What a Workshop Director Learned This Year


I have been hosting the week-long ASB Workshop for scholastic broadcast teachers since the summer of 2000.  It is a national workshop.  Teachers have come from 48 states to Hillcrest High School in Springfield, MO since our modest beginning all those years ago.  Last week, 14 states were represented, from Washington to Florida, from Massachusetts to Texas.

We provide information in the morning, hands-on exercises and assignments after lunch.  The workshop has been called “intense,” “challenging,” and “exhausting” by past attendees.  But many of them come back for more, so we must be getting something right.

This blog, however, is not about what we teach at the workshop.  It is about what I learned this year as I worked with and observed 27 teachers.  

In no particular order, here are my “Lessons Learned” from 2015

*The equipment disparity in scholastic broadcasting is huge.  Some teachers have more than they need, some have barely enough for a class of six.  

*Focusing on storytelling, no matter what gear you use, simplifies things and leads to some great journalism.

*We teach from failure every day in broadcast classes.  So a concept I really liked when I heard it presented by Brian Shipman from Drury University was “fail faster.”  In other words, move on from whatever didn’t work on the last story, and get on to the next one.  Remember your mistakes, and avoid repeating them.  Just fail faster.  

*Few of us are totally confident in the way we are grading broadcast classes.  Grading presents a lot of variables, and a lot of challenges.  

*We made teachers work in groups on the first day, groups we arbitrarily chose.  It was a reminder that we do this to kids all the time.  Should we?

*There is more than one way to tell a video story, but learning to use natural sound makes all the difference.  

*Audio problems are more difficult to overcome than video problems, but nothing you do in the edit process works better than getting things right during the actual shoot.

*Teachers are just grown up students.  They love learning new things, seeing new things, doing new things.  That is why summer workshops can be so important.

Final Thought:  We spent very little time discussing devices, software or apps.  It is not that kind of workshop.  We spent a lot of time talking about content, journalism, story gathering, and story telling.  I can’t wait to see the great things produced at the schools represented by the 27 teachers who attended this year’s workshop.