Teaching Opinion

Deep Thoughts From the Dashboard, a Reflection Revelation

By Starr Sackstein — March 24, 2019 3 min read
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A few years ago, when I was routinely being locked out of my school building for arriving too early in the mornings, I thought it would be a good idea to use the time to reflect and connect with my PLN on Twitter using the then-new Periscope, live-streaming app.

Full disclosure here, I’m not a poised, comfortable in front of the camera kind of woman. I’m a shy, completely introverted, lover of social media because of how well I can articulate my ideas in writing. But since I was always writing about pushing people outside of their comfort zones, I took a risk and started working outside of my own.

At first, I thought, “Who is even up at 6 a.m. to watch me for a short video?” This notion that no one would watch gave me the courage to just do it. And so one day, I just did.

And like the blog, at first, there were few who watched, but the more I did it, the more people got involved. At some point, one of my Twitter PLN told me how much they enjoyed my in-car reflections in the morning. I figured if it was helping people and getting them thinking, how could it be bad?

Of course, being a person who is more comfortable with words, I tried to put any insecurities and self-consciousness on the side and just spoke from my heart and mind and before I knew it other people started to do the same.

What I learned from my “Deep Thoughts From the Dashboard” experience is that people really do connect with authenticity. Even though I was hung up on my snaggle tooth or how many times I repeat myself, the message resonated for people. They didn’t judge me as much as I was judging myself. They embraced my method and gave me credit for being honest, open, and brave.

As human beings and educators, we have such an opportunity to share so much of ourselves and sometimes in the classroom or in leadership we feel we have to be guarded. And in some situations, we do have to be. But in a few magical moments when we can speak honestly without fear of retribution as it is our truths we speak, the more chances we have to connect with each other on a much deeper level. I suspect that is why many people who meet me for the first time feel like they know me.

Those early-morning reflections and my blog posts aren’t just about teaching or leading, they are about life and the ability to balance them all. Sometimes there is an overlap, and we don’t bring the best version of ourselves to our work, marriage, parenting, etc., and some of us punish ourselves relentlessly for it.

This doesn’t help us get better, it shames us, which only makes situations worse. So let’s all try a little harder to share who we really are and be as honest as we are comfortable with, let our walls down, and start working together to overcome some of the challenges we all face alone.

Although being our true selves can be scary, it can also be extremely freeing. Are you up for the challenge?

Here are some quick tips:

  • Try to find a relatively quiet place to record.
  • If you don’t have a steady hand, don’t hold the phone, put it up against something instead, or like me, it will look like you’re filming another Blair Witch movie.
  • Have an idea of what you want to talk about, but don’t script it. Speak from your heart. Sometimes I wander a bit, so it’s better to keep the videos to one topic if you can, but it is also OK if you don’t.
  • Title your Periscope or Capture or video appropriately for what you are talking about. You’ll get more replays if what you share is what you say you’re sharing.
  • If people log on while you’re online, give a shout out and engage.
  • Be mindful of the time. Keep it short! The sweet spoke is like 2-5 minutes. I’ve broken this rule, too, but as a general rule, shorter is better.
  • Don’t be afraid to break all of the rules when it suits (and only you will know when that is).
  • If you want to keep all of your videos, you can upload them to YouTube, especially if you’re using Capture instead of Periscope. Keeping a YouTube channel of all of your musings is a great way to see how far you’ve come and sometimes (when you can get distance) have a good laugh at yourself.

If you’re up for it, shoot a short video of yourself either on Periscope or Twitter and share the link below. It’s good to meet you all.

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