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Empowering student decision-making QT22

Posted by on Oct 18, 2017 in Blog, Ethical Issues, Quick Tips, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

The role of the adviser in student-run media incorporates teacher, coach, counselor, listener and devil’s advocate but not doer. We like the JEA Adviser Code of Ethics as guides for advisers.

That role means letting students make all decisions including content, context and grammar.

One way advisers can help this process is by having a staff manual inclusive of the student media mission statement, policies, guidelines and procedures. The mission statement outlines the overall aim of the student media. Policies are either the board-level or media-level and state the functionality of the student press. Guidelines are the ethical components the student media will work with. The procedures and resources for students to learn how to do something.

 

Guideline:

As per the board-level or media-level policy, students should be empowered to make all content decisions for student media.

Social media post/question:

What do you do in the instance of who should make the content decisions?

Stance:

Students learn best when they are empowered to make their own decisions with support from the adviser on the sideline. A clear understanding of the adviser’s role helps students take ownership of their work and the program overall.

Reasoning/suggestions:

Students should be empowered to make all content decisions for student media. Instead of making the decisions, advisers should advise and ask questions to help the students examine the issue from multiple perspectives and concerns.

One way advisers can help this process is by having a staff manual inclusive of the student media mission statement, policies, guidelines and procedures. The mission statement outlines the overall aim of the student media. Policies are either the board-level or media-level and act as a constitution for the student press. Guidelines are the ethical components the student media will work with. The procedures and resources for students to learn how to do something.

If students know (or can look at what to do) what By already establishing these prior to a problem happening, it’s easier to see what to do when something does happen. (And, it will.) These policies, guidelines and procedures should function as a reference and be complete (preferably) prior to the problem happening. This helps the students (and adviser) work through issues if they do happen.

Resources:

Female High School Students Bear the Burden of Censorship, SPLC

Curing Hazelwood package, SPRC

The Role of Student Media: Foundations Package, SPRC

SPLC resources, SPLC

JEA Adviser Code of Ethics

 

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Learning from the mistakes we make

Posted by on Nov 17, 2013 in Blog, Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Tom Gayda
“(Journalism) kids have rights. They have the right to be right. They have the right to make mistakes and the right to learn from those mistakes.”

So are the words of this year’s JEA Administrator of the Year—and my principal—Evans Branigan III.

If only more folks in administrative jobs would get behind this philosophy. Just like any students participating in any other activities, mistakes are made. Some mistakes are small, some not-so-small, but it is important educators provide an experience that is real to their students, and a safety net to catch them should they err.

What can we do to get others to live by my principal’s motto? Educate, educate, educate.

When things are calm, meet with your principal and tell them how you’d like to one day see them with the JEA Administrator of the Year award. Share the quote. Talk about the positive things that can happen when a collaborative relationship is built. Don’t let each other assume the relationship has to be contentious. Change the tone if you can.

Too many young advisers—and administrators—assume one can’t trust the other. Not true! It might be necessary to simply change the culture. Start my acknowledging you both want what is best for the kids. Then explain what your goals are. Ask your administrator what he or she expects. If these don’t match up, find the common ground you can build from.

There have been several JEA Administrators of the Year. Each state is honored to have individuals who work hard to ensure students are free to practice what we teach. Let’s celebrate all of these people and share their successes so others who might not be as up to speed have a chance to learn from their peers and see that everything is going to be OK.

Administrators also have the right to make mistakes. It’s up to us to help them correct themselves.

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Blog12: Out of adversity, strength: Hazelwood leads to thoughtful passage of Iowa free expression law

Posted by on Jan 29, 2013 in Blog, Hazelwood, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Jack Kennedy

Hazelwood stories: Random thoughts about the Hazelwood decision:

