professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Capturing Images

Last week during the TCTELA Conference, I had the chance to listen to Luis Valdez, a filmmaker, talk about his life and his career. His presentation was an instance where tweets and notes and quotes are insufficient for capturing the event. I did tweet and take notes and write down quotes, but what is still rattling around in my brain several days later is the idea of teacher as filmmaker. Bear with me as I tease this out a bit. It is not fully formed. But that is what I love about blogging: in the course of writing often the idea will begin to take shape.

I was thinking about how someone who works in film can see images from a different perspective. Even before filming begins, there is some sense of what will fill the frame but with plenty of room left for those welcome, unpredictable images that seem to appear out of nowhere. There is the planning of who the filming will proceed, a storyboard if you will. There are different shots planned: close-ups, tracking shots, capturing from a distance. And even after the filming is over, there is the editing, the piecing together the best way to tell the story.

How does this fit into the life of a teacher? I can see the touch points readily. I think we plan and plan and plan but still allow the opportunities for those glorious gifts of unpredictable events to enter into the image we had when we planned. For instance, I added THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO to my YA syllabus a few years ago. At the time, I placed it on the list as I believed it was (and still is) one of the finest pieces of dystopian literature out there for teens. What I had no way of seeing at the time is how many students would go on to read the rest of the trilogy even in the middle of a semester filled with reading requirements. The same is true for some of the graphic novels that have made their way onto my reading lists for children's and YA classes. I added them because I think librarians needs to know about them and their role in collections, readers' advisory, book talks, etc. Unexpected results have included students asking their own students to recommend some more GNs for them to read. Unpredictable and wonderful.

As for the different shots, I think that applies to the way we work in a classroom. Sometimes it is one-to-one, sometimes a small group, occasionally the whole group. Close ups, long range, medium shotes are all important. Together, they can make or break a scene. Too much close up can cause the viewer discomfort; too distant might allow the viewer to become disengaged. There is variety for a number of reasons.

And then there is the editing. I have been teaching about children's and YA literature for almost 25 years now. But the editing, the tweaking, continues. Books change, activities and discussions shift. Apps and approaches change. How an assignment can be completed is more fluid and more flexible each time I teach (I think). The class is mover the same from semester to semester expect at the very foundation: lots of books to read, some reporting out to do.

Finally, the maker of films is an artist. Teaching is an art. Learning is an art, too. I am still musing about this concept of teacher as filmmaker, but I think it works. I think we create something grand, something different from the filmmaker next door, down the hall, across the state and country.
Tags: film, metaphor
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