Journalism Advisers Offer Advice for the New School Year

Schools across America are gearing up for a new year. Both new and experienced journalism advisers are about to set into motion the production of yearbooks, newspapers, websites, television shows, and more.

The first few days and weeks of school help set the pace and tone for journalism staffs. At times, it can seem overwhelming, but here are a few tips to help put your mind at ease.

“You should take the time to build relationships within your class. Establishing a team environment makes your work easier the rest of the year.”
Jane Bannester, Ritenour High School in St. Louis, Missouri

“Start with the basics and teach your students to be good storytellers. Everything else will fall in place!”
Kris Doran, Trumbull Career & Technical Center in Warren, Ohio

“Remember to breathe. Give some responsibilities and ownership to the editors. Don’t be afraid to let the students teach you. The first publication or production won’t be perfect. Remember the kids are still learning the ropes.”
Christina Manolis, Washington High School in Washington, Missouri

“1. Cultivate an atmosphere that is about students as people first. Get to know them and learn what they’re all about before you dive into content and production. When they know they’re valued as individuals they’ll be ready to learn and contribute in more powerful ways. 2. Talk to others! The scholastic journalism community is full of amazing people who are happy to share ideas and resources. Even just hearing how another teacher handles something can be incredibly helpful. Gather as many perspectives as necessary and then decide what will work best in your classroom.”
Sarah Nichols, Whitney High School in Rocklin, California

“Get the gear in their hands early because they are excited about using it, but channel that excitement into something productive like the basics of shooting wide-medium-tight and framing interviews. Build skills and technique before you worry about content.”
Dave Davis, Hillcrest High School in Springfield, Missouri

“It’s all about the family, the team. Work on the relationships in the newsroom first. There will be time to sweat the other stuff later.”
Dan Loving, Maize High School in Maize, Kansas

“Lead your students to masterful storytellers and encourage them to read or view their work as an example of what good journalism looks like. Build relationships with and among your staff early and often. It will be easier to work through the rough spots that naturally occur during the school year. Set expectations high and communicate those to your staff and hold them accountable. Good student journalists become great when they have the bar set high and the support to help them reach it.”
Kara Bell, St. Clair High School in St. Clair, Missouri

“Give deadlines out early. We want to set everyone up for success and to make it easiest on ourselves, so early planning helps for less stress later. Communicate with parents. They are your advocate not your nemesis. Utilize them to help you with food nights, yearbook sales, etc. They want to be a part of the process, but they don’t want to overstep the boundaries. They can be your biggest allies. Use them wisely.”
– Renee Burke, William R. Boone High School in Orlando, Florida