All the books I have read in 2016 (so far):
"What I Learned When I Almost Died"
by Chris Licht
"Generation iY: Our Last Chance
to Save Their Future"
by Tim Elmore
by Larry Hagman with Todd Gold
"Grandma Gatewood's Walk"
by Ben Montgomery
"Addressing the Challenging Behavior of Children with High Functioning Autism/Asperger Syndrome in the Classroom" by Rebecca A. Moyes
"Find it in Everything. Photographs by Drew Barrymore" by Drew Barrymore
"Wild" by Cheryl Strayed
Not pictured because I just started reading it:
My Life as a Polygamist's Wife"
by Irene Spencer
For the past few years, I have ditched the whole "New Year's Resolution" thing. Instead, I set goals for myself and do monthly evaluations. I ask myself basic questions:
Where am I with my goals?
Can I check this one off the list?
Am I falling behind, and if so, how can I get back on track?
Now that 2016 is almost halfway finished, I decided to take a deeper look at one of the six goals I set for myself this year.
You may not understand this, but it is a true selfish indulgence and personal delight that I committed myself to reading more books in 2016. Yes, actual books. I am not counting articles on glowing devices or facebook status updates, but books.
I have always felt that the more I read and the more I travel, the more interesting I become. Others may not see it, but I do. I feel that the more I learn through experiences and books, the more I can tolerate being in the same room with myself. How boring would it be to be me if I wasn't growing intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually?
My daughter and I often do nightly devotional readings (from a book, not an app), but I realized in 2015 that my reading beyond that nightly devotional had gone from pretty rampant to nonexistent. I blame my smartphone and my lack of self-control.
However, 2016 is just a bit over halfway gone, and I have now read more books in 2016 than I did in the past three years combined.
I have learned all kinds of amazing new things. I have been inspired, as well as brought to tears and laughter. I feel like I am again becoming someone I can stand being around. Perhaps, I am a little less boring in fact.
~ Until you read my blog again,
PS Too many students complain about reading at WHS. I wish someone would say, "Michelle, here's 15 minutes of free time to just read every day." I would be so happy. Maybe the next time you view reading as a chore, you can think of me and how I wish I had the gift of time you are given by many teachers. Read. Learn. Grow. Become a little less boring.
I am in the uplift business. As an educator, I believe in doing more than simply teaching a curriculum. It’s my mission to help students find their passion. I want them to see greatness within themselves that they may not know is there.
Imagine my surprise when the tables were turned on me by you last summer.
I entered my classroom on a steamy day in August 2015 ready to prep for my 20th year of teaching. I found a very heavy package. As I opened it, I instantly knew what was in my hands. It was a Peter Lik photography book.
I knew that book well because just that spring when I was placing my school supply order, I had looked at it online. I wished I could have one, but it certainly wasn’t in my budget to order one. My mind raced in a panic assuming that I accidentally ordered it for my classroom.
Thoughts ran a marathon through my mind:
How did I do this?
I was just LOOKING at them online, I didn’t mean to order one!
How do I explain the mix up to my bosses and our finance office?
…but then I opened your letter. As I read it, I felt happy tears and got goose bumps!
As you stated, every year my students select photographers they admire to write. You were the recipient of one such letter and instead of just skimming it and putting it to the side, you did one of the kindest things I have ever experienced.
In my flurry of excitement, I showed the letter to my bosses, my co-workers in the art department, any one I could find in the building…I even took a photo of it and posted it on my personal facebook account. People were in awe.
Within a few days, my student got a hold of me to see if I had heard from you like she had. You didn’t just write me and give me an amazing gift, you were kind to her, too.
The words you wrote inspired me. Suddenly, I felt like perhaps I was more than a decent teacher. Maybe I had some greatness within myself that I didn’t see. I felt like I could accomplish anything because you, a man whose work I admire deeply, took the time to call me “inspirational” and a “legend.”
I read the letter to my parents and daughter over dinner one night. I showed them the book. My mom agreed that your letter was a “framer.”
