In my six years of teaching, I have learned one hard truth. Beyond displaying a mastery of content, to really reach young people in an increasingly digital age, teachers must make glaringly obvious the usefulness and relevance of their curriculum. Educators must embrace technology— if for no other reason than that students will find a way to remain plugged-in despite out loudest protests. Even the most sophisticated content-filtering servers or handbook guidelines don’t prevent students from accessing desired web content. From smartphones to tethering, open access has become too easy and too tempting.
For obvious reasons, this is certainly a scary proposition that ushers in a myriad of legal and liability concerns. I am not at all blind to those concerns, which deserve serious scrutiny by one much more knowledgeable than I. Neverthess, the openness of technology provides teachers with an even greater responsibility and opportunity to inspire.
Two years ago, my assistant head of school asked me to teach journalism. I agreed, but on the condition that we cease publishing a print edition and move entirely online. We both liked the idea of going green, an effort I am proud to say my school wholeheartedly endorses. In designing The Falconer, my students would learn how to build and maintain a live web site, something most felt passionate about learning. That buy-in, so to speak, earned me increased respect and authority that I drew on to teach traditional news writing.
My students rely upon technology not as a substitute or crutch, but as a tool to produce effective, interesting content. Using a green screen and video-editing software, students pen broadcasts for anchors to read in a virtual newsroom. Students then upload edited content to a video-sharing server before embedding it directly in The Falconer. Camera-shy students also have the option of writing traditional news stories or composing editorial podcasts. Most new content contains an aspect of written journalism, and the multimedia complementing those stories enhances our dynamic approach.
I am tremendously grateful for Sean Murphy, my head of school, who has entrusted me with such great responsibility. Never once has he asked to read an article before publication or requested that my students refrain from producing anything. Given the speed at which the newsroom produces and uploads content, Mr. Murphy, the busiest man on campus, would be even busier. I have, of course, relied upon my better judgment to seek his advice or that of our communication’s department, but only on my own volition. For an online publication to succeed, a school’s administration must feel entirely confident that the advisor will make wise decisions. I am equally grateful for having worked under Jody Weinberg, director of publications and public relations, who made me infinitely more aware of the power of published content.
Thinking back on my time in Ms. Lombardo’s journalism class with David Kazis, ’02, Tomas Byrne ’02, and Ashley Turner ‘04, I am deeply grateful for the trust she imparted to her students. I learned much from her, and I continue to benefit from her lessons every day. I know Brimmer and May students would jump at the chance to run their own news site, as I would have, and I would be honored to help in any way possible.