I FORGOT to teach them how to write captions

OK, I’m gonna be vulnerable for a sec and tell you a story.

My first year teaching, two days before the first issue of the newspaper went to print, I was editing final layouts. Just ONE lonely caption in the entire issue, and it made zero sense. I was frustrated at first, but then I realized my students didn’t know how to write a caption. BECAUSE I FORGOT TO TEACH THEM. 

I guess I made sure my yearbook staff knew allllll about it, but with newspaper we focused so much on writing the actual articles – I totally forgot about those tiny little (very important) captions!!  

I needed something quick and easy to teach them about what tense to write in, what content to include, and how to format a quote. Everything I had was yearbook-y, and more than they needed – especially since we were on deadline. I spent an embarrassingly long time looking for some kind of “quick guide to writing a caption for a school newspaper.” I was exhausted, overwhelmed, frustrated, and honestly I just felt dumb that I forgot to teach something so basic. Of course, lots of things came up in search about caption writing, but my eyes were glazed over, I couldn’t pick one. Didn’t have the energy to create one.  

I was WAY overthinking it.  

So I did what any good new teacher does and I winged it. The next day I pulled it up on the projector, talking for .25 seconds about why we need to have a caption for every photo, and then we wrote each caption with the whole class. 

Did we NEED 12 kids (24 eyeballs) staring at the projector as I typed it out? LOL NO. Were they all actively participating? No. Did we waste precious deadline time? I mean kinda – there was definitely other stuff to get done before going to print.  

It worked out. The next issue the captions were great (I think they were scared of me and didn’t want to go through Camp Caption again). And you know it – I never forgot to teach captions ever again. But, I feel like I got lucky.  

I could have avoided that whole mess if…

  1. I had a dang PLAN. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
  2. I knew where to start. I was blinding searching like a high-school-newspaper-Google-gremlim was gonna pop out of my screen with the handouts already printed and ready to pass out. 

This is one of many reasons I started Organized Adviser in 2017 – to create a starting place for new advisers. We don’t claim to have all answers.. but if we don’t have a resource for you, we will find someone who does!

PS: Here is a quick printable about caption writing – the one I wish I had back then!

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