Embracing Failure; Not Just a Lesson for My Students

January 20, 2019
I like a failure in the classroom - not in the newsroom. In college you try, fail, learn, repeat. Fail in college instead of failing out there.
Over the years I've created controlled-failure scenarios — lessons explicitly designed for a high failure rate. Yes, I manipulate failure for motivational reasons. From these scenarios students can learn from failure, acknowledge problems and improve the process for the next time. The majority of my students initially hate the lesson, but when it's done they find value in the method. They learn it's ok to fail so they can learn from it.

I do hope student don't feel deceived by any of my exercises. The students are the very reason I teach. I know some become discouraged, and most I help climb out of the despair—except when I don't.

There are always moments I notice students not living up to their unrealized existence. That's what I'm here for—except when I'm not. 

Time to admit my failure. Time to acknowledge a problem. Time to improve my process. 

You see I've failed a few students, not a lot, but a few. They weren't meeting my expectations, so I lowered my expectations. They didn't give it their all, so I didn't give it my all. Did I want them to fail—and drop out? It indeed does appear neither the student nor the teacher made best efforts to succeed. We both lacked motivation. I have to ask myself, did I communicate my low expectations to the student without realizing it? 

I'm taking a Motivation in Education class. My textbook, Motivating Students to Learn, has a chapter on Rebuilding Discouraged Students' Confidence and Willingness to Learn. There is a quote at the beginning, "If the goal is maximum performance from all students, the schools must provide hope to all students that increased effort can result in success."

I didn't provide hope to all students. What's worse, they likely saw their outcome as hopeless. My job is to motivate students to learn, not push them not to learn.  When patience and encouragement were needed, I was intolerant and despondent.  

I knew the student wasn't doing well. They weren't learning; they were failing. Did I criticize failure more than praising success? Did I appreciate the student less often on success? Did I interact less, sometimes just avoid interaction all together? The answer is yes. I failed to motivate a student to learn. Now what?

Now it's time for me to learn from my failure like I expect my students to do. I know I'll likely instruct low achievers in future classes which means I need to plan my approach and be aware of how I am interacting to make sure I'm not communicating low expectations. Instead, I'll give them more of my time. I will praise more often and look to provide positive, constructive feedback, especially in public.  I'll invest my time with more interaction.  I will demand more of them, and more of myself. 
While I welcome failure as a teaching tool for my students and myself, I refuse to fail at motivating my students.

Freewrite for students initial thoughts on a class

January 8, 2019

It’s not hard to write, right? We all know words. We're not all sure what order to put words in sometimes. Writing, that’s easy. Editing, that’s hard. I’m trying to polish this very write with elegance.

This semester, I’m teaching media writing. Student will write, a lot. Did I mention they’ll write, a lot? For many, it’s their first opportunity with a media-focused curriculum. I want to know what they’re thinking before we got started. So, if had them write about it. I asked t...

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Their Journey into Writing Begins with Schoolhouse Rock

January 10, 2017

I'm creating visual storytellers.  They learn to shoot.  They learn to edit.  Today, they began their writing career.  Just so we are all on the same page, I wanna make sure everyone understands basic sentence structure.  Subject, predicate, nouns, verbs are basic tools in writing.  Adverbs add spice to sentences. Adverbs are more enjoyable after learning about them from Schoolhouse Rock.

That's right.  I play 'Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Adverbs Here,' in my class.  After that, we do some si...
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The Interview Process and Employment Strategies

December 19, 2016

Why are my students looking so dapper on this day? They've just been through the interview process. My student in the Video Production & Editing Program at Emily Griffith stop producing video for a week.  During this non-production week, they focus on employment strategies. These students are learning vital skills now even though they don't graduate for 7 months. Why?
  • They'll be better prepared for internship opportunities since they have a cover letter and resume ready
  • They'll have the next 7 ...

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Bringing In Former Students as Presenter

December 13, 2016

Do you call on former students as guest presenters? I do.
Do you ask your best and brightest to come
back and share their insight?  I do.  
Do you ask those student that didn't listen, didn't pay attention, didn't perform up to expectations to present? I do.

Anthony Lujan graduated from the Video Production & Editing Program two years ago. This is a profile video his fellow students produced about him in the program.

Anthony is a bright individual.  He simply didn't give it his all while he ...
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Their Journey, just 12 Weeks Old

November 8, 2016
My students are on a journey, I'm simply a guide. We are 12 weeks into the Video Production & Editing Program at Emily Griffith Technical College. The 1st video project student produce is a silent movie. They complete this project after the 6th week. I don't want them worried about gathering sound.  During this 1st project they focus on;

  1. Telling a simple story with a conflict
  2. Aperture, white balance & focus techniques with the camera
  3. Shooting 3-shot sequences with variety (wide, medium & tight)
  4. E...

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Get Them Out of the Building and to a Career Day Early

October 12, 2016
I want my students networking.  I want them learning outside the classroom.  At the NATAS Career Fair they got a chance to both of those vital elements.  I think it's important for them to hear what I say repeated by industry professionals.  It's intriguing that once they here it from them, then they realize what I'm saying is valuable.

Some may wait until students are near the end of their students lives to participate in a career day.  I say get them there as soon as possible.  I push them, ...
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Watch for Mistakes and Then...

October 4, 2016
My goal is to lecture as little as possible this year.  I want to give them just enough information to get out and experience learning.  Today they started their journey into using wireless microphones and capturing relevant natural sound. I walked around, observing as they shot video.  When I saw something I felt would improve them immediately I made a suggestion.

Here's a little video about today.

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They Collaborate Some, Then Collaborate Some More, Then Collaborate Some More

October 3, 2016
l get my class into groups often.  I want them knowing each other as well as possible.  I want them collaborating as much as possible.  Today's class is Intro to Documentary Storytelling.  Of course we watch compelling documentaries.  Today, we watched several short-form documentaries.  In class we discussed the research, planning and approach they could use in producing their intro documentary.

After we watched several of these short-form documentaries I have them get together in teams and co...

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Give Them a Critique Before They finish the Project

September 28, 2016
I'm giving my student the best chance to succeed.  Their 1st project for a grade is a silent movie. Though they have shot several practice movies, this is their 1st real attempt at putting everything together they've learned into a project.

Once they've completed shooting their movies we then spend an entire class critique their raw video. I ask them to export 20 clips that showcase there story.  No editing, just the 20 clips on a timeline and export.

We, as a class look at all the raw video. I...

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