From the receipt of that heavy box you sent to the very last day of school, my 20th year of teaching was honestly one of my favorite school years ever. I felt compelled to try new things and toss myself into areas where I could fail, but instead I was able to flourish.
Mr. Lik, I don’t just teach Photography at my school, I am also the Broadcast Adviser for Blue Jay Journal TV.
Upon receipt of your letter, I thought to myself, “Well, I was a finalist for JEA National Broadcast Adviser of the Year a few years ago, maybe I should try again? I am a ‘legend,’ right?”
OK, maybe that is a bit goofy sounding, but it’s true. You instilled within me the confidence to try so many new things within my career and in my day-to-day teaching. You did that with one letter (which is now framed in my home) and one amazing gift (your beautiful art book).
So, in conclusion, THANK YOU for taking your time to write a letter to both my student and me. Thank you for the photography book, and most importantly for the uplift. You lit a fire within me. I set a goal to make my 20th year as a teacher my best one ever. I don’t want that sense of adventure to end. I can only imagine what next school year, my 21st, will have in store.
I am more than just a fan of your work, I am an eternally grateful teacher.
Michelle A. Turner
PS: By the way, I am the 2016 JEA National Broadcast Adviser of the Year. Thank you for that “push” that I needed to believe in myself and hit the “submit” button on that application.
This school year has been one of the biggest blessings for me for MANY reasons. However, eight of those reasons are photographed right here:
I won't pretend that all eight of these young women are perfect, because in many ways it is a person's imperfections that make them who they are. Sometimes those qualities that we wish we could fix about ourselves, end up being some of our best character traits.
I will be honest and say that in each of these young women I see these wonderful qualities: hope, humor, joy, determination, perseverance, beauty, intelligence, heart, beautiful smiles and amazing hair! (I am a girl, after all! Just look at their hair!)
When I think about the school year, I know so many of the great moments I have witnessed have been because of these young women.
They took the time to be leaders for their BJJTV Staff and their school. They shared in that responsibility and didn't wait for some magic title to be bestowed upon them. It didn't matter if they had been on staff three years or one, they all stepped up and took on responsibility for leading this staff to great heights. When one of them had an off day or week, another would step in and help pick up the slack. That kind of teamwork is something I dream of.
They found ways to tell stories that mattered to our school and community, too. Some of their work has gone "viral" and for good reasons, not for lackluster ones. They produced stories with heart, with gumption, and with the best interests of all the stakeholders in mind. I couldn't be more proud of the body of work created this year, and this year isn't even totally over yet!
As their time in BJJTV comes to an end, I have four thoughts I want to share with them, and any student who is about to embark into the "real world."
#1. Too many of our nation's youth are leaving HS and entering college with a lot of "brain power." Sadly, though, we have not equipped them with "work power." I am fairly confident that by being in a program like BJJTV, these ladies now know how to work and work hard to accomplish a goal. They know how to overcome obstacles and not give up. My TOP TIP for life success in college and in the work place is to WORK and get tasks done to the best of your ability in an acceptable timeframe. Bosses don't want excuses, they wants results.
#2. The biggest regret I have from college was not taking the opportunity that was handed to me before my senior year to study for a few months in London. What was I thinking? Oh, yeah...I was thinking about the cost and how it could throw off my graduation date by a few months and a guy I was seeing. Stupid! I still kick myself for that. Do not turn down amazing opportunities for crazy reasons.
#3. Get out of your bubble and network with new people. As you leave WHS, you can actually make new friends. You can live in a dorm or apartment with people you've just met. You can actually put down that phone and network socially face-to-face with new people. Do it. It'll help you grow and change in so many ways.
#4. Travel. Travel. Travel. Travel. I can't say it enough. You may say you don't have the time or money, that's a lie. You can start a fund now. I started young by stashing away cash I "would have" spent on expensive clothing or a fancy meal out in an envelope in my freezer. Now, I do something crazy and have a travel savings account and find ways to go on the cheap, like flyer miles via Southwest Visa Rewards. I have had friends ask me strange questions like, "Why are you going to New Mexico over Christmas with your mom?" My response, "I haven't been there yet." Every town, every state, and every country you visit will teach you more than I can possibly teach you. Just put down that phone and absorb your surroundings. It'll show you that there's not one "right" way to live, but many ways. Oh, and try the food, too. It's a fun experience to learn that Frito Pie in Santa Fe is amazing, but grits in Bowling Green aren't up your alley.
