Seven years ago I was hired by my district to enhance the broadcast/video journalism program in our school. We had a program, but it was not necessarily achieving the results the school was hoping for.The first thing I did was allow the students to choose the projects they wanted to do. I wanted to gauge what they already knew. I watched their abilities and processes for 6 weeks, interjecting some opinion along the way, but for the most part, allowed them to work “as they always had.” What I found during this six weeks was startling. The work was sloppy, confusing, and not interesting at all. Students did not follow basic instructions, and were not motivated. When I asked the students about their processes, the main excuse I heard was, “Well, nobody sees our work anyway. Nobody watches during school when we show it. So who cares?” That’s where I came in. I care. I needed to raise the level of expectation and it was clear to me their work needed a much wider viewing audience. So I implemented these 4 steps.
1. Cancelled the show
- Each student received a 50% on their projects, and we cancelled the show until further notice.
- I gave specific feedback on where each student fell short on their project, and I gave them 4 weeks to correct their mistakes.
- I then offered to re-grade their projects once they were corrected. 7 of 8 students took me up on this. The 8th student took the 50% and dropped the class the next day.
- This instituted a revision process now for our future productions and it also drew a line in the sand of what was acceptable, and what was not.
- We have now consistently delivered the show to our audience every month for the past 7 years.
* Side note: The student who dropped the class, was the show editor. The class freaked out that we now didn’t have an editor. I told them it was actually an opportunity now for one of them to step up and learn how to do it. And that is exactly what happened.
2. Modeled what I expected
- We watched professional and student videos from news and films that I wanted to emulate.
- We discussed and analyzed the techniques we wanted to learn and tried out those techniques and skills ourselves.
3. The “Professional Shoot”
- We began a monthly activity, where I personally went out on a shoot with the students after school or on a weekend.
- I modeled the process I wanted them to follow from concept to completion, and they really enjoyed this experience.
- Finally, I created a free teacher account with SchoolTube, and had my students create free students accounts, and we began publishing their work to the world.
- Once the students saw their work published online, and they started to get hits to their videos, they were motivated, inspired, and were ready to take their abilities to the next level.
- Truly, this part of the process transformed the way I teach, and our program has grown exponentially.
The work the kids produce extends well beyond the walls in which they produce it. Students will meet the expectations you set for them. Set them high and see the tremendous results. Good luck!