The school year ended today at Thetford Academy, where I worked for two years, teaching math and English to English schoolchildren. It was an interesting, challenging time. While I’m happy to be back home, I also miss it very much. In particular, I miss my former Year 10 students, this year’s batch of Year 11s.
Both years that I was there, I had the privilege of attending the Year 11 Leavers Prom, where teachers and students alike celebrated the massive achievement that is completing one’s GCSE exams. It being a prom, I, of course, danced.
I love dancing.
Much to my surprise, my students also loved my dancing—not just the Year 11s, but other years as well.
So I was sad that this year I wouldn’t be able to dance at the prom, particularly because I had such a good time with that group of students last year. My group were very motivated, and even when they weren’t keen on learning the math, they did their best for me. That meant a lot. Some of the group were also among the first students I taught, back when they were in Year 9 and I was on the now-legendary south site. Many of these students have followed me on Twitter since I left, and I can only hope they occasionally find me amusing. They still make me laugh.
(I don’t know how many miss my dancing, but I know everyone misses my laugh.)
Anyway. I couldn’t be at their prom, so I came up with a crazy idea instead. It’s Taylor Swift’s fault. I’ve become a fan; I can’t help it, and “Shake It Off” is both insanely catchy and positive in its message. Sometime during my nth listen, I realized I wanted to shoot a music video of me dancing to “Shake It Off” as a treat to my former students.
Small problem: I have no idea how to shoot a music video. Nor did I particularly feel like editing it. Programming? Love it. Writing? All over that. Editing video? Urrrrgh.
Conveniently for me, my friend Carly happened to be learning this very skill as part of her Science Communication program at Laurentian University. One day over Facebook I asked, “How would you like to shoot a video of me dancing to ‘Shake It Off’?” Now, I know Carly, so I kind of expected the affirmative answer I got. I did not expect the superlative skill that went into perfecting the video. That it turned out so well is entirely thanks to her.
I’m going to cajole Carly into writing a post on her blog about the making of the video (and you all should go and read her blog). Until then, though, I asked her for a soundbite:
It was really exciting to finally be able to go through the process of knowing how I wanted something to look, knowing how to look up instructions for it, trying it, and having it actually work on screen. Editing the video was really educational and satisfying.
We shot most of it in one evening at Hillcrest Park, because that’s how our complicated schedules worked out. We met once more in June to do a few more scenes, once the flowers were planted, and you can’t even tell I had another outbreak of shingles in my eye! Then Carly worked her Adobe magic, the abominably large AVI file landed in my Dropbox, and my computer groaned as it stuffed things up the pipe to YouTube.
Totally. Worth it.
I don’t have a bucket list, but if I did, shooting a music video is no longer on it. Been there, done that. Thanks for the great song, Taylor Swift. And thanks to my former students, for being pretty cool people. I hope they go on to do great things, and then I can retweet those great things and say, “I taught them once!” and everyone can go, “Sure, Ben. Sure.” and pretend to believe me.
I’m so proud of how this turned out, though, that I have to share it. And then one day I’ll get to say, “Remember that one time…?”