So, ladies, as you tackle the last quarter of your WHS experience, I hope you'll take some of my thoughts to heart. Also, know that I thank you all so much for an amazing year.
I work too much.
I stare at a screen too much.
I don't take care of myself enough.
Blah. Blah. Blah.
OK, so I have heard it a lot from various sources (friends, co-workers, my eye doctor, and even the dentist).
Maybe it's true.
However, I can say this. When it gets to be a bit too much, I do have one way to stay sane and find my sense of self.
My great escape is photography.
See that image above?
I made that at Grand Teton National Park this past summer. Yeah, I used the word MADE. There's a big difference between MAKE and TAKE. Ansel Adams stressed that. We don't take, we make great images.
Who is Ansel? Well, funny you ask. He's one of my inspirations in life. He got me out to Yosemite several times. He encouraged me to reach for all the range of tone possible in an image and to really hone my focus. That's impressive for a man who passed away when I was only 10 years old.
Gosh, I wish I had met Ansel Adams.
OK, let's get this back on track...
Here's my secret to sanity and self-care, folks:
There's nothing more cool than hopping on a plane with a $5 to $10 ticket (thanks Southwest Flyer Mile program!) and jumping in a rental car with a map. Oh, and of course I pack my camera.
I don't just like to bop around out west, I can find images to capture in my own neck of the woods, no airline ticket required. Look at this one one below:
I like that one. That's huge. I often am my worst critic. (Oh, I need to add that to the list after "I don't take care of myself enough." NOTED!)
Funny thing about this image is that I made it at WHS right outside the West Wing Cafeteria.
I am so old... I mean "experienced" and "seasoned" that I remember when that area was Four Rivers Technical School. Yes, I said Technical School. Now, it's the West Wing cafeteria. Where have the last two decades gone?
So, with age and experience comes this thing called "getting to know yourself."
This is what I know. All those people I mentioned before are right.
I work too much.
I stare at a screen too much.
I don't take care of myself enough.
((adding, as noted)) I often am my worst critic.
However, I have photography. THAT keeps me on track. You can just ask my BFF, Kris. (If you can catch her, she's a busy gal.) Anytime she notices I am acting a little off kilter and unbalanced, she says it's time for me to get my camera and go for a drive.
She's right. Where's my keys?
The year is 1996.
Warrenton Junior High School.
Yes, back when they were Junior High Schools and not "Middle Schools."
You are in a lower-level corner room that has some windows near the top. A bit drab when empty, but when full it is bustling!
It's an overcrowded school system, so a split-shift day is in full swing until they can complete a new High School building.
This yellow room has two teachers desks!
There are High School Math classes from the crack of dawn to noon, and Junior High English, Publications, and Drama classes from noon to about sunset.
A very nervous, yet very happy to have a job in her chosen field, 22 year-old graduate of Central Missouri State University (now UCM) stands before a classroom of 33 students in a Junior High Drama class near the middle of the school day. It's huge. Her other classes are manageable, but this one is boiling over with eye-rollers, talkers, and kids angry because they just found out their old Drama teacher resigned two weeks before school started.
It is so crowded that some students take turns sitting on the floor the first week until they cram more desks in.
In the crowd, there's a girl who at times makes empathetic eye contact with the very inexperienced teacher who is just trying to remember what it was like to be in Drama. (The last time she was in Drama was in High School!)
Back to the student... she's 14 maybe going on 15, tall for her age, and mature. She is always well-mannered, but there's this spirit to her. A little spark in her eyes that only increases as the days turn into weeks and the weeks into months. She is vibrant.
The nervous, young, and not-so-bright teacher and her hit it off.
They laugh at the same things, they tell the same jokes, and they think the same things often.
By the end of the year, the girl steals the show on stage, at nursing homes where she would give monologues, and steals the young teacher's heart.
