I am unsure of the stats for those who quit teaching Journalism, but I am sure it is higher. I have watched many Journalism teachers in the past 19 years quit teaching Journalism, but stay in the profession. They have told me how much easier it is to just be a "regular" classroom teacher and not an "adviser."
Why? Why is it such a tough job to not only teach, but to be a Journalism Adviser? Here's four quick reasons, I have witnessed first-hand:
- The hours are long. From running cables for home football games to Saturdays spent proofreading writing that I am positive no one ever used this tool called "Spell Check" on. It certainly adds more to your "inbox" of work to do.
- You have to adapt. The technology for how we deliver our product is ever-changing. I remember the days of croppers and grease pencils for Yearbook and reel-to-reel for audio for our radio shows. (That same reel-to-reel that flew off once, hit me in the face, and left a small scar line.) Heck, now most new iMacs don't even have DVD burners built into them. It's all "clouded" or transferred online. Those are huge changes from running out VHS tapes to the cable station.
- The staffs will rollercoaster yearly, sometimes semesterly (if that's not a word, I just made it one!). Yes, some years there are rock stars, other years you're dragging them kicking and screaming to deadlines. Some staffers are sponges and want to learn any and everything, others just want it handed to them on a silver-platter. There are years I have been showered with praise and presents, and years where it's clear my presence isn't welcome when I walk into my own classroom for the daily staff meeting at the start of the hour.
- Reporting the truth isn't easy. Often your community (be it town or school) may not want to hear the truth. The first person they come for isn't the student reporter, it's the adviser. That's something to be prepared for because it can happen at any time.
So, as I sit here over halfway through year nineteen of teaching, I have had people actually ask me, "Why have you advised some sort of Journalism EVERY year you've taught?" One person even asked me this winter, "How can you stand it?" as if I was in some bad relationship. I actually had to chuckle at the way she phrased that question.
The answer is simple. I love it. It's who I am.
I love it when kids (even the ones who aren't fond of me) actually GET IT and produce an amazing story.
I love it when my students are honored for their work in any shape or form. It doesn't have to be a certificate or plaque, it can be the mom who emails us a "Thank you for telling my son's story" or the student who comes in to my room who I have NEVER seen before and says they loved our show.
Even on those years the staff doesn't "click" with each other, or me - I know they are still learning and growing, not only as reporters, but as people.
What other class can teach a kid how to manage deadlines, interact with people outside their age group and school environment, write, speak, and produce quality product again and again? I can't think of many classes that have those expectations across the board. I feel like in one class period Journalism students are exposed to what some students rarely get in a full day of courses.
Even if my students don't go into Journalism after high school, I know when they leave my class they will have learned how to handle real-world experiences. They can call or email a stranger and ask them a question in an articulate manner. They can shake hands with people and look them in the eye. They can have empathy because they know that no matter what they see on the outside, every person has a story - there is way more to them than meets the eye. They can meet deadlines. They can speak with confidence. They can write, and write well (even when they forget the almighty "Spell Check" tool). They can carry themselves in a mature manner and react well in a variety of sitatuations.
For all those reasons, and more... that's why I keep at it. That's why I can "stand it" after all these years. That's why I hope to never have a year of teaching where I am not in a Journalism classroom. I've had my share of "print" years and "broadcast" years, and all of them (even the rough ones) were so rewarding. It is true that the road may be rough, but the reward is worth it.
People are always posting these motivational quotes. Often they say to find your passion and pursue it. I am blessed that I did. It is my sincere hope for anyone who reads this that they will find their passion and pursue it, too.
Until next time,