YLYB #39: The Day Out!

A day away from your classroom is scary for any teacher.  Media teachers have it harder.  There’s a lot of equipment to secure beforehand.  And then there is a lesson to plan.

Unlike teaching a traditional class (I have taught Government and US History), there is no textbook for most journalism or media classes.  This also means no ancillary materials like worksheets for the days when you must have a substitute.  This makes lesson planning for a sick day or workshop that much more difficult.

I did make it back to my class about two minutes before the final bell.  There was no sub in my class last period.  The kids, however, did their work.  I am anxious to see how many periods had a sub.  I was told my sub did not show up during 1st period, but they sent a backup sub to cover during 2nd period.  I guess we’ll see what tales will be told tomorrow.

I do know that the equipment was still right where it was supposed to be and the classroom had not burned to the ground.  So, that by itself is a good thing.

YLYB #38: T3P0 Teacher – Student Relations

Today, I had a student complain about a teacher not letting him interview a student.  So, I emailed the teacher and tried to remind her that the students are only allowed to interview one day a week and that basically she was hurting that student’s grade.

She emailed me back by saying the student needed to be more polite when entering a classroom.  He didn’t follow our established procedure on asking for an interview – at least not according to the teacher.  I will talk to him as soon as possible.

This is just one of the many reasons people don’t want to be a yearbook advisor.  What other teachers have to be negotiators between 17 year olds and adults?  It doesn’t matter how many times you go over the expectations, some of them don’t see, don’t get or don’t care about those expectations.

Tomorrow, I won’t be in my classroom for the first time this year – for a workshop.  We’ll see how the students do without me.

YLYB #37: Pickup Sales

Sales are very slowly starting to pick up.  Maybe it is the constant harping I have been doing on the matter.  My students have finally started to turn in yearbook money.  It just seems like we have been devoting so much time and resources to sales, that our book is going to suffer.

Yearbook is the eternal resource hog.  There is only so much time in a day, so many students on staff and you just can’t do it all photography, design, coverage, and sales.  It seems like when you focus on one aspect, the others suffer.  I guess it is like the old expression good, fast, cheap – pick any two.

YLYB #36: And Then There Were Batteries

It is a good thing too.

Last year we were blessed with brand new Apple iMacs and Adobe software.  We waited a long time to get a lab with all new computers running the same OS and software versions.  But Apple, in their brilliant minds, decided to ditch the cords for mice and keyboards.  Now, I have a love/hate relationship with the wireless, bluetooth ones.  I love them when they work, which is MOST of the time.  But they have two flaws in a lab setting.

1) They are bluetooth.  This is an arcane art, similar to voodoo or druidic magic.  Keeping the keyboards from syncing to another machine accidentally is frustrating at times.

2) They run off AA batteries.  This is similar to how teenagers run off soda and pizza.  It means that we have to keep a supply of the non-eco friendly things around all the time.  I like rechargeable things – iPods, laptops, digital camera batteries, etc.  Why apple didn’t make the stand of the iMac a recharging station for the mouse and keyboard is a mystery.

And then there is the combined issue of 1 and 2 – when the batteries are replaced, the mice lose their minds and try to sync up with any computer that is around.  They like to play the field.  It is frustrating to get them all synced back to their proper workstations.  And the batteries like to fail in a cascade – not all at once.

YLYB #35: Long Days, Longer Nights

Yesterday, I was at work at 6:30 a.m. and didn’t get home until about 10:30 p.m.  Football Fridays mean shooting the game until it ends.  This one was an away game.  There are so many things going on at a football game that you have to have photos.   There is the band, cheerleaders, dance team, trainers, fans and of course the game.

Last year, the staff had two dedicated photographers who shot nearly all the games.  Unfortunately, one of them is now in the flag corps and the other one doesn’t seem as interested in shooting without her pal.  So, we are going to have to find some new blood.  I guess we’ll be training new photogs starting this week.

YLYB #34: Habla Español

I teach in Houston, Texas and I have parents of some students whose English skills are not always very good.  I am sympathetic.  I am the great-grandson of non-English speaking immigrants myself.  I remember my great grandmother’s French (Quebec) accent was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

I often had difficulty understanding her.  This was after she had lived in the US for more than 50 years and had learned to read and speak English.  It was still difficult sometimes.

As a teacher, it can be difficult to communicate with a parent when you don’t speak the same language.  But, I always try to remind myself that America is and always was a country of immigrants.  So, I use my best broken Spanish to communicate with parents who don’t speak English.  Just yesterday, I was calling a parent about her child’s grade.  She started off by saying that she didn’t speak English – so I used my limited skills en Español.   I’m glad that I did, because after doing my best to attempt Spanish, she began to use her limited skills in English.  We were able to communicate and today she came up to the school where she could get a full time translator.

It really made me feel good to be able to help this parent understand what her child needed.  I was also excited that a decent sized number of students showed up for after school tutorials today.  I only wish they wouldn’t wait until nearly the end of the grading period to try to make up their work.

YLYB #33: Half Day and Yearbook Sales

Yearbook sales are starting off slowly.  We have sold a few, and the kids need to get out there and work harder.   With the recession still going strong, I know this will be another tough year, but we increased sales last year.  So, we can do it again this year if they try hard enough.

Today was a half-day at the high schools in my district.  We had the second half of the day to plan and call parents.  I did that and did a lot of catch up work on yearbook receipts and t-shirt sales.  I really hate dealing with money.  I was supposed to be a writer or videographer, not a book keeper or salesman.  So much for what we wanted to do in life.

Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching – I love yearbook – I hate sales.

YLYB #32: Open House

Today was a long day.  We had open house tonight – that made for a super long day (6:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.).  We did sell some yearbooks and t-shirts tonight and we also had some people take a lot of order forms for both.  My students who came to help did a great job.  So, I’m tired and home chilling.  Early morning again tomorrow.

YLYB #31: Missing Out on Photo Ops

We’ve missed two photo ops in the last two days – volleyball game and a blood drive.  We have to do better.  It’s tough because I only have 10 experienced kids right now.  They are working hard, but missing assignments.  I need to crack down on them, but not too hard.  Finding that right amount of toughness is going to be difficult.  They need to know that we can’t keep missing photos, but I don’t want them to shut down or give up.

My kids really need a reward for hard work and then a kick in the pants for missing some assignments.

YLYB #30: No Football

During football season, every Friday night means going to the game and monitoring my shooters – photography and video.  I sometimes shoot with them, but if I have a full crew – let them do the shooting.  But today, I have a day off.  It is so great, it has been four weeks since school started and I need the break.  A calm Friday night at home and maybe even a weekend of chill.

Today our principal spoke to my yearbook/TV news staffs.  I had asked him to do so and I was really happy afterwards.  I think he really hammered home some points I’ve been trying to get them to understand.  This group of kids is very new and has such potential, but so far they are not catching fire about getting sales going.

He also hit all the key points on including kids in the book and being professional when they are in teacher’s classrooms or taking photos in public.  It was time well spent getting them out of class for about 20 minutes to hear him talk to them.