Helping Future Educators Develop Confidence

Videos Help Students See Themselves As Math Teachers
Dr. Theodore Chao
Associate Professor, College of Education and Human Ecology
At a Glance: 
  • Dr. Chao's class completed a digital storytelling assignment to share who they are as math teachers with their future students.
  • The exercise encouraged them to see themselves confidently in the role they'll one day occupy.

Do you see yourself as a math teacher? That’s a hard question for many new elementary school teachers to answer, but one that Dr. Theodore Chao hopes that his students will answer with an emphatic ‘yes!’ after his digital storytelling assignment.

In Teaching and Learning Mathematics in Grades PreK-5, Dr. Chao helps aspiring elementary school teachers to not only learn to teach math, but to internalize the belief that they can teach math – and hopefully pass that belief on to their students.

“Most elementary teachers enter their classrooms nervous about teaching math,” said Dr. Chao. “This matters because there is an incredible transfer effect of how teachers who exhibit math anxiety can transfer than anxiety to their own students, particularly in gendered in racialized ways.”

This year the class has used digital storytelling to document the evolution of their identity as math instructors. Each student, aided by a Digital Flagship iPad, shared photos with a partner in class to document their experience as first math students and then as math teachers.

At the end of the semester, students reflect on their learning and evolution to create a 3- to 5-minute video aimed at their future students about who they are as a math teacher and what they hope students will learn from them. 

“My hope is that, by engaging my pre-service teachers to create and share their own stories, they will move from just pretending like they see themselves as math teachers to actually believing that they can teach math,” said Dr. Chao.

A final piece of advice from Dr. Chao?

“Allow students the flexibility to use their own editing platforms and tools. Many of them are pretty sharp at creating digital content.”

Implement this in your course

If you want to learn more about digital storytelling and how it can help your students craft a narrative about themselves or others, Dr. Chao suggests taking the Digital Storytelling workshop from Story Center.

Visit the Teaching and Learning Resource Center to find helpful guides for digital tools provided by the university and workshops you can attend to learn more about leveraging technology in your course. ​

Your students can get help using video creation programs by scheduling a tech tutoring appointment