by Julie Dodd
JEA Mentoring Committee co-chair

The school year is coming to a close for high school and middle school teachers. Edutopia, a teaching resource from the George Lucas Education Foundation, offers advice for how teachers can use their summer time to rejuvenate.

The 2010 Summer Rejuvenation Guide is available for free download and offers 10 tips for teachers on how to recharge their professional and personal batteries. I’d suggest that you send the URL of the guide to your mentees.

Let me highlight  four of my favorite tips:

Tip #1 Grow Your Network
The JEA Mentoring Program is designed to help new teachers do just that. The Summer Guide suggests that part of developing a network and staying in contact with that network is through social media. The suggestion is to follow blogs related to teaching and sign up for free Twitter and Skype accounts.

Skype provides free long-distance communicating through the computer. The Mentoring Committee is moving into using Skype for our communicating. Nick Ferentinos wasn’t able to attend the JEA/NSPA convention in Portland in April, but he joined our Mentoring Committee via Skype.

Tip #3 Do-It-Yourself Professional Development
The Internet provides a wonderful way of crafting your own learning program. Several excellent resources are:

  • Poynter’s News University provides more than 70 free online courses. The courses can be taken at your own pace, starting and restarting. I’ll put in a plug for “Reporting Across Platforms” and “Video Storytelling for the Web,” both courses I helped develop with JEA Mentoring Committee colleague Judy Robinson.
  • High School Broadcast Journalism provides a number of online learning activities, including three online courses (Multimedia 101, 102 or 103) that teachers can take for CEU credits —
  • ASNE’s High School Journalism website provides a number of useful activities and lesson plans for new journalism teachers who are trying to develop their media skills.

If you have a recommendation about a helpful website for self-directed learning for journalism teachers, please let us know.

Tip #6 Cultivate Classroom Artifacts
The work that students produce during the year are important not only for their own learning but can be very helpful for the teacher to use both in future teaching and in documenting the work of that year. This is where media teachers are ahead, as they are producing work throughout the year that is saved — the editions of the newspaper or the yearbook. But it’s important to save those digital files, downloading materials and saving those before the server is cleared for the next school year.

A new resource included in the Summer Rejuvenation Guide was High Tech High, which is an online site that enables teachers and students to work together in posting a project, complete with narration. I like this as a way of the editors and other staff members and the adviser to tell the back story of what was involved in producing the broadcast, newspaper, yearbook or website.

Tip #8 Get Moving
No, Edutopia isn’t encouraging teachers to leave their current teaching positions — and the JEA Mentoring Program is working to help our new teachers continue in their current teaching and advising positions. Teachers are encouraged to get involved in a fitness program. Too often during the school year, grading papers and meeting publication deadlines can keep media teachers from including exercise in their busy schedules. And those deadline parties with pizza and cake can add the pounds. The change of schedule in the summer can enable teachers to get more exercise and develop an exercise plan that they will want to continue when they start the next school year.

If you have a mentee who leaves nearby, you might want to set up a time the two of you could meet for a walk-and-talk session.

Do you have any tips to offer for new journalism teachers on how they can use the summer to rejuvenate?