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3 Tips for a Teacher's Video Background at Home

Jun 23, 2020

Let's get back to the step-by-step, practical, take-action tips that we teachers so LOVE... is that alright?


This week, I'd like to focus on a very sure reality that is shifting for teachers, and that is making video for our classrooms.

Here's the thing, no matter if we go back to a traditional setting, a hybrid model, or fully online next year, we teachers need to be ready for any of those setups to change one a DIME!  As a mother, I am predicting that although my sons' school will start normal next year, entire buildings will be shut down WHEN one student or staff member tests positive.  I just don't see how to avoid it.

Please know that I'm not saying that to invoke panic amongst teachers (or mothers for that matter).  I offer up my prediction as a way to get ourselves prepared (both as teachers and parents, by the way).   Prepared for what, you might ask... prepared to be flexible in an every changing educational setting so that it's not over strenuous on us or our students.

Let's set up systems that allow us to survive and thrive in the alternating settings, making our classrooms the consistent presence for our students, and a sustainable, functioning, educational machine evidenced by our technological and pedagogical prowess... sound good?

Get flexible

So, how do we go about getting flexible?  You've GOT to start flipping now.

When I say flipping, I simply mean putting your direct instruction (lecture, whatever you want to call it) into video form.  There are so many quick and easy tools (and free) to use out there that making videos over your slides or your demonstration is a no-brainer.

And, YES, you should be in the videos.  Even if only for a moment at the beginning and the end to explain to your students what they'll be learning in that video and what they should do during and once they've watched it.  Seeing you is imperative because it allows your students a bit of familiarity they can relate to your in-person classroom.  You HAVE to have that kind of cohesiveness.

Along with making sure you are in the videos you make, I want to offer up three other tips that will help you set up an effective but manageable video recording background.

1. Find a Spot

This is going to be tricky, but I want to challenge you on this to really take some time and think on where in your home you could have a spot that exists as your video backdrop.

Speaking of challenges, make sure you join our 5-Day Flipped Teacher Challenge over in our Flipped Teacher Facebook group (it's already day two).

I know this is a bit challenging because it does require you to use up space, both floor and wall, in your home, but let me explain why.

Recording videos can be exhausting.  Think about how exhausting it is to lecture all day at the beginning of the school year each year... yea, it's like that when you try to batch record (bonus tip!) your videos.

You do NOT want to spend time setting up and tearing down your video recording background.  It's just time that could be spent recording or with your family when recording time is over.

What you'll need:

  1. A corner or small wall space that when you plop your laptop with a webcam on in front of you, the background is a good balance between familiar and simple.
  2. Wall space and/or a table behind you with trinkets and items on it that correspond with the second tip below.
  3. A space for you to comfortable sit (or stand if that's what you'd rather do, depends on your energy levels),
  4. Good lighting - just a window or lamp that is in front of you, not behind you.

2. Own it

Now that you've found your spot, you want to own it.  What does this mean?  It means you want the space to very clearly convey your in-person classroom.  Yes, the one that you would much rather be teaching from - yea, that one.

What does it look like?

Is it a cluttered mess with textbooks everywhere and piles of ungraded papers?  Welp, plop yourself in front of your home library for your video recording backdrop - that will do the trick.  And, hey, no setup required means bonus points.

Or, is it pristinely organized with a farmhouse chic decor straight from your favorite classroom decor Pinterest board?  Woo, get it!  Welp, then just make an extra one of those pretty calendars you bought on TpT and put it up on the wall behind you... yep, the same exact one you have in your classroom.

Remember what we're going for here... familiarity and cohesiveness.  If they see you, and if they see things that aesthetically are very similar to your classroom, then you are right where you need to be.

3. You

Tip number three is all about you.  Hang with me here for a second.

I've recently signed two of my boys up for classes through Outschool.  It's really ingenius what they're doing; making a plethora of online classes available for ALL ages, even your super young ones on all kinds of topics, from world languages, to yoga, to piano and art.  P.S. this is a shameless plug because if you enroll your kid with this link, you'll get a $20 credit and so will I.

Ok, back to the point.  When my son attended his first class, the teacher was energetic, upbeat, using her higher pitch, obviously talking to a young child voice.  She was using lots of facial expressions and hand motions to communicate.  I thought to myself, I could NEVER do that.  I was made to be a high school teacher.  But, this tip is meant to be for ALL teachers, not just one level.

Here's the takeaway... her energy in that class is what MADE the class.  And research backs that up.

Specifically, research done by Richard E. Meyer from the University of California, Santa Barbara.  His research shows the impact of a teachers positive affect on his/her student's learning.  Even a gesture as simple as a smiling face and positive attitude had marked impact on student learning.

You might be thinking, well duh!?!

Yea, it seems so simple right?  Welp, let me tell you, when you're in front of that camera, staring at your slides or working your demonstration, the last thing you're thinking about is smiling and keeping it (overly) positive.  You're focused on the content, as you should be.  But there very much is an almost theatrical component to what we're doing here in building up the asynchronous assets of our classroom. 

You are the MOST important aspect of your videos.  Yes, your content knowledge, but, and maybe even more so, your delivery as well.

So here's my tip.  Pick your song.  You know the one... the one that if you were an olympic athlete, you'd be listening to it as you prepped for your competition.  Yea, that one.

Is it Journey's "Don't Stop Believin"?  Mine is Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance." Don't know what it is about that song, but it gets me up, dancing, and singing ev-er-y time!  And that's what it's all about.  Get your blood flowing, get your positive thoughts going, and your authentic smile ready to go.

And there you have it.  Three straight forward, take-action steps to a simple, and effective, yet manageable video background for teachers at home. 

If you're wanting to collaborate with other teachers around topics like this one and others, I invite you to join us in the Flipped Teacher Facebook group.

If you're wanting to learn more about the flipped classroom, and about a professional development opportunity to help you build and implement your very own flipped classroom, then don't miss this one-hour flipped classroom webinar only available for a short time.

My friend's the upcoming school year is going to be a challenge for us.  Imagine the challenge it will be for our students.  Let's do what we can to be the calm in the storm for our students, and maybe even for our colleagues, and I hope to support you in that venture so it's all just a bit more sustainable for you in the long run.

Until next time,




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