You Are Not Alone! | Print |
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Written by Phillip L. Harris   

What is the most outrageous request you've had from your colleagues? Do they "suggest" projects implying that they're helping you find "things" for your kids to do? You are not alone - teachers nationwide contributed the following comments.

"This could be a great project for your students."

"Hello, my 9-year old daughter is involved with an outside ballet group and she has a recital coming up. I was thinking this would make for a great project for your kids to film this event! You know, real world experience?"

"I know I've never taken one of your classes, but our Spanish teacher said we could do a video to replace an assignment, and she said we should come to you and you could show us how to use a camera and edit. Oh by the way, we need to use one of your cameras and also the project is due tomorrow..."

"I have a student teacher who needs a video of herself teaching in class for her portfolio. Can you record that on your prep?"

"Could I get this 60 min long presentation on tape put on a DVD in 15 minutes."

"Could you make us a football season highlight DVD in two days for the banquet?"

"Can you have one of your kids video the banquet? Dinner tickets are $25."

"I know I'm not in your class anymore, but can I still use your equipment?"

"Can you make a promo for our upcoming dance to run on the news on Monday?, we only need it to be about a minute or so."

The above comments came from the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation (RTNDF) Forums. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! There are hundreds of teachers doing what you do. They are part of a sharing and support network and get together on a daily basis using the Internet!

If you teach television production or broadcast journalism, you very likely are the only person in your building teaching this subject. Depending on the size of your school district, there may be no other person in the entire district who understands the things you have to deal with. You only have the Spanish teacher down the hall to talk to about how your kids keep losing the XLR to mini plug adapters. Does he just give you a blank stare when you talk? You are also probably the only person in the building who has a clue about what it takes to create a television program. Do you feel like screaming because no one in your school understands the issues with your facility, equipment, or classes?

Even though it seems you're on an island by yourself, remember this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

There is a solution to your "lost on a desert island" situation. The Internet is a vehicle for you to be in contact with hundreds of teachers who teach exactly what you teach. These teachers have the same problems you have and many of them have found solutions to those problems and are willing to share those solutions with you if you just ask.

The list below begins with what I feel are the best resources that are at your disposal. You can pose a question and often will have 10 answers within 15 minutes delivered right to your inbox.

The High School Broadcast Journalism organization is sponsored by the Radio and Television News Directors Foudation. This web site offers free membership in the organization, access to a listserv with hundreds of television production and broadcast journalism teachers, forums, contests, grants, and much, much more. The forums offer solutions to many problems in a searchable database that is growing every day. Here is how you can join:

  1. Go to and click on "forums" on the black bar at the top.
  2. On the new window, click on register near the right end of the black bar.
  3. Follow the instructions to register.
  4. Add This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to your safe senders list/contact list
  5. You'll receive an activation email almost immediately. Click on the link in the email and you're good to go!
  6. Now click on "log in" on the far right of that black bar and follow the instructions.
  7. You'll see lots of forums that you can now post questions and answers in.
  8. If you'd like to receive an email to let you know of any new postings in any particular forums, just go to the forum(s) that you are interested in and scroll to the bottom. Click on "enable email notifications." That's it!

If you have any difficulty with the forums, contact me directly: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . I'm the Director of Forums for this organization so I can help you quickly. also has a teacher E-MAIL listserv you can join to communicate immediately with fellow teachers all over the country. From the home page, scroll down until you see "Join the RTNDF/HSBJ listserv. Follow the instructions and you're in. Both of these resources are totally free!!

The Student Television Network (STN) has a listserv with hundreds of television production and broadcast journalism teachers. Put yourself in touch with all these "kindred spirits" instantly. They offer help and advice on a whole gamut of issues with equipment and classes, contests and much, much more. STN sponsors a national convention yearly with workshops for students and teachers in the areas of broadcast journalism and video production as well as many, many contests. Did I say that they sponsor many contests?

