This is the last of the Broadcast Town Meetings. This is how we put the final question to our group of teachers, and it began with a country music lyric.
“I wish a didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.” —Toby Keith
Looking back, how did you make your job so much harder in the beginning? In other words, help out a relatively new broadcast journalism adviser with some serious advice based on experience.
A—“Relax the class culture so that you and your students can move out from behind the eight ball and actually be thoughtful in planning, reflective during production, and constructively critical in critiquing finished work. These processes take time and intention, and the “frazzled” broadcast newsroom just isn’t sustainable for many of us or our students. It’s about mastering technical elements, targeting an audience with a memorable story, practicing ethics and collaboration skills, and exercising creativity within the parameters of time and good taste. It can be the most anticipated period of the day if we don’t try to overload it week after week.” —Jon Reese, Decatur High School, Decatur GA
A—“My advice to new advisers would be to try and avoid too many obligations to the school. Don’t agree to make videos for anyone, don’t get suckered into pointless productions that serve no purpose in your classroom, etc… You could easily spend your entire days producing things for the school. Focus on your publication and your entry level kids. Get that off the ground first, then you can start to build other things into your program (that benefit your program). Just try to avoid taking on too much at first. You will have your hands full just organizing the curriculum and teaching them fundamentals.” —Jeb Brunt, Norwood High School, Norwood MA
A—“Put the responsibility of the show in the kids… and leave it there. If they don’t do their jobs, (to a set standard) don’t have the show…” —Robyn Gramly, Prosper High School, Prosper TX
A—“Try not to stress out about learning EVERY piece of equipment in front of you. As a straight “A” student I was trained to do well at everything I put my mind to. Then, I became a broadcast teacher. I knew nothing about ANYTHING broadcast when I first started and I stressed out for at least two years before I made it OK to not stress. I also teach English in my building, have three kids and try to have some semblance of a life. It’s just not humanly possible to know everything ALL the time. That being said, I made little goals for myself to help my type A personality. I focused on one thing every two-three weeks and that helped. I would also make it OK for your students to help you if you’re as old as I am! These kids know technology and most love to know more than the teacher in some things. I know enough to be dangerous and then I celebrate what the kids learn.” —Elaine McDonald, Lee’s Summit High School, Lee’s Summit MO
A—“Simplify. Take small steps. Take time to teach the fundamentals and then let students learn as they go. Don’t stress the small stuff and go with the flow. Quality comes from a vision, creativity, innovation and storytelling more than it comes from expensive sets and equipment.” —Dee Harris, Bixby High School, Bixby OK
A—“Make sure you know all the elements of a great story and how they interact with each other and how to conduct good well lit interviews.” —Steve Cortez, Blue Valley Southwest High School, Overland Park KS
A—“I’d say don’t freak out. I used to. Then I read this tip in a book somewhere (can’t remember the name of the book) about a person’s inbox. When we live a full/good life and have a nice career our inbox is always full, with things to do… no need to panic and freak out and try to make sure the inbox is empty… all tasks done right away… and we gotta learn to LET GO and understand someday someone else will take our inbox and take over our work when our time has passed….” —Michelle Turner, Washington High School, Washington MO
A—“Be very selective on who you put on your advanced staff. Do not let the school just put kids in your class. In order to be successful, you have to have a staff of people who want to produce a quality product. Seek out opportunities for your students to succeed and record “resume building” projects. Example: Have your students produce a commercial for a local business and place it on youtube. If the business likes the commercial, then they can put that on their resume as…”Produced video commercial for local business.” My students also produce wedding videos for clients. We use that money for our trip each year. This is a great way for them to interactive with the public and make decisions on the spot as a team. Go to one of the broadcasting workshops for beginning teachers. A great way to network and get your program off to a good start.” —Steve Vaughn, Royse City High School, Royse City TX
A—“Starting out with just two editing stations was really tough on our line producer. We now have six editing bays plus two laptops… makes a big difference.” —Jeff Kuchno, Oakville High School, St. Louis MO
A—“As part of my first job teaching, I started a TV program from scratch in a district that never had one. I worked super hard to do that, figuring out the curriculum, equipment, and teaching at the same time, but of all the things I was trying to juggle during school and after hours, I should have made planning a bigger priority. I spent many days winging it. My advice for a new teacher, is to make lesson planning a priority. I knew what I wanted students to accomplish each day, but spelling it out clearer on a detailed lesson plan would have save me a lot of grief. My second piece of advice is to be fair and firm with your rules. I was too nice, too understanding, and too laid back at first. My students got to push the limits and get away with a lot. I realize now I wasn’t doing them any favors in helping them mature and take responsibility. I would say make sure you maintain a position of authority and an expectation of respect.” —Pam Dixon, Lake Charles-Boston Academy of Learning, Lake Charles LA