by Julie Dodd
JEA Mentoring Committee co-chair

The school year is ending for most high school teachers. They have turned in the final grades, packed up their rooms, and attended graduation.

But for most high school teachers, their work as teachers continue. They are taking classes during the summer, reviewing new textbooks, and spending some time planning lessons for the following school year.

If they are media advisers, they have extra duties. Making arrangements for students to pick up yearbooks that weren’t picked up by the end of school. Tracking down advertisers who have not paid for newspaper or yearbook ads. Taking their media students to summer journalism camps.

To help both in closing out the school year and in planning for next year, journalism teachers and their mentors might be interested in adding Atul Gawande’s “The Checklist Manifesto” to their summer reading lists.

The book was written by a physician who was on the mission of reducing infection and mistakes in operating rooms. His answer was developing checklists — and then getting operating room personnel to use the checklist. He interviewed pilots and studied the checklists developed for airline emergencies to help in developing the medical checklists. And the resulting ehecklist — when followed — led to an incredible reduction in infection and mistakes in operating rooms around the world, from high tech hospitals to hospitals in developing countries with limited facilities.

Two key aspects of the checlist’s effectiveness were:

1) Getting all people involved to share responsibility — for some (like the lead surgeon) that meant listening more to others; for some (like nurses) that meant speaking up.

2) Helping everyone remember to make periodic checks during the procedure.

Even though media teachers aren’t trying to prevent infections (except of computers), the concepts included in the book are useful in helping advisers and their students work together to be systematic — from preparing the final files to be sent to the printer to being ready to make a call to sell an ad.

I’d suggest adding “The Checklist Manifesto” to your summer reading list.