Here’s a great video workshop plan for your staff to help them bond and gain some skills

Sweet, sweet summer time is here. It’s time for lazy days at the creek, road trips with my daughter to National Parks, and plenty of alarm-free days (mornings just ain’t my thing).

Yet, even though my LOVE for summer is pretty intense, I still know that this is the perfect opportunity to make the first day of school less awkward for my BJJTV ( staff members. One such way is our Summer PSA Workshop days.

The Blue Jay Journal TV staff is an application-only staff. Each year we accept a mix of ages, experience levels, and skillsets. By breaking the ice during the summer with our Summer PSA Workshop days, it eases a lot of nerves on day one of the school year.

Now, don’t get too freaked out by the idea of doing something like this. The way I set it up is pretty minimal time and effort on my end. It is SUMMER after all!

I look at my summer calendar and plans; then I select dates that work well for me. Yes, you can be selfish with your time during the summer. Permission granted!

I message my returning (more-experienced) staff members those dates and they let me know which will work for them.

That helps me narrow it down so I can talk to my buddies at Exit 11 Workspace ( about our available dates. We need to pick a date from that list that works best for them.

SIDE NOTE: If you want to meet at your school, go for it. However, we go to Exit 11 for a change of scenery, good coffee, and sweets. It’s also a great way to support local businesses that in turn support us. They do not charge us for the use of their space; they only ask that we buy a few drinks or snacks there.

Now it is time for me to create an “event” in our BJJTV GroupMe ( and explain:

“We need 6 to 8 of you to attend one of our Summer PSA Workshop dates. We will meet at Exit 11 Workspace for a quick meeting and introductions at 11:30am. Then you will go out as a team to get your audio and video footage. We will meet back at Exit 11 to edit the PSA, post it, etc. We should be done by 4:00pm at the latest. This is a great way for returning staff to brush up on skills, as well as new staff to get a quick intro to camera/editing work. These workshops are helpful; trust me. We like a mix of returning and new staff. See above to RSVP if you can attend.”

Of course I already know some of my returning staff can attend. They often jump in and RSVP first and then post in our GroupMe to encourage new students to join us.

Examples from just this past week include:

“It’s really fun to work with new crew and pick up a few new skills. I promise you’ll enjoy it. We’re not scary.”

“We really need new faces there so we can get to know each other so we can work better together at the beginning of the school year!”

Talk about a positive peer pressure moment! I do love that my returners are often very open and stress the importance of teamwork. Plus, it helps many of them have experienced the Summer PSA Workshop themselves as first-year staff members and know the true value of it.

Once we get the date and the team assembled, I make sure I have batteries charged, a camera and memory card ready, a microphone, and a tripod. We also have one iMac laptop (thank goodness for grants) with Final Cut installed that I make sure is charged for the day, too.

Before the workshop date, I also brainstorm with one or two of the returning students about the focus of the PSA they are producing so that a basic script can be handed to the team during our 11:30 a.m. meeting.

Once they go film, I am able to run an errand, meet a friend for lunch, go home and nap, you name it. One year I somehow fit in a dentist appointment during that timeframe!

Staff members keep me posted on their progress and let me know when they are back at Exit 11 to edit the video. I purposely wait a bit to join them again so they can work independently without me there to troubleshoot or overstep.

Once I rejoin the group, I see what they have done and maybe make a few suggestions for improvements. Once they finalize the project, we upload it to YouTube, Twitter, and/or our Facebook pages for public consumption!

It’s a pretty low-key, low-stress day. Yet, we are able to break the ice with each other, get out in the community together, and give our audience some content. Typically, by this point in the summer our audience is ready for something new to watch!

Last summer one of my favorite productions from a Summer PSA Workshop day focused on the Little Food Pantry movement. Not only did the students in attendance get to practice all those 21st Skills ( we use in BJJTV on a daily basis; we were able to clean out kitchen cabinets for a good cause!

You can view that video here:

Is it perfect? No. However, considering that over half the students who worked on this piece had never done a voice over, filmed a shot sequence, or edited video before this moment – I am pretty content with it.

Don’t think I am encouraging you to forget your flip flops, lazy days, and self-care this summer by adding extra “work” – the truth is this extra “work” is pretty easy to implement and execute. And, the pay off is pretty amazing!

If you have any questions about this process, feel free to email me at I’d love to hear from you.


Michelle Turner

Michelle Turner is an award-winning Broadcast and Photography Instructor at Washington High School in Washington, Missouri. She has advised Blue Jay Journal TV since 1998. Michelle is the 2015 MIPA Missouri High School Journalism Teacher of the Year and the 2016 Journalism Education Association’s National Broadcast Adviser of the Year. As a speaker, author and educator, Michelle encourages students to find meaningful stories and practice ethical journalism while never forgetting to make a connection with their intended audience.

Michelle Turner has 20 posts and counting. See all posts by Michelle Turner

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