I just watched the hilarious Jim Carey comedy “Yes Man” the other day and I enjoyed both the humor and its message. The moral of the story is that until you open yourself up to new experiences and help other people, you will never be happy. I think this is true both personally and professionally.
I know that as a professional teacher, I have found many of my most fulfilling experiences in doing things that are not in my job description. Many times it has come from things that others asked me to do, or help them with. Sometimes I did it with both trepidation and even outright loathing of the task. But often, when I saw how great the need was, I was caught like a trout on a hook.
But like the Yes Man of the movie, there are times when you have to learn to say no. Many people in my school who I have helped, know not to ask me for stuff when the yearbook deadline nears. It just isn’t sane or possible for me to help anyone as that last deadline rears its ugly head. It is too much work all at once. Nothing else can even enter my mind.
But afterwards, there is nothing but time to help others. I have worked with our athletic director to take team photos for their calendar. My students help to produce the dance department’s spring show. I’m glad to help make posters and fliers or web banners. We make videos for various clubs and organizations. As long as we have a reasonable amount of time and are given a chance to showcase my student’s abilities, I don’t mind helping out.
In the end, it has earned my students a lot of opportunities to work on projects that are more PR based or even general entertainment. It has also earned us a lot of free food, thank you cards and notes and the good will of more than one teacher who previously wouldn’t give my kids an interview. Sometimes it is these perks that draw students into the program too. They see the cameras at a public performance and start thinking, “I want to do that.”
Sometimes journalism teachers need to remember that they are part of another community – education. We are teachers, not just journalists. We need to see the possibilities for what they are, not what we wish they were. Be open to helping others, especially when there is no compelling reason not to. Sometimes be open to helping others when it is not always the best time. Don’t let it stop you from doing your primary job, but sometimes saying yes is exactly the right thing to do. You never know when it will open a door.