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Published
Nov 10, 2021

Using Video to Teach Students Self-Agency

Kathy Pease
Program Partnerships at Skillsline

In an increasing number of states, students are expected to leave school with proficiency in academic and technical skills as well as abstract, nontechnical “soft” skills.  These essential “soft” skills reflect how work gets done, and employers across every industry report them as necessary for workplace success. 

However, states are now mandating the teaching of these skills without providing the resources needed to teach them. 

It is difficult to find the curriculum and time to provide students with these essential skills and fulfill state mandates. Audio and visual tools can effectively support both the teacher and the student in this learning process.  

Here are five of the essential skills that support self-agency and ideas to teach them by utilizing technology such as screencasting 💻.


1. ‘Want to be happy? Stop trying to be perfect.’ - Brene Brown

Accept imperfection — we all have flaws. By accepting our imperfections as opportunities for learning, we can build compassion and self-acceptance.  

Activity: Students can demonstrate the acceptance of their perceived flaw by sharing it with others through video. The content could include the fault with the learning opportunity it provided to the student. The student should choose how they want to present the flaw and with whom they would like to share it. It is essential to have it be a video to create a vulnerable situation for the student. They choose the content, the structure, and the audience. These choices provide a safe place to take a risk.


2. Are expectations of yourself and others getting in your way? 🤔

Check your expectations. Sometimes, we have unrealistic expectations for ourselves and others. These expectations can be detrimental to accomplishing our work and our overall goals. Therefore, it is essential to think about what you or your team can do to attain the desired result.  

Activity: The students can demonstrate their understanding of realistic expectations by presenting the expectations for the class to their peers. It can be done in collaboration with peers or individually. The presentation should include the expectations and why they are realistic and achievable. Audio or video tools can get it done.

Learn more: See how games make powerful social-emotional learning tools in this episode of EdTech Heroes👇

3. Better understand people and build stronger relationships with empathy!

Express empathy. Empathy is a skill used to understand what someone is feeling, their point of view, and acknowledging their emotions. Empathy builds connections with others. When someone knows you are trying to understand them, they are more likely to cooperate and collaborate with you.

Activity: The students will record themselves role paying their response to the following scenario: You see someone with their mouth open, stuttering and trying to catch a breath. Role play with a partner what the cause might be for the physical manner in which they express emotion. Continue to record what your response might be

4. Stress can be overwhelming. It can also be energizing! 💡

Find your optimal stress. Understanding how stress works allows you to manage it effectively. High levels of stress can cause physical ailments, including headaches. Low levels of stress can create a lack of interest or motivation to complete a project. Therefore, it is important to recognize your stress level and learn to manage it to your optimal level to be healthy and productive.

Activity: The students will record in a documentary format he effect of stress on themselves. How do they know when they are stressed? How does it feel? How has that feeling helped them accomplish something? A test? An activity? Does a project have to be completed? How did they manage it?

5. What motivates you?

Discover your motivators. There are two kinds of motivators. First, we can be motivated by being given an award. These extrinsic motivators can help meet a larger goal by small incremental goals. Second, intrinsic motivators are more internal. For example, it can motivate us to work on a passion project or complete it and feel satisfied. Both types of motivators are helpful to achieve goals. However, intrinsic motivators tend to help on a long-term basis.

Activity: The students will interview (audio or video) a family member or peer to discover the daily activities that they may dread. Emptying dishwasher? Exercising? Together, they will choose one and work to find an intrinsic and an extrinsic way to motivate them to complete the activity.

Student understanding and reflection 🙋

Self-agency is a fundamental driver of action towards individual and collective economic growth, prosperity, and, ultimately, equity. However, to believe that taking action will result in intended and desired outcomes, students need time to understand themselves and reflect upon their beliefs and mindsets. Providing the time and tools to help students develop a feeling/sense/belief of ownership over their actions and consequences is the first step toward empowering students to formulate actionable plans to achieve their educational, career, and life goals. 

Would you like to learn more about teaching these essentials skills and more? Whether you develop your lessons or implement a comprehensive program like Skillsline, you will benefit your students throughout their lives by providing them with a foundation of the skills essential to thrive in school, career, and life. Skillsline offers an open educational resource that can help you jumpstart your program with guided discussions that help students understand and then exercise self-agency.

Visit Skillsline.co for more information.

Bring video to your classroom with Screencastify.


Kathy Pease
Program Partnerships at Skillsline

Kathy Pease leads program partnerships for Skillsline. Kathy has dedicated her time as an educator fighting to make sure the skills being taught in public schools go beyond just academic studies, so that students have a better chance of competing in a global economy.