Flash forward 20 years. I (the young teacher) have silver streaks taking over my hair and I feel way less nervous. I am at Washington High School in a windowless, but VERY bright classroom.
That young girl who I just adored and secretly wished could be my little sister is still very much in my life.
I was only in that town and school for two years, but somehow Krista and I connected. Over the years she and I have been in touch, out of touch, back in touch... and we've celebrated many milestones.
She sang in my wedding. She was also one of the first to express her sadness over a decade later when my marriage ended. She celebrated my 40th birthday. She made sure I had a chance to see her in Theatre during her run as a Graduate student at Lindenwood University. She has played on a slip and slide with my daughter. She's met me for lunches, a roadtrip, and more. We have laughed, cried, and laughed some more over the years together.
As an only child, she very well could be the little sister I always wanted - yet at the same time I didn't want a sibling for "real." See, the beauty of Krista is I have never had to share a house with her or fight for the attention of our parents or bathroom counter space! Ha!
Also, she's 32 and I am 41. There's just enough of an age gap, I think sometimes she listens to my advice and doesn't write me off as too old or too young.
What has her on my mind this summer? Another life celebration has occurred. I got to visit her in the hospital, and hold her newborn daughter on Saturday, July 18th. Grace is beautiful. I figured I would love her since I have loved her mom for 20 years as my "adopted" sister, and I was right. I am not great with babies, but this one - she has stolen my heart just lke her mom has.
I am so thankful I got to meet and hold Krista's little Grace recently. I am also thankful Krista's mom went and sat with my daughter so I could do so. (Kids under 14 are not allowed in the hospital she's in).
So, the age-old question(s) posed to me yearly are addressed right here today in this blog entry:
~ Who is your favorite student, MT?
~ I am your favorite, right?
~ Come on, who is your favorite?
Mystery solved. It's still Krista...
...or maybe it's ALL of you?
Until next time,
It's only been a month of summer and I feel like I have crammed a YEAR into this month. It's been so busy, yet so great.
I am sure some of you are like, "Yeah, what can a teacher do for fun in the summer?"
Ahhhh, well, here are my highlights so far:
~ Wrestled both my cats to the vet for their appointments. Bonus: clean bills of health.
~ Fished and hung out with my family at Clearwater Lake in Southern, Mo.
~ Finally saw Alison Krauss and Union Station in concert. If you don't know her and the band, think of O' Brother Where Are Thou. They did a lot of the music and singing (not George Clooney).
~ Went to Reelfoot Lake, TN with my family to fish. Sadly, the best fish we caught were on our plates at the restaurants, but this place was so beautiful. I took so many photos and was just impressed with the region and wildlife.
~ Visited the Discovery Park of America in Union, TN. VERY COOL. My daughter loved it.
~ Took the only riverboat ferry across the Mississippi from Kentucky to Missouri. I was nervous. My daughter had to tell me it was going to be ok. We only had to pay $16 and a hug. I gave the cash to the ferry worker, while my daughter provided the hug.
~ Hiked a little trail at Big Oak Tree State Park in Southern Missouri (BEAUTY!). I have always wanted to see this place and it was worth it. It was just FULL OF LIFE and humidity, but that's to be expected.
~ Have filled a sick amount of memory cards with portrait sessions and TONS of nature photos.
~ Was juried into (two of my photographs) the "Seeing Red" art show at Soulard Art Market.
~ Am finally getting new ceiling fans! (the joys of home ownership)
~ Painted an actual painting. I kinda like it. I am normally not pleased with my skills on a canvas.
~ Saved a snake's life. No joke. Poor thing.
~ Saw Lily Tomlin (comedian) live in St. Louis with my mom.
~ Made my dad smile big on Father's Day with his gifts and my presence.
~ I am in the running with my name suggestions for some new Yosemite National Park pack mules. I like naming contests. I hope I win. In the past I have named a sandwich and a boat, adding pack mules to the list would be STELLAR.
~ Camped and did a few trails in Southern Illinois with my daughter. It was just the two of us for some "bonding" time. We had quite the road trip.
