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(If you enjoy this article, check out how districts are livestreaming graduations.)
Each week, our team in the 21st Century Learning Department produces a show for Facebook Live. Yesterday, we wrapped up our twelfth show. Now ultimately, our goal is to build a hybrid high school within an existing school. This goal presents many challenges, all of which would be too complicated for one blog post, but two of the biggest challenges from my point of view are delivering a freshmen suite of hybrid courses in one year’s time and communicating vision about the hybrid high school with our partner teachers.
The Live Show Helps People Connect with Our Team
I believe the Live Show has helped us with addressing these challenges. At a minimum, teachers have an extensive reference as to whether or not they want to work with us. One must only navigate to our Open Campus Facebook page to get an idea of who we are. I’ll be the first to admit, our style isn’t for everyone. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the amount of positive feedback. For example, I had three specific people thank me for doing the show where we discussed grading. Each had a similar story, they identified with “grade identity,” as they put unnecessary pressure on themselves to become an “A” student.
The Live Show Extends our Reach
The Live Show has opened up doors. We tried to come up with a strategy to visit schools and partner with teachers, but frankly, the Live Show turned out to be further reaching. Without the Live Show, our Team 21C blog, and the Open Campus Podcast, there is little to no frame of reference as to who we are. It is so much easier to talk to someone when they feel like they already know you. The Live Show gives people access to you that you would have likely never reached on a school visit.
The Live Show Engages Me in the Work
Another component of producing the Live Show is not only identifying the passions of teachers, but honestly and perhaps selfishly, working right in the center of my own passion. You see, I’ve been making videos since elementary school. (If I could only get my hands on some of those now!) Simply put, producing the Live Show is so much fun, and because of that, I’m completely engaged with identifying, communicating, and connecting with partner teachers. All of this to say, Wes Kriesel, the leader of Team 21C, knows me and respects my passion. He knows that I will be freaky, crazy determined to deliver the show, but it doesn’t end with me; Wes is committed to leveraging each of our partner teachers’ passions. He believes that the district’s best bet is to allow you to work within your passion, and I can vouch for that. And oh, if that doesn’t seem to make sense, check out Live Show #10; it’s very different from any other show we’ve done, but Wes does a great job communicating this idea to our partner teachers.
The Live Show Lends Itself Well to Reflection
The Live Show gives us something tangible to reflect on. We constantly scrutinize what seems to be working and that which does not seem to be working. The best example of this is partnering with Daniel Allen (a former guest on the Live Show) and Neri to produce a show in Spanish for parents, Santa Ana ¡En Vivo! The one show we’ve done so for has 1,600 views, which is many more views that we’ve had in our any of our twelve shows. This gives us some fuel for reflection. For example, how can we include parents in the hybrid discussion? Should we modify our show to not only target teachers, but include parents as well? Should the show be done in both English and Spanish, or should we use subtitles? I don’t know the answer to these questions, but it’s certainly something worthy of reflection. Also, when you share your work on social media, you would be wise to use the analytics to reflect on that work. Who are you reaching? When are you reaching them? We’ve been able to inform our decisions about the Live Show based on those analytics. To offer one more example, our Team 21C blog analytics identified Thursday nights at 9:00 p.m. as our highest traffic time. For some reason, people engaged with our content the most at this time. Therefore, we adjusted the time of our Live Show from 3:30 p.m. on Fridays to Thursday nights at 8:30 p.m. See, it’s not just about doing a show, it’s about reaching out for the help we need to build a hybrid school within a school, and we have to do all we can to reach out. Reflecting on this data is crucial to maximizing the potential impact.
The Live Show Provides Regular Feedback
Furthermore, feedback goes beyond analytics. It’s nice to actually hear what people are saying about your work, both the good and the bad. Here’s the bottom line, a weekly Live Show gives us a system to receive regular feedback. People tell us what they think of the show. Even better than that, because the show is on Facebook Live, people are able to comment during and after the show. We as a team are committed to being receptive to the feedback we receive. We understand, that if we don’t listen to what our viewers say, then we will not only lose our viewers, but we will lose our ability to effectively partner with teachers via the Live Show. Thus, we are passionate about applying the feedback we receive to improve our work.
The Live Show, Good or Bad, Is Public
Finally, the Live Show is public. It’s out there. It doesn’t need to be redone, it simply is what it is, good or bad. I’m aware much of the work we put out there isn’t what might be considered good. However, sometimes it works out, and I’m proud. I’m getting comfortable with what I might have considered unproductive or bad work. The thing is, when you put your work out there, you tend to take more pride and make more effort. The bad moments, really, aren’t so bad; they are opportunities to learn, and that’s never a bad thing.
I’m confident we will have successfully built a hybrid school within a school by next year. I’ve never been a part of something like this before. It’s project based learning, and I didn’t even know it. I’ll see you on the Live Show! Please tune in and let us know what you think.