarily feasible when you're in a classroom with 20 kids — sometimes even more, if you're in secondary school. 

And so being able to have students use video, you can hear from everyone because it may take the pressure off the student who has social anxiety and doesn't like to speak up in class or the one who's afraid that they are going to answer wrong and everyone's going to laugh at them. [...]

So it's powerful. Being able to have students not only create it for others to see, but we had students who were using it for fluency. So they were recording themselves reading every week. So to be able to go back and see the progress they had made over those weeks was amazing and empowering to those students.''

Highly quotable

[06:40] ''Technology can be intimidating; it's scary to try. And so being able to watch something on a video that was created by someone whom you trust and believe in, I think, has made my job so much easier. And I'm such a visual person. I automatically lean towards video because I need to see how things work or see what is expected of me so I can start moving forward.''

[25:38] ''One of the things that I always talk about when talking about video in all aspects — teachers making videos for teachers, teachers making videos for students, students making videos — is that they don't have to be flawless. They don't have to be perfect. [...] It's good to leave in those mistakes or those ‘ums’ or jokes or comments you make because it humanizes you.''

[30:53] ''We're asking art students all the time to be vulnerable. We're asking them to try things. We're asking them to have grit and to be willing to fail and learn from that failure. And so, as teachers, we have to do the same thing. And I think it's good to show that vulnerability to your students too. I think it's a way you can gain respect from them, and they may be more willing to do things for you if you're showing that you're willing to do it too.''

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