Adviser Update Adviser Update Spring 2017 | Page 18

GOING LOCAL USING REGIONAL RESOURCES TO STRENGTHEN YOUR PROGRAM By Anne Hayman, MJE N ational journalism conventions provide amazing opportunities for teachers and students. In addition to the life experiences associated with travel and spending time in a group, the vast expertise shared by the presenters is incredible. I wish every student on my staff were able to attend every journalism convention. We all know how impractical that is, however. I encourage you to consider how you might better use your local resources to create similar experiences for yourself, your students and your program. I’m not saying you should never attend a national convention; I am saying local resources can provide additional layers to your journalism training. On a small scale, consider starting a Journalism Adviser Professional Learning Community. You know some of the advisers of area schools. You can also use your state journalism association or yearbook representatives to help you connect with others. Email them all and see if they are interested. The worst that can happen is they say no. Set up a regular meeting schedule, decide how you’re going to select topics for discussion and create a fun, meaningful time with colleagues. Many schools employ the PLC approach in their buildings, but journalism advisers frequently are “the entire program,” which isolates them from their colleagues. A PLC provides that rich discussion about how to improve your program. Additionally, look around your community for people whose expertise will strengthen your program. Seek feedback from the photographer and reporter at your local paper. Pull in a portrait photographer. Ask the Chamber of Commerce what marketing projects with which they need help. Talk to the area community college’s journalism program. Bring all of these people together at once, or chat with them individually. Use their experiences and specialties to shore up the holes in your program and showcase your strengths. Tell these local experts about your program. Brag about what you and what your students do. Be honest about the shortcomings of the program and your training, and ask how they c