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April 19, 2021

Does This Lesson Make Me Look Fat?

The Big Tent #anewkindofPD

I’m sure that I’m not the only teacher who has had this thought. Hesitant to videotape myself teaching because I was self conscious; afraid that my peer coach would not be able to see past what the morning rain had done to my hair. Worried that I would be judged. Judged on my physical appearance. Judged on my motives for wanting to be videotaped. Judged for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of my teaching or the quality of my soul. At that point, I just had to slap myself a little bit and say, “Get Over It!” Watching a video of yourself teaching is one of the best ways to get an authentic view of you in your classroom. It is an opportunity for true reflection that will make you a more effective teacher, and that’s the only thing that matters! If you’re still in pause mode, here are a few words of advice to help you move forward.

Stop Procrastinating and Just Do It

Just like anything that’s uncomfortable but ultimately good for you, there will be the urge to come up with every reason why you shouldn’t do it. Find a reason TO do it. If you’re having a hard time mustering up the courage, pretend you’re a cowboy from the old West: Bite the bullet and press the record button.

Set Up the Camera and Video Often

You don’t have to video your lessons every day, but get used to having the camera there. Soon, both you and your students will forget that it’s there and you’ll get an authentic look into what goes on in your classroom.

Watch Your Video As If You Were Doing A Close Read

The first time through, look at all of your physicality and idiosyncrasies. See if what you are doing is speaking louder than what you are saying. When I started teaching, I found that I was holding my elbows tightly against my sides, so when I gestured I looked like an awkward tyrannosaurus rex. With effort, I loosened enough to have stiff Barbie arms, and eventually I evolved enough to resemble something that could rejoin human society. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it for myself. Embrace what is good about you, and work to change what is necessary.

The second time through, look at what you are doing; procedures, transitions, student interactions, etc. Is there a flow? Did it look the same way on tape as you thought it did in your mind? Be honest and objective.

The third time ask yourself, “Why did you do what you did? Is there a better way?” This is where the magic happens. True reflection will lead to an improved YOU.


Be confident. What matters most is what you deliver in that classroom every day. Remember YOU are multifaceted and YOU bring something special to the party.

Keep in mind that lessons on the Renaissance will not make you look thinner, nor will a perfectly executed Socratic seminar make you look ten years younger. Don’t pass up the opportunity to improve your practice, and also consider sharing your best practices with others — because the needs of the many outweigh the insecurities of the few.

The bottom line is, that when you’re a great teacher no one really cares what you look like on camera. To be the greatest teacher you can be, you need to be reflective. Video is an incredibly helpful tool for true reflection on your practice. Go ahead and use it to take control of your personal and professional growth. The hardest part is starting, so be brave and go for it!


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