Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Giraffe Cam

I'll confess: I am obsessed with the live stream of April the giraffe, beamed live from the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, NY. She is a media sensation. For those of you who have not heard about it, April is a giraffe that is on the verge of giving birth to a baby calf. She has viewers all over the world anxiously awaiting "the moment". Given the length of gestation (15 months or so) and other unknowns, the animal keepers and vet are not able to predict a due date. In addition, labor is only confirmed when the calf's hooves begin to appear. I told you I was obsessed. Thank goodness I am on vacation this week, and can afford to be sleep deprived.

As I watch April pace her space and watch for any tell-tale signs like the amateur vet I've become, it strikes me how incredible a live stream out of a classroom might be. Like the giraffe cam, there might be things you see and don't understand, and there are also routines that you pick up on quickly. April never really mugs for the camera unless there is a carrot or piece of lettuce in it for her, and I suspect students and teachers would quickly forget the cam in the corner.

Just like we are all watching and waiting for the big event, never knowing when it might appear, how might that also be true watching a classroom? Many times the "lightbulb" or "flow" moments occur in a classroom when we least expect it. As teachers, we plan for those moments, but just like April's vet, our ability to predict the actual timing is speculative at best. 

In addition, just like I've learned more about giraffes in the last few weeks than I ever thought I would, how much might non-educators learn if they could just put on the live stream of a classroom at random times during a day? How might we draw back the curtain on teaching and learning for millions of people across the globe?

Certainly, it would take a brave teacher and willing students to make it a reality. There are times I see April do things that I wish I could wipe from my mind's eye (chewing her cud in a regurgitative cycle quickly comes to mind). Not everything that happens in a classroom is pretty, and it is certainly not perfect. However, the moments when everything is clicking and learning is in the "flow" are pure joy to watch and experience, and people outside of education rarely get to see that.

You might think everyone will stop watching April once the birth occurs. I don't think so. First, we'll have 6-12 months to watch her with her calf. Second, I believe it has created an awareness and appreciation for learning new things in real time. Yes, there are people who watch and make less than positive comments. And we already have that in education; but how might a live classroom cam help educate those who don't yet have a full understanding of what happens in a classroom day in and day out? We will never get rid of all of our critics, but we can build more allies.

Join the conversation...
How might we build a brave space in one classroom to install a teaching and learning cam? 

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