~ I had a listener hour where I picked every song played on Planet Radio. It's a classic rock internet radio station. Very cool stuff if you are ever interested: http://www.planetradio.us
~ Was able to wish my Grandma (my daughter's "Grandma the Great") a VERY Happy Birthday.
~ Had some quality time catching up with friends I hardly get to see during the school year, no offense kiddos but from August to May I spend way more time with you than my buddies. As much as I love you, I kinda miss them!
~ Got a sunburn. Was it a highlight? IDK, but I was starting to fear I'd end up in the hospital because it was pretty bad, but I ended up not needing medical attention...THAT is a silver lining!
~ Found a fun show to binge watch on Netflix with my momma. Since I have Netflix and she doesn't, it gets her here to visit with me.
~ Went to my first Art in the Park in Columbia, Mo.
~ I just started reading my second Bill Bryson book. Summer is my time to actually read for FUN and not for work.
~ Have made some great connections and plans for next school year for BJJTV. Some of which are improvements to this website and how it flows (and how you navigate it), which some of you may have already noticed.
~ Am attacking my HUGE amount of digital images I need to process for my family, friends, and for the art galleries/shows, etc. I participate in.
~ Paid off my house insurance. It's not due again till June 2016. THAT is another perk of adulthood, but not having to mess with it again for a year, is HUGE.
~ I rarely have set an alarm clock. I totally love my career except for that problem. Why can't school start at 11 and go to like 5 or 6? Hmmmm? I know, I am radical!
That's just a bit of the first month "off" and I know that July looks to be just as interesting, if not MORE.
SNEAK PEEK: I am going to photograph and visit Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons for the first time in July. Normally, I am a Yosemite gal, but I am branching out this summer!
Until next time,
PS I am with Morgan when she blogged about GETTING OUT. Even if you aren't able to get out of Franklin County, you can at least get out of your house. Go explore. Take your phone and/or camera and click some pics of the beauty around you. You won't regret it! Believe it or not, below is an iPhone photo I took on Reelfoot Lake in the boat. I used a cool app called SnapSeed to lightly HDR it and up the contrast a little.
After nearly 20 years of dying my graying hair, on my 40th birthday I said "enough is enough" and stopped. I am now going on a year and a half of being dye free. The white, gray, and brown streaks are coming in nicely. Yet, some of the comments I hear are not so nice.
I've had people tell me they can't understand why I am doing this. Even when I explain how much money I have saved and what I have been able to do with that money (a new camera body for starters!), they still do not understand.
"I can't grow old gracefully, like YOU."
"I don't like it."
"You look too old like this."
"Wow, you're brave."
I can handle the odd comments and critiques more than hearing that I am brave for letting my hair be its natural color. I think we all need to take a step back and ponder bravery. I am tired of hearing someone is brave for being who they are. I see bravery as running into a burning building to save someone, or being on the front line of war to defend your country. Those acts are brave. Allowing yourself to simply be YOU is not necessarily brave.
Think about it. Since when is hair color tied with bravery? Wake up, America, and figure out that physical appearance isn't an act of valor.
Until next time,
Well, I am the 2015 Missouri Journalism Teacher of the Year and co-winner of the Taft Award for the Missouri Interscholastic Press Association. That, combined with last spring's JEA Broadcast Teacher honor, is a bit "odd" for me. As I joked with some friends this week, it's nice to see my name on things that I am not buried under. Because, let's face it, at 41 I am hopeful I have at least 41 to 60 more years left to piddle around on this planet.
On Friday two sweet Yearbook ladies came over to interview me about it. They asked the "right" question (in Journalism that's the key - asking the right question!) and I felt weepy. Long story short, this is a long version of what I had to say to those ladies, and now to anyone willing to read this blog entry.
One of my students recently produced a story about young moms. One of the girls interviewed openly talked about the ridicule and comments she's faced at school and in other places in her life. It cut me deeply. Was I a young mother, no. However, I am very close to a woman who was and still is by all regards a young mother.
