After teaching for 16 years, it is easy to think you know it all. As a journalism adviser, that means I sometimes find myself in a rut looking for new professional development opportunities. Thankfully the Journalism Education Association (JEA) offers incredible opportunities for scholastic journalism advisers. I recently had the opportunity to attend the JEA Advisers Institute (JEAai) held in New Orleans July 5-8.
JEAai offered both an in-person and online supplement option for their 2021 workshop. Those who attended in person were also given access to dozens of recorded presentations from scholastic journalism professionals around the world. The best perk to the in-person option was the team storytelling experience.
After spending a full day in breakout sessions with topics including coaching writers, refreshing your online news presence, photography and design skills, and inspiring your student staff, small groups descended on the city to tell stories. Team storytelling puts the adviser in the shoes of their students. We pitched story ideas and determined who we would need to interview and where we would need to be. We went out prepared with interview questions and spoke to strangers on the streets. Finally, we returned to our workspaces and created content to be published.
We were encouraged to use the tools we ask our students to use as well as learning new tools. We used the Otter.ai app for recording and transcribing interviews and DSLRs and cell phone cameras to capture photo and video. We compliled our work using Adobe Spark, Wakelet and WordPress to publish.
I've participated in a lot of professional development and I can say, without doubt, that JEAai was the best PD opportunity I've ever experienced. We often forget what it is like to be in the shoes of our students. Interviewing strangers is scary! Writing something to be published for the world to see is scary! Being reminded of the feelings experienced when we ask our students to go out and talk to people helps us to become more empathetic towards our students and help coach them through the process.
Below you can see examples of our work.