Before the contest (and any production, really) we create a schedule that the team can agree upon. This helps manage time and sets proper expectations about when things should be accomplished by. Since this was the first time the group would be working together in preparation for our upcoming STN contest, I had expected some bumps along the way. However, I hadn't expected the level of frustration that was beginning to grow Saturday afternoon. I had met the group Saturday morning to monitor their planning and cold calls out to people in the community (and also to be their equipment chauffeur). Everything was on track by the time I had to leave. It was pouring heavily that day and I was a bit worried that they hadn't locked anything down the day before (which is what we normally try to do). Saturday afternoon came and went and the only update I received was that they locked in an interview and time to shoot B-roll on Sunday, but also were going to a local park to shoot extra b-roll of scenery and kids playing in a park. It was a strange combination of decisions considering the interview they locked in was about an organization focusing on bullying. Since I'm only able to provide feedback (which to me, means only commenting on the students' decisions after they've been made), I was unable to protest their decision to shoot everything the day before their video was due or the fact that they spent valuable time on b-roll I didn't think was going to be useful.
Sunday morning, from my understanding the group was supposed to meet at 10AM. It somehow changed to noon without me being informed. To make matters worse, their ride to the interview was cancelled and they made the decision to catch the bus without again, informing me. Luckily, a parent had heard about this decision and decided to step in. I later find that 1 member reported late to the meeting spot and that their parent had to take them to the interview. I didn't find out any of this until after the fact, which was surprising considering how much we stress open communication in this class. To make matters worse, the group didn't properly communicate to each other their schedules and the editing computer went home with someone who was new at editing and didn't have time to edit a proper rough cut that night. To make matters worse I'm hearing that students are yelling and blaming one another after they had gone their separate ways that evening.
Monday, we previewed a really raw version of the first rough cut, which only included their interview and about 3 shots of b-roll. The group was pretty disheartened but we weren't about to give up. Alana's lesson to learn as director, was that she needed to live with her decisions and that there was no point on dwelling on the decisions that had been made to that point. I encouraged her to draw up a plan to finish a final cut they could be proud of by the end of the day. We had agreed that we wouldn't miss the deadline, and at the very least would submit the best version of whatever we had by 11PM. Roni hadn't come to school that morning due to illness (our anchor), while Kim and Lucas (both being new to media this year) felt limited in their contributions. [STN Seattle trip members, 1st student who find this easter egg "wins"]. Despite these shortcomings they pulled together to draw up a plan, lay down a script, record their anchoring sound bites, and to arrange their b-roll in a coherent manner that showed off at least 1 sequence. At about 8PM that night I received a 2nd rough cut with a request for feedback. A lot of the corrections I wanted them to make wasn't possible due to everything being handled last minute, but it was the best they could do at the time so smaller suggestions were made to address their audio and b-roll sequences. Some final polish later and I receive the final cut close to 11PM that night. It was a rough night, but what the kids were able to pull together last minute is a testament to their level of dedication and high skill floor.
The overall teachable moments we gleaned from this experience was that when working in high pressure situations like these (and STN), people will lose their cool. While it's no justification to take your frustrations on each other, separating work and friendship should be crucial in making a team work smoothly. I encouraged students to familiarize themselves with their group's work habits and to reflect on their communication protocols. A lot of the problems they faced stemmed from their lack of communication and over-reliance on assumptions. Focusing on the positive outcomes of this experience we also talked about how groups can pull through when a series of things just aren't working out, but that it'll take a group effort to do so. I received positive feedback from a parent commenting on Alana's ability to lead (this was especially inspiring when you consider Alana's issues in being a leader during the first half of the school year), and was sure to pass along the good news when we highlighted some of the group's strengths.
While not every instance of struggle will have a positive outcome, it will always have a lesson to be learned should you invest the time into finding it.
Media @ EMMS
Tiger Media is the video production team of Ewa Makai Middle School. Our programs include an Exploratory program for students interested in learning more about video production and an Advanced program for students who would like to extend their learning into professional and real-world video production.
About Mr. Toyota
When they say "professions run in the family," the saying holds true for my family and I. My mother, my aunty, and my grandmother were all teachers before me and I didn't ever think I'd be the one to take up the mantle. I've been teaching since 2008 and started at the age of 23 years old.
I'm a National Board Certified teacher with a Bachelor's in Secondary Education: Social Studies. Additionally, I have served in various roles ranging from an HSTA PD Trainer and Consultant, AVID Site Team Member, Club Advisory, Volleyball Coach, Event Organizer, and Chair for the CxK Media Cohort.
Basic Teaching Philosophy
There are constantly occurring learning opportunities. As a teacher, it is my duty to not only help students see these opportunities at face value, but to help them profit from these experiences.
I believe that learning is growing and that growing in the right direction is an important aspect of being successful. I can help the imperfect, I can hardly help those who are perfect. Although academics is an important part of a child's life, I understand that a child's life is even more important than school as an institution. Homework, tests, grades, and due dates pale in comparison to preparing a child for their future. I am but one person amongst a community of people that will come into a child's life, whether my role is small or large, my actions have lasting implications.
I will always strive to make a difference, to help student's grow in the right direction, to develop their passions, and to prepare them for the struggles ahead. It is my duty, my honor, and my will as their teacher.
- Ethan Toyota