Emmet Rosenfeld is a veteran English teacher at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia. In his blog Certifiable? on teachermagazine.orghe is chronicling his quest for certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. In the following excerpt, he writes about his initial attempt to videotape himself for his certification portfolio.
I talk a lot. That’s one thing I realized when I watched the video of myself leading a classroom discussion on James Michener’s novel Chesapeake this week. At least, I talk a lot louder and clearer than any student in the room. Years of projecting my voice over noisy groups of kids seems to have left me with a positively operatic larynx.
This does not bode well for videotaping. The class discussion itself was fairly balanced, really. The students’ comments, as usual with these gifted young people, were often perceptive. But you could only hear about a third of what they said. The impression a viewer of the tape is left with, I’m afraid, is that I’m basically conversing with myself.
Next time, I guess the microphone, which I had hung from a ceiling panel, needs to go farther from me and somehow closer to them. Or maybe I need to get a different kind of mic—one that picks up sound from all directions better than the one the school library gave me.
One moment that the videotape did not capture came about three quarters of the way through the period, when my techno-wiz helper spoke up in the middle of a heated debate about the destruction of a character named Tciblento, who is reduced to silence and misery at the hands of a series of despicable men.
“Mr. R.,” he called out, eagerly waving his hand.
“Yes, Andrew,” I said, excited that a kid normally more interested in how to work the SMARTboard was ready to share an opinion about literary pathos.
“Is that little red light on the camera over there supposed to be on right now? ‘Cause it’s not.”
Read more of Emmet Rosenfeld’s blog.
A version of this article appeared in the January 01, 2007 edition of Teacher