Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Easier Said Than Done

"You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

That Eleanor Roosevelt quote, however it actually goes, is a favorite of mine and one that I find particularly applicable to teaching and learning.

But lemme tell ya - the attempt? It's terrifying!

Y'see, it can be quite difficult to tell the difference between "the thing you think you cannot do" and "the thing you actually cannot do." So as you're doing this Thing, whatever it is, you're hoping and praying that you won't wind up blown to Kingdom Come.

Well, I have returned from several days at Yearbook Camp with the Yearbook Gremlins. As far as I can tell, we survived any and all explosions. Yey!

Example: Several of the Gremlins participated in a photography seminar. At the first break, I asked what they had learned. Response: "We NEED better cameras!" Because, of course, better cameras will automagically mean better pictures.


Yet at the end of the conference when they handed out awards for the competitions (photography and design), one of our students was awarded first place for one of her photos. And her camera was the most basic of the bunch - a digital point-and-shoot about the size of a deck of cards!

So, that was definitely a Teachable Moment. I emphasized to them that when they understand the capabilities and limitations of the cameras they already have, they will be able to work within those boundaries to create amazing photographs. (I probably should've told them that more expensive cameras would just mean more work trying to figure out all the kinks!)

At any rate, no one was injured. They created a cover design that they love. They came up with some great ideas for marketing and increasing coverage. They're excited about the theme and are looking forward to hard work! (Gasp!)

But most importantly, they have become a team.

When it's over, there is an incredible rush. Accomplishment mingles with relief, and I'm not sure which is stronger. I don't think it matters, though, because either way, it's a good feeling.


cupcake said...

Which yearbook company do you use?

I went solo to the camp this year because (a) I didn't know any better, (b) I don't know my staff and (c) I wanted to be ALONE, for goodness sakes. But I hope to bring at least two next year, because the kids really seemed to get a lot out of it.

Good for you for forging a team. You realize, don't you, that I will be crying on your shoulder all year long??

Clix said...

We use Herff Jones. However, they canned the sales rep who started at the same time as I did, so I have ZERO loyalty to the company. We've got two more years (this year and next year) on a computer contract, but as soon as that runs out, I will be negotiating pretty hard and looking at other companies.

I have a bit of crying to do myself... I seem to have lost the unit plans that I worked so frikcin' hard on at the end of last year. Possibly with the list of which assignments go with what deadlines - though I made the students copy that down, so I should (hopefully!) be able to get it back from them. Doesn't look good, though. ;p

Also? This is the first year I've had any staff willing to give that much summer time to the book.

Which company do you use?

cupcake said...

Walsworth. So far, so good with them. My sales rep is wonderful - love her. She's been a lot of help, and is coming to sit with me and go over budgets, ladders, and even sift through all of the junk I was given to see what stays and what goes.

We have a year left on our contract with them, and to keep us, they offered to buy us a camera. I'm inclined to stick with them, although I'll tell ya that I've heard great things about Jostens.

For now, though, we're sticking with Waslworth. They've done all right by me so far.

As for lesson plans? I have not written ONE. Just the thought gives me the shivers. It's as if I have this massive writer's block or something. I know what I want to cover the first week - ad sales, theme, color, etc. - but the process of organizing it and writing it down is something I just cannot achieve at the moment.

I'm weird that way.

Clix said...

See if Walsworth has a curriculum you could look at. Herff Jones does, but I don't use it. Also, if you're thinking about switching, be sure to check with other advisers IN YOUR LOCALE about the companies. We had Jostens at my high school and it seemed to go fine (though what did I know!), but when I talked to a previous yearbook adviser from this school, she said she'd tried them and they weren't all that great.

I actually found my notes - I'd left them here at the school in my filing cabinet, probably so I wouldn't lose them at home! If you'd like, once I get them organized, I can show them to you.

cupcake said...

Walsworth does have a curriculum. I went through it and didn't love it. I have a feeling I'll create what I need the way I want it.

I would LOVE to see whatever you have.

How did you do ad sales? (I probably should email you all of this - I know you gave me your email address.) Did your kids go out or make phone calls or both?

Clix said...

We did phone calls. I did a LOT of the follow-up. This year I'm working on getting permission to have the senior editor leave school during the class period to run errands (such as taking contracts by). We'll also be meeting after school, so he can do some of that then. At the after-school meetings, I want to make sure he takes an underclassman with him as a learning opportunity.

I'm also offering a commission - students can dictate how 20% of their ad sales are spent (new equipment, cool stuff for their senior book, comfy computer chairs, etc.) as long as it's spent on stuff that stays with Journalism.

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