I watched my mom starting at a very young age put her wants and needs on hold for my betterment. She didn't push me off on to her parents or other people to raise me while she chased collegiate dreams or parties. While other kids were out having a blast on their 21st Birthday, she was probably knee-deep with three-year-old me begging for attention, Captain Kangaroo, and mac-n-cheese.
My mother would put off things like appliance purchases to put a saxophone in my hands, She'd skip trading in her car to offset the costs of a new one so that I would have a set of wheels when the time came. When it came to being selfless, she 99.9% of the time was. However, I always knew there was an expectation upon me not to waste all that she had given up to raise me UP and above any situation we faced.
While I was far from a really studious student in my younger years, once college hit I was a new woman. I took every class as seriously as possible. I never changed my major. I never failed a course. The ONE course I had to drop, I was a wreck because I felt I had failed her and wasted her money, but I knew I wasn't going to make it if I stayed enrolled. It was totally over my head despite the multiple tutors I hired. I watched all these people around me dropping classes (paying for a class they weren't finishing!) and changing majors, I couldn't understand how they could waste their parent's money and time like that.
While many of my classmates and sorority sisters were out on weeknights, I often wouldn't. I tried to stick to "going out" on the weekends. To say I was almost obsessive to graduate in four years with at least a B average would be an understatement.
The same obsession started in my job hunt, then my career, and also my Graduate School experience (a 4.0 finally, by the way). I always felt this need to not let all those things my mom had given up go to waste.
So now, as I told those young women who interviewed me for the Yearbook, I almost wish I could take my name off any "awards" I get and replace it with my mom's name. I am who I am not just because she chose to have me, but because she chose to RAISE me. I am who I am today because of every minute of energy she poured into me, every arguement we had, every chore she gave, everything she put off in her life to give me more, every laugh we have shared, and every thing she is.
Back to that girl my student interviewed about being a young mom... I was thinking of her so much and then ran into her in the hallway a few weeks ago. I had to hug her. I had to tell her it'll be ok. You keep being a good mom to your child and it will all be ok. I told her I know from personal experience that the road may be rough, but the outcome can be amazing.
So, for now in my heart the 2015 Missouri State Journalism Teacher of the Year isn't Michelle Turner... it's a beautiful young woman named Susan.
Enjoy this moment, mom. You've more than earned it. Consider each letter of this a clap that builds to a standing ovation for you... as a few of my tears of thankfulness hit the keyboard.
I love you, mom.
Half of new teachers in America quit within five years. The studies do not paint a pretty picture.
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,
I have noticed an interesting (and annoying) trend in our society. There are more and more people chugging their fancy coffees and teas... and BASHING us soda drinkers.
I admit it, soda sure ain't the greatest "habit" to have. Water makes way more sense, and I actually do chug way more H20 most days than I do "liquid gold" (aka SunDrop).
Yes, I know that my calorie-filled, sugar-laden drink of choice is not good for me, and that is why I dropped consumption way back. I was having anywhere from 3 to 5 a day, but now most days (when I am teaching) I have one or two cans. That's a HUGE decrease in my SunDrop consumption. When I am not in the classroom, and not forced to get up earlier than my body prefers, I can go days (sometimes over a week!) without it.
With that all said, why some folks still fill the need to toss out all the "facts" about the certain death I will face drinking soda does nothing to make me want to quit. Inboxing me graphics that outline my toothless future and brittle bones, compounded with the reason I am so chunky MUST be the SunDrop... that doesn't make me wanna quit either. (By the way, the "roundness" could be due to my lack of regular exercise and my love of all things FOOD, folks. Ponder it!)
Even more recently, when people tell me they believe (as most Americans now do according to surveys) that sugar is more dangerous than a joint... well, when people tell me that, it doesn't make me want to ditch my SunDrop. It actually makes me laugh. I am fairly certain my SunDrop love is not anywhere as dangerous as lighting up to get high constantly. Unlike drugs, SunDrop has yet to damage my relationships, my ability to perform my duties as a mom and teacher, and so on.
