Lessons in Livestreaming: Concise Conversations with Cathy and Jackie

Updated 6/23 to include our new conversation with Reeivice Girtman, Director of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction in Phenix City Schools.

By Dakota Punzel

When I took over as Program Coordinator for the Alabama Best Practices Center in early March, no one could have predicted how much would change in the following weeks and months.

Considering my main responsibility is organizing face-to-face professional learning events, I wondered how the ABPC would respond to the new needs of its members and what exactly my job would look like in a time of social distancing.

During one of my first staff Zoom calls, Cathy said that she and Jackie had had an idea: an easily consumable Facebook Live show to “share best practices and provide a little bit of joy during an uncertain time.” It was an avenue for offering valuable content and networking to our members at a distance. We all loved the concept and got to work.

I was dubbed the “show director” and had to learn how to host a Facebook Live show via Zoom in a relatively short period of time. Since our debut, we have made (and gained from) new mistakes each and every episode.

The following are some technical lessons we have learned that may be helpful if you, your school, or district ever wants to do something similar. A pandemic is not a prerequisite!

  1. If possible, have a host. The technical aspect of hosting a Facebook Live show with music and graphics is challenging. I believe one of the reasons Concise Conversations is so engaging is that Cathy, Jackie, and our guests really are just having a conversation. There is no “tech stress” from special effects or worries about background and lighting.
  2. Hosting a Zoom meeting and an FB Live session concurrently takes a lot of bandwidth. Make sure your internet connection is as reliable as possible before going live.
  3. Do a rehearsal with all participants to go over format, practice tech procedures, establish talking cues, and decide on an overall goal for the show/discussion. You’ll see we were able to smooth this out over the course of the first several shows.
  4. Promote your event. An eye-catching graphic shared the day before and the morning of the livestream goes a long way. Be sure to tag/mention your guests and organizations if applicable.
  5. Start the Zoom meeting AT LEAST 15-20 minutes before you plan to go live.
  6. Start a Facebook Watch Party. This notifies your followers that you have “gone live” driving more viewers to the stream.
  7. Record your Zoom session. This ensures that you can produce a seamless record of your session after the fact, even if Facebook Live drops the live feed (which does happen!). The Zoom recording is also much higher quality than the Facebook Live recording.
  8. Do not use Facebook Live Producer. It is glitchy and causes more drops in the livestream process.
  9. Do not use copyrighted music. It’s a violation. And Facebook’s AI has gotten a lot better at identifying and removing any content containing copyright infringement. https://www.bensound.com/royalty-free-music is a great resource for royalty free music.
  10. Roll with the punches. Things WILL go wrong. But, like in-person presentations, you notice your mistakes much more than anyone in the audience.

Here Are Our First 8 Episodes of Concise Conversations

Each one is about 15 minutes and is filled with home décor. Keep up with future chats by subscribing to our YouTube channel!

Alyson Carpenter, a long-time friend and partner of the Alabama Best Practices Center, agreed to be our first guest. Despite our first-time jitters and glitches, she was great! Alyson is the Instructional Technology and Professional Learning Coordinator for Athens City Schools. She talked about how her district emphasized social-emotional support during remote learning.

Debbie Brooks, Principal of Pick Elementary in Auburn City Schools, was our second Concise Conversations guest and talked about “all things communication,” including ways her school has stayed connected with students, families and staff during the quarantine.

Taylor Somerville , a certified breathing coach, shared ideas about stress release and mindfulness during our third livestream. This has been our only 30-minute Zoom session so far. We figured everyone probably needed 30 minutes of relaxation. 🙂

Khristie Goodwin, the Curriculum Coordinator for Oxford City Schools, was Jackie and Cathy’s guest. They talked about how her district has approached distance learning.

Jeremy Van Egmond, the K-4 Assistant Principal at Pike Road Elementary School, talked about the counterintuitive teaching strategy of “overestimating kids.”

Jimmy Shaw, Superintendent of Florence City Schools, talked with Cathy and Jackie about strategies his district is using to Strengthen Community during the pandemic.

Paige Raney, Chief Academic Officer of Guntersville City Schools, reflected on her district’s experiences during the emergency school closure and the importance of Focusing on the Essentials.

Bryan Goodwin, CEO of @McREL International and the author of books about balanced leadership and inquisitive learning. Watch this newly archived Concise Conversations video podcast & enjoy a chat about student and teacher curiosity!

Reeivice Girtman, Director of Elementary Curriculum & Instruction in Phenix City Schools, describes the careful thinking that went into his district’s plan for summer programs this year. Looking ahead to the 2020-2021 opening of school, he emphasizes the urgency of addressing students’ social and emotional learning.