For the longest time, I was one of very few teachers who used technology in my classroom on a daily basis, especially in Broadcast. However, this year especially within my school district, the push for teachers to implement technology into their daily routine is bigger than ever. Online tests and quizzes, discussion boards, creating video presentations, slide shows… the list just keeps growing.
However, we need to be mindful to not forget the humanity involved with teaching and with modeling very “human” behaviors to help our students become successful adults.
The biggest problem I am catching today’s students having, and it really harms them in Broadcast or any area of journalism for that matter, is eye contact.
In the past five years, I have noticed more and more students comment on how much I look at them. Some are happy about it, and even say they feel like too many people stare at screens and not each other. Others hate it. They feel I am “picking on them” and it makes them uncomfortable when I speak to them and look them in the eye daily.
However, for any of our students to conduct a true heart-to-heart interview and connect with that person, they are going to have to make eye contact.
I often steal an idea I got from Les Rose (great cameraman for CBS), and tell my students they need to not have a bunch of video cameras and gadgets with them when they meet someone for the first time before an interview. They really should just be seen as a human being. Make eye contact with the subject, talk to them, LISTEN to them, and also scout out the location for the best lighting for an interview and for possible b-roll shots.
Yes, leave your phones and your cameras in the car, in the classroom, anywhere but on that initial meeting. They have no business there. I want them to be seen as human beings first.
When my students actually follow these tips and use what I try to model daily in my own classes (eye contact), it actually helps their stories. More people open up to them because trust is built. There’s a human connection.
Beyond the interview, I think these skills are important for any of our students and something we shouldn’t lose sight of as we become more and more screen-driven as a society. I have had a lot of my students from all different classes tell me they can tell I actually care about them, because I actually look them in the eye. This is the kind of behavior we should focus on modeling more and more for our students, as less and less people in the world seem to do so.