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How to empower your editors to teach new staff members

As you’re progressing through the first weeks, this is a good time to put the learning and training into the hands of your editors. They can do it! I promise. And they’ll learn so much in the process. Jump in with both feet with them!

While editors don’t have experience teaching or lesson planning, they are a wealth of knowledge and insight. Veterans (returning students) can facilitate learning for newbies with the right combination of preparation and support. 

Buddy system

When it comes to preparing students for photo events, have your returners mentor and coach them through their first event. No student should attend their first event without a buddy. The same goes for interviews. As veterans leave to do these tasks, send a newbie or two with them. This is an invaluable experience for a first year student. 

Procedures, ethics, contracts, handbooks, etc.

As teachers, we are all too familiar with compliance courses. Given the responsibility of publication classes, our students should also be walking through scenarios and brainstorming together how to work through tough issues and procedures for avoiding issues. 

For this reason, my co-teacher and I created a training website for editors to walk staffers through things they need to know to be successful that isn’t necessarily the BIG THREE – photo, design or copy. 

Start with photo

This is the best place to start instruction. Photo, photo and even more photo. 

JEA has a great 18-week photo curriculum and most yearbook publishers also offer some kind of curriculum that includes photography. 

Here are some of my favorite projects to start with.

Water Balloons

A tried and true fun way to learn how to anticipate the moment and control shutter speeds. I suggest using real balloons rather than delicate water balloons. You can also dye the water for another fun effect!

Sweet, salty and sour

This is a great (and delicious) way to practice manual focus and aperture control. Students use snacks like Sour Patch Kids, Chex Mix and Skittles to learn more about controlling the focus of the camera and wide and small apertures. 

Photo Scavenger Hunt

Send staffers out in groups or pairs with a photo challenge word like “sweat” and see how they interpret it in under 20 minutes. This reinforces the concept of “think like a photographer” and sees how quickly they can work!

Having trouble with some photo techniques? Try contacting a local photographer. They are always eager to help out where they can!