In addition to my eTown Videos responsibilities, I recently completed teaching a video production and editing course at a regional training center in Western Massachusetts.
I certainly could not have predicted the rich experience teaching video production concepts to digital media students would bring.
After several weeks of preparing lesson plans and reviewing curriculums and syllabi it was finally time to step in front of a classroom filled with aspiring filmmakers, graphic design artists and digital gaming animators. I have to admit, my nerves weren’t completely at ease despite all my preparation efforts. While I have been involved with training and teaching video editing over the years, making sales presentations, or speaking in front of groups of people, this was the first time that I have had an opportunity to teach in a formal classroom setting. Naturally, whenever you step out of your comfort zone, particularly with anything that has to do with public speaking, the butterflies in your stomach go a little wild.
However, just 10 or 15 minutes after I started my first lesson, I began to feel quite at home and the words seemed to flow rather effortlessly – I even got a couple of laughs after my attempts at humor. As I asked each student to introduce himself or herself, it was a real delight to hear them describe the type of career they envisioned. At the same time, they also appeared to realize that they are in a field of study that is changing quickly and requires a lot of effort and constant adaptation to new digital tool sets.
The time I spent inside the classroom with the students who want to work with and learn the art of video production or similar disciplines in digital media is the part of teaching that is inspiring and at times humbling.
It was interesting to learn which lessons were of particular curiosity for the students especially during final project assignments. Some would certainly go above and beyond what was expected and work on perfecting a particular skill till the early morning hours – after they returned from their after school jobs – to master a new special effects skill and complete their homework. Some of these concepts are difficult and I really appreciated the effort that was put forth by the students to learn.
One of my female students stayed two to three extra hours each day to practice her new skills in the computer lab until she felt certain she understood each new concept and skill. In fact, most students in my class took their studying quite serious while a small set of students required gentle reminders to focus on the class assignments. Attempts by one or two students to take a peek at their Facebook newsfeed had to be thwarted – I was sure they could find time to catch up on their friends’ status updates after class. Students today certainly have very different distractions compared to when I went to school.
Furthermore, it was also refreshing and exiting to observe the creativity that pours out of students in an environment where creativity and imagination is a prerequisite. Whether I asked them to write a script and storyboard, edit a short film, or create a special effect – I got to see it all – beautiful animated paintings, horror film effects, a funny fake newscast, a thriller about a pizza delivery gone wrong, or a funny-scary travel video to Salem, MA.
Most importantly, several of my students shared with me that some of the skills they learned already put them on a path to want to learn even more about video production techniques and concepts. In fact, a few even mentioned that they wish to enter a career in video production and film animation – that’s exciting.
At times, teaching was some of the hardest work I’ve ever done but at other times I felt that it was some of the most fulfilling work I’ve ever been involved with.
I am thankful to each and every student who attended my course over the last few months and I am looking forward to teaching this course again to a new group of students later in the summer.
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