The best movie I never made

Physician performing a physical exam on a newb...Image via Wikipedia

The seniors each year create a slideshow. Well, we call it a slideshow, but it is not – it is actually a very fancy DVD with mixed music, special effects, and a tribute to each senior that lasts 45 minutes. 

This year's digital filmmaking class put it together along with many of the seniors not in the class.  Usually, I have to do a lot with the slide show.  This year, I was really just a technical advisor.

At first, I didn't know what to think.  Will they get it done? Will it be good? Will they try to slip anything inappropriate in? (I screen the full show as does the headmaster 3 days before, but if this happens the re-editing process can be stressful.) Will everyone be included and the final outcome be fair?

These are all the questions I asked.

But eventually, I found myself asking

“Don't they need me?”

And in true teacher form, eventually, I answered myself. 

“No, Vicki, they do not. You have taught them and now they can do this. They can figure it out.”

They had never made a DVD menu, I thought at least I'd do that. Well, I pointed them in the right direction and started it and Mitch (the project manager) took over and finished. They rendered it themselves.  THEY DID IT.

After the show was over, one of the teachers said, “Good job.”  I told her that I didn't do the show, I just took care of the computer during the show.  Later, she came to me and said the kindest thing,

“You do know that although you didn't MAKE the movie that you MADE IT POSSIBLE.”

Teachers Are Possibility Makers
And that, is my take away.  Teachers are possibility makers.  We teach students to use technology (or whatever our subject) and problem solve. We teach them to confidently create and be responsible for the outcome. And eventually, they graduate and no longer need us to look over their shoulder – they are ready to fly.

And that, my friend is the greatest compliment of a teacher.  If, on the last day, you know that your students have mastered the topic and THEY DON'T NEED YOU anymore and are able to accomplish the task; you haven't rendered yourself obsolete because there is always a new class of students who will need your teaching ability but indeed, you have truly taught. 

You have been a teacher.

Then why does it hurt?  
Well, letting go hurts. Birthing your child hurts. Sending your child into the world hurts.  And yet, the beauty of a newborn baby, a graduating senior who has their act together, a child who has their act together and is ready to face the world – these are hopeful and beautiful things as well.

A fetus HAS to be born or it will threaten the life of the child AND the mother. And truly, seniors must graduate and move into the world… it is their time.  Likewise, eventually, if you have done your job, your students may revere and appreciate you but they won't NEED you.  They will be able to do it.  This is a good thing and is the circle of life.

So, I shall sit back and reminisce.  That was a good movie – as awe inspiring as Gone With the Wind and as tear-jerking as Beaches to me.  It was especially good because I know the sacrifice that those students made to create the movie. It was theirs. They did it. They worked very hard on it. I was a bystander but one who very proudly looked at their work and nodded knowing that indeed it is the product of a well-crafted and delivered technology program that continues to be my baby.

Au Revoir. Farewell.  “Bye y'all.”  I'm proud of you!

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Errin May 24, 2010 - 10:33 pm

I like what you’re saying here. I love that hopeless feeling of ‘nobody needs me, they’re all working’ that I often get when I look around my room because I know at that moment my students are independent learners taking control of their learning in my classroom.

Sometimes I think teachers are too present, and at times even in the way, of students’ learning. It’s difficult at times to back off and trust that the students are fine on their own, but I think it’s an important aspect of successful teaching.

Martin June 3, 2010 - 12:28 am

I feel you on this, Vicki. My Year 13 students just submitted their final compositions with very little help from me… another job well done, but also another group of special people that will be missed!

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere