Have you ever had a mind-numbing fear? One that causes you to break out in hives, profusely sweat, and jumble your words?
I have. And it was the fear of speaking in front of kids…especially those at the middle school level.
Middle school kids are a different breed than elementary and high school students. They are old enough to criticize, are all taller than most adults (myself included) and have the ability to stare blankly into space yet somehow pay attention when they are called on in class.
So partly in order to get over my fear, but mostly to help out a friend, I decided to speak to Mr. Larson’s 8th grade communications class at North Polk Middle School a few weeks ago about what goes on in the newsroom.
Although I was nervous walking into the classroom, my fears soon dissipated and the students immediately welcomed me. Each question I asked, they would quickly respond back to me. They also seemed genuinely interested in journalism and how stories are generally written. Throughout the 45 minute presentation, we discussed the inverted pyramid, how to write an interesting leads, story ideas and how to meet deadlines.
They also were able to ask me questions after the presentation including what were my favorite stories, what I’ve learned as a journalist, if I’ve ever missed a deadline and how programs like InDesign and Photoshop work.
I reinforced to the students that my job may be different than other journalists due to the variety of hats that I wear on a daily basis. I’m not just a reporter, but a photographer, designer, and editor. We also discussed the importance of technology and how social media is changing the face of traditional print journalism.
At the end of the day, the students were asked to write down three things they learned and three things they would like to see incorporated into their own classroom. Since my visit, I’ve learned that Mr. Larson’s class is doing some of the ideas including acquiring InDesign and using Twitter as well as their website to put breaking-news stories and other ongoing school events.
Not only did the students understand a little bit about journalism during my visit, but they had a willingness to learn more about my profession.
Overall, It was refreshing to see such a kind group of students, and I can’t wait to see what kind of projects they have in store this school year.
Many thanks to Mr. Larson and his great group of students.