  1. I was aware of this court case as it developed, unlike the Tinker case. I had been a high school sophomore when the protests in Des Moines were going on in December of 1963. I was 100 miles away, but may as well have been light years away, for all the knowledge I had of what Mary Beth and John and Charles were doing.25 years of Hazelwood art
  2. I was in the protected enclave of Iowa City, and by the late ‘80s the newspaper and yearbook were well-established as progressive voices for a progressive community. The threat from the Hazelwood decision was, for us, less visceral and more philosophical. Iowa City High School was unlikely to change its support of the Tinker standard, and we were blessed with administrators who trusted us to push the boundaries, but to ultimately be about the thinking and writing and coverage that the school had come to value.
  3. Freedom without limits leads to chaos (as we see in America’s love affair with the gun), and the Hazelwood decision led to numerous individual and class discussions about what those limits might be. It occurred to me even then that this decision produced more solid learning about rights and responsibilities, and the role of the student press in the community, than I had seen in years.
  4. I still marvel at how quickly state leaders such as Mary Arnold, then director of the Iowa High School Press Association, and Merle Dieleman, Ann Visser and other Iowa advisers, and an obscure state senator from Solon named Richard Varn not only adapted state statutes from California and Massachusetts and wrote an Iowa law, but pushed it through the legislative process so quickly that Iowa had a law signed by the Republican Governor, Terry Branstad (and yes, he’s back), in roughly one year.
  5. I had a small part in the writing and lobbying, and remember meeting the governor in Des Moines a few months after the law was signed and complimenting him on his support for student free expression. The look on his face was that of surprise that he had actually signed such a bill. I suppose he found himself in that difficult place some lawmakers experience, trying to balance his faith in freedom with his basic distrust of young people and with education in general. Back in 1989, he chose to side with freedom.
  6. Sure, that freedom has some limits, but we can live with those. After the law was passed, the Little Hawk prospered to such an extent that the paper won nine Pacemakers in 10 years. I suspect that the freedom to cover literally any issue, no matter how sensitive, contributed to that success.
  7. Out of adversity grew strength. I hated what Hazelwood represented, and still do, but it was a great reminder that the fight for freedom is never truly over. It needs to be cherished and struggled over, day after day and year after year.

 

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Missouri SB54 a slap at teacher professionalism

Posted by on Aug 21, 2011 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments

by Matt Schott

A slap in the face. And an unexpected one at that.

When I first read SB54, that was my reaction. And not a slap to my First Amendment rights, either, though I believe those rights are threatened by the Amy Hestir Student Protection Act and informs much of the anger over this from journalism educators.

No, to me, this was a slap in the face to my professionalism, my credibility, my trustworthiness.

In any profession, these are the qualities people try to build and nurture. With a swipe of his pen, what Gov. Jay Nixon (and to an extent State Sen. Jane Cunningham, who wrote the bill) did was wipe away those three things which I hold dear. Because what he did was cast teachers into the same category of respect generally reserved for criminals.

SB54 essentially said teachers were not fit to maintain a professional relationship with the students whom they have taken great steps to build and nurture relationships, no matter the medium. While I consider myself to be well-versed in the field of journalism, I consider myself (and most good educators) to be better in the field of connecting with students where they are most comfortable. Good educators work to make sure they have positive relationships with their students. More than anything, it is what makes us good educators.

What Gov. Nixon and Sen. Cunningham have evidently forgotten is that private conversations happen all the time at school. On  Aug. 16, a Tuesday, I had no fewer than six private conversations with students. All of them were about things relating to education. Some were simple, like asking for the definition of a word. Others about projects that have been assigned.

These two public servants obviously don’t know much about the public they serve. They should watch this. Facebook is the most trafficked site on the Internet and high school students have driven that traffic almost since the site’s inception. As it says on the linked video: “We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.”

By seeking to take educators out of the social media equation, Gov. Nixon and Sen. Cunningham have ensured Missouri students will “do social media” worse than students in the rest of the nation.

By seeking to take educators out of the social media equation, by not allowing educators to teach and model what a positive social media presence looks like, Gov. Nixon and Sen. Cunningham have made it that much harder for Missouri students to succeed in the digital marketplace.

By seeking to take educators out of the social media equation, Gov. Nixon and Sen. Cunningham have taken away an avenue – sometimes the only avenue they feel safe in – for troubled students to communicate with someone they trust: their teacher.

Gov. Nixon and Sen. Cunningham did have some successes with this bill, perhaps in spite of themselves.

By seeking to take educators out of the social media equation, Gov. Nixon and Sen. Cunningham have drawn the attention of the nation to the educational practices in our state and shown the nation that they, at least, don’t believe in the job Missouri teachers are doing. Thanks for your support.

By seeking to take educators out of the social media equation, Gov. Nixon and Sen. Cunningham have succeeded in making a difficult job more difficult. Not being able to communicate with trusted students in a medium they feel comfortable in inhibits the learning and success of all students. Thanks for the extra work, we need more of it.

And finally, by seeking to take educators out of the social media equation in Missouri, Gov. Nixon and Sen. Cunningham have angered a very vocal and active political force: educators. Make no mistake, teachers in Missouri are upset (to use a school appropriate word) by this law. Teachers in Missouri are conferring about this law. And soon, very soon, I hope teachers in Missouri will be working with wonderful organizations like the Student Press Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union, to battle and overturn this ill-informed, poorly written and insulting law. You’re welcome. By giving the educators of Missouri a little bit more work to do, we’ll help you learn through experience and hopefully, as you reflect upon this once SB54 is overturned, you’ll have learned something.

All in a day’s work.

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