The irony is a lot of people of all ages and walks of life who have felt the urge to inform me of how bad soda is are far from perfect. I have watched them use all kinds of artificial sweeteners and strange factory-created flavor enhancements in coffees, teas, etc. I don't try to convince them they are killing themselves. I figure they must like that junk and let them be... that is until recently.
That's right, as of today I am declaring I will no longer be bullied, ridiculed, or treated like a second-class citizen for having my soda.
- SunDrop is my golden rays of sunshine in the morning (even on those gray mornings).
- I like it. It tastes great.
- Put it over ice if ya wanna "dress it up" or just go straight from the can or bottle.
- I don't drink gallons of it by the hour. I still consume more water than any beverage on most days.
- It gets me through the work day. Face it kids, you want me on SunDrop!
- My love of it has no dangerous impact upon anyone around me. I've yet to go on a SunDrop binge and harm those I love in acts of rage. Never have I been so into the SunDrop that I have passed out across my desk unsure of where I am and why I am in Missouri when I really should be in Kashmir.
Let's face it, someday when all these coffee-crazed folks find out a lot of what they are chugging may end up causing health issues, I really don't think they would want someone treating them the way people have been treating me. So odds are people will be kinder, unless some site like UpWorthy can create a cool infographic that people believe and NBC does a poll that shows people find LSD safer than MochaLatteFrappeChuLuFrozenIceParticle. <-- Yes, I made that up. Blame it on the SunDrop.
Originally posted on the Academy of Scholastic Broadcast blog on March 3, 2014
Another day. Another question. That same annoying question. Yes, I am once again asked to describe my studio set up, equipment available, and what not.
Seriously? Of ALL the things to pick my brain about after 16 years of teaching Broadcast, THAT is the question I am most often asked?
More and more in the gizmo gadgetry high-tech world, all Broadcast teachers seem to want to talk about is the equipment, the technology, the budget, the this, the that... and I find myself utterly annoyed.
What do I want to discuss?
I want to talk about finding good stories. I want to discuss dealing with hurdles like trying to promote a JOURNALISM class and not a Public Relations course (seems like once video gets involved, it's all about "PR"). I want to talk about how to recruit and retain strong students. I want to discuss which story was the most challenging for your students to tell and how did they rise (or fall) to occasion. I want to talk about how to really drive home the importance of strong visuals and NAT sound. I want to talk about the process not the gadgets.
I know that cameras, and lighting systems, and these things called TriCasters apparently really matter to a lot of folks, but in the end I can honestly say not one of my former students who now work in Television, Radio, Advertising, and (yes, I dare say it) Public Relations go on and on about how their education was horrid by not having a digital-set or a teleprompter.
What my former students go on and on about are these things: they learned to find good characters and dig deep into topics that they found a passion for while reporting on them; writing is important; and being honest in your reporting is critical. Good stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end... and often it is really hard to do that attention-getting opening, and the end can be just as much of a challenge. They go on and on about the stories, the characters, the lessons learned in and out of the edit bay while constructing the story, and more. They rarely bring up what computer was used or video camera make/model.
Our lower thirds stink. I admit it. We can't use a green screen to talk in front of a graphic about the Polar Vortex. I know that's true. So what? We try and try again and again to find memorable characters, tell strong compelling stories, and create a television show that people feel was worth their time to watch. Do we always succeed? No. But when we do pull that all off, it's a feeling like no other.
So, all these discussions, forums, applications, and forms that constantly ask about budgets, equipment, and studio set up (what's a studio? I have a classroom!), slightly get on my nerves.Isn't it time to ditch those questions and go a little "old school" and get back to basics in Broadcast? Did Edward Murrow need all those graphics to report? Do people even remember who Edward Murrow was? Do our students know who he was? Let's talk about that next time we gather around to talk shop. Please. Maybe I'll be the only one excited to jump in the conversation...but maybe I won't.
This was originally published on JEA Digital Media (by me!) on Sept 3, 2014
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.
Starting year 24 as a Journalism educator. Photographer. Mom. Daughter. Nature-Junkie. Super Fan of Missouri State Parks and Conservation Lands. Plotting a nomad retirement, but enjoy homeownership. Contradiction is my middle name.