To join STN, just go to their home page and click on "Join" on the top bar. There is a small fee to join the organization but the value of belonging is 1000 times higher than the cost. When you join, you'll be on their listserv immediately. Membership also allows your school to attend the convention, to participate in the contests and to receive their newsletters.

Kent State University

Kent State University is offering an online master's degree for journalism educators. Janet Kerby has developed and now instructs a 3-graduate credit course for broadcast journalism teachers and prospective teachers as part of that online degree program. The title of the course is Teaching Broadcast Journalism. Parts of the course will also be available in the future for continuing education units. For more information about the degree or Kerby's course, contact Candace Perkins Bowen at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

SchoolTube is an outlet for student work to be played on the Internet. The site is somewhat similar to YouTube. However, the only material which can be uploaded must first be approved by a teacher. Teachers who want their students work to be available for viewing by anyone on the Internet receive a password from SchoolTube which is used to filter inappropriate material from becoming available. Therefore, SchoolTube is a much "safer" place for students to go to view the work of other students from all over the world. SchoolTube has much more to offer. Check out their site!

I have written a high school textbook, Television Production. The book is available through Goodheart-Willcox Publisher. To view information about this textbook, search "television production" from the Goodheart-Willcox homepage or select the Technical/Trades/Technology catalog from the homepage and choose the Visual Arts category of products. Once the product page is displayed, the "Look Inside" tab offers two sample chapters for review.

The text addresses professional television production and focuses on students entering the television production industry as a career. To supplement traditional textbook instruction, a student workbook and an Instructor's CD are also available. The Instructor's CD contains syllabus, curriculum, lesson plans, timeline, handouts and forms, grading contracts, classroom management techniques, resource web sites, chapter tests, and answer keys for the text, workbook, and tests. Additionally, for each chapter there are discussion questions to expand on the topics presented in the text and more activities than you will ever have time to do to reinforce key chapter concepts.

This is the web site for the Student Press Law Center. If you ever have a legal question or a "sticky situation" and you need some legal advice on broadcast journalism issues or other issues related to television, this is a great place to find answers quickly and for FREE. They field questions via e-mail and telephone. An attorney is available for advice for teachers and students.

JEA is an organization for print and electronic media. They sponsor a national convention twice a year with workshops and competitions for all student media.

This website promotes the training opportunities offered to video production and broadcast journalism teachers nationwide. Janet Kerby and I have been training teachers for several years now and we are well aware that many teachers "out there" are struggling with difficulties associated with teaching these classes. Some common problems are grading systems, classroom management, fundraising, equipment purchasing and maintenance, equipment checkout, rubrics, lesson plans, multimedia, first amendment issues, copyright issues, and many more topics.

We are available to come to your location and provide pertinent staff development and subject-specific instruction to the teachers in your school, district, system, or state. We will tailor the content to meet the needs of your individual group. We offer the ability to have us come to your location and provide individualized training just for the teachers in your school, district, system, or even the entire state as extremely pertinent staff development subject specific workshops. Our website offers content descriptions, clients, and clips of some of our presentations. We can also provide a brochure to those who are in charge of professional development in your area.


Phillip L. Harris has taught Television Production for 34 years in Fairfax County, Virginia. As a consultant, he has helped to design curricula and build production facilities in Virginia and other states. Phil's class also operates Digital Wave Productions, a school-based enterprise and is responsible for providing approx. $50K yearly to purchase new equipment and all the while students receive a salary and obtain resume-worthy internships. The motto of his class: "Doing the real thing, With the real thing, Training to be the real thing" is Phil's teaching philosophy. In February, 2006, his high school textbook Television Production was published by Goodheart-Willcox, Co., Inc. Also, that year, his program received an "Exemplary" rating by the National Dissemination Center for Career and Technical Education at The Ohio State University. Phil is passionate about sharing his successful curriculum design with fellow TV broadcasting instructors. Phil has made presentations at VENE, ACTE, FETC, ITEA, JEA, SkillsUSA, STN, TSA, VATIE, and others. He is Director of Forum for the High School Broadcast Journalism project for the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation.