Meta-Teaching: Thinking About Your Teaching

Lately, I have been thinking about my teaching a lot.  And I think that I have not been as good a teacher as I could have been.  I’ve gotten lazy and complacent.  This came to me after spending a week at the ASNE Reynolds Institute for High School Journalism.  This was a great experience for me as an educator.  It was a wake up call and I needed it!

I’ve been lazy.  I’ve just been coasting and for my students that is too bad.  I’m not saying that they didn’t learn, but they could have learned more.  So, this summer, I’m spending my time revamping my curriculum – espeically for those subjects that I don’t always give my 100 percent attention once the school year gets going.  My production classes take up a lot of time – broadcast journalism, yearbook and now newspaper.  So, I need to have really good materials and curriculum in place before school starts.

As a part of this, I’ve created a new tab on the front page of my web site.  It has my syllabus for my photojournalism class.  I will keep updating it as I improve my materials and post them to Mediafire.  Feel free to use them if you are a classroom teacher or a journalism student.


  1. It sounds like you have a fairly varied list. What are all the courses you teach – newspaper, broadcast, yearbook, photojournalism… and? What sort of schedule does your school use?

  2. I teach seven subjects on a modified 7-period day. We have six periods every day and two classes on an alternating block. (Day 1: 1-2-3-4-5A-6-7 Day 2: 1-2-3-4-5B-6-7) I teach seven subjects because we can’t afford a second teaching unit for journalism. We only have about 120 teachers for 1700 students. I teach yearbook, newspaper, desktop publishing, photojournalism, video production, broadcast journalism and web design. So I never teach the same thing twice in one day. When I started teaching, I only had four preps, but as the years have gone by journalism has gotten more diversified and technology has gotten cheaper.

  3. That schedule is amazing. I personally don’t know how you do it. I’m guessing you may have good kids who don’t have a lot of issues such as poverty, poor test scores, failing core classes? I don’t know how you would juggle all those issues, otherwise. When I have a really bright group in yearbook, my life is easier, but that rarely happens. Our top students (who are very few in number) have no room for electives.

  4. I have all of those issues. We are a Title I school, 73% qualify as low economic, we have just good enough test scores on the state test to get by, and a small number of my students fail one or more core subject. And top 10 percent kids don’t have room for non-AP electives. It is really about being prepared and flexible. I honestly hate teaching the same subject more then two periods a day. I can never keep multiple classes on the same page of my plan book and I get bored teaching the same lesson too many times in one day.

  5. It’s neat, though, that you can make each class unique! Our journalism course is a single class period, which has its pros and cons – I get to introduce students to concepts and skills they might not otherwise delve into (pro), and they fight me on it because it’s not what they’re already familiar with and interested in (con). 😉

    How do you come up with the photos to use for the yearbook, and what publisher do you use (if I may ask)? I’ve got about a blue bazillion questions, but I don’t want to inundate you. Lemme know before I get to the ‘pest’ stage!

  6. I sent you an email to your yahoo account, email me back and I’d be happy to discuss it all off-blog so it doesn’t clog up this post with off topic discussion. If you lost the email, reply here and I’ll send you another one.

  7. Hey, don’t beat yourself up so much. Teaching is like a marathon, you have to pace yourself. Many times I think about how I teach, and I usually come with a solution: more time. If I only had more time I could do more/be better etc. I think your term “lazy” is more likely “tired”.

    I think it’s best to make small changes. Making small changes has improved my teaching by finding ways to work smarted, not harder. Nice blog.

  8. Thanks Kevin! I think you are right about tired. But I also learned so much at Arizona State, I know wish I had attended a first tier university – so my students could benefit from it.

  9. THANK YOU for posting your PJ syllabus!! I am going on my third year as a photojournalism teacher/yearbook advisor. This year, I’m adding an intro to photojournalism class as well as a yearbook production class and am looking at all the holes in the current curriculum that occur because I get so focused on putting out the book.

    Although your schedule sounds quite intense, it’s amazing that your school has those kinds of course offerings. Right now, we have photojournalism, which has traditionally acted as the yearbook class… and that’s about it. I would love to know more about your school’s media curriculum. We are currently considering adding video production, and I wouldn’t want to stop there.

    It seems to me the LAST thing you are is lazy. 🙂 Please continue to share your insights, because they are so helpful to other media teachers such as myself.

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