Using Videos in the Classroom

I’ve always been hesitant about using videos in the classroom. It is probably due to the fact that when I was a student, I correlated teaching that involved rolling in that large TV with the bulky VCR as break time. I felt that it was just as much of my subjective understanding as it was theirs. This was especially true if the movie was not accompanied with a worksheet. Even though my elementary students are now in school two decades after I’ve moved on, I still feel that they feel that same inclination.

But today, videos have the potential to be more instrumental than ever before. Shoot, at times I feel like YouTube can teach my students certain lessons better than I can! Regardless of the content communicated through that projector, I still feel like I am not doing my job to the best of my abilities whenever my principal walks in and I am playing a video.

I know I should probably hang up that resignation. That is because videos in the classroom, if used correctly, provide students with an opportunity to engage with material in ways that myself, as the teacher, may be incapable of providing them. And I am okay with saying that. We know that all students learn differently. Nonetheless, it surprises me when I turn on a film, sit back, and observe how certain students engage with it. Maybe because it reminds them of something so valuable to their life, the television, they pay extra attention to the visual and oral communication.

Or maybe it is because we have reached a certain level in this technological age where video has firmly grasped its place as one of the most prominent markers of passing on information. What adult has not used a video to figure out how to fix something in or around their house? Or simply to get an answer to an itching question? Video, unlike ever before, is the new mode of communicating an understanding. Teachers are rarely “rolling in the cart” simply to take an hour off of teaching. Teachers, now more than ever, are using videos to actually teach. The multitude of information on video alone makes it seem absurd that a teacher would not use video in her program in order to teach to the curriculum. Simply put, we should not feel that we are not doing our job simply because we use a video in the class to demonstrate or deepen an understanding that we are attempting to instill.

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Matthew R. Morris

Educator, Speaker, Writer

Matthew R. Morris is a writer, speaker, and elementary educator in Toronto. He has an M.A. in Social Justice Education from OISE at the University of Toronto and is the author of the forthcoming book, Black Boys Like Me. 

Matthew R. Morris

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