Back in the saddle

January 16, 2012

Last week I began my 15th year as journalism instructor at Cerritos College.

Wow, 14 full years down. I spent 16.5 at my last job at West Valley College and 4.5 years as an adjunct at Reedley and Merced colleges before that. Even with my math-challenged journalism major I know that adds up to 35 full years of advising student publications.

I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t gotten a bit tedious from time to time. But I still find it exciting as well.

And if last week is any indication, I still work too hard. It sure feels like I worked at least two full weeks last week alone. The first week of a new semester is always a zoo. I often say that one of the best parts of teaching college is the opportunity to start all over again at least two or three times a year. Even if you have returning students in your classes you have new chemistry among them and the start of new semester is a good time to set or renew goals. Here are some of mine for this semester:

  • Having just completed my fifth major program review in my career, I am painfully aware that one of my weak areas is in my mass comm survey course. Far too many students fail that class, whether in the traditional class or the online class. I need to intervene sooner when students are lagging and see if I can improve their success rates. I have a colleague who argues that it is up to the students, not the instructors, to improve success rates (i.e., passing the class). Ultimately, yes, but it is up to the instructor to set an atmosphere of success.
  • On the newspaper class we have certainly expanded what we do each semester. See my last post in May for details on that. This semester I hope we can move our weekly radio show and the audio files we attach to stories as more NPR-like. Ultimately, I would like to make the radio show irrelevant; we should be creating the audio stories and posting them alongside the text stories and the radio show should simply be another way to use that content. Right now it is the radio show that drives the producing of audio content.
  • I also hope that we can use our social media tools more effectively with the newspaper. I have already started contacting students as their stories get posted to our talonmarks.com website and suggesting that they “like” their own stories.
  • We’ve made strides over the years of posting online first and print second, but print still lingers too heavily in the minds of students as to when they produce their content.
  • I’d like to put more effort into making sure students don’t stay on Talon Marks too long. I like them staying two or three semesters, but not at the expense of them failing to progress in their goal of graduating or transferring to a four-year university.

I am curious what other journalism teachers’ goals are for the new semester.

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