Been a long day, but it’s worth it


It’s 11:25 p.m. and I’ve just gotten home from work. I’m a teacher – a journalism teacher. Tonight was what we call “late night,” and I know not every high school journalism staff has this tradition, but it works, mostly, for us.

Even on my college staff, we had late night, and while it was also fun, it lacked the shenanigans and surprises that the high-school level late night encompasses. For the most part, I work on my own stuff, grading, lesson planning, cleaning piles on my desk…

I do have to stop every once in a while when I’m asked to read over someone’s final draft or look over a layout – I do read over everything before it goes in the paper, offer my editorial advice and my adviser advice, but really the editors and staff run the show. I love to eavesdrop on conversations. I get to hear them teach each other photoshop tricks or how subjects in photos “can’t face off the page, but if you just switch these two…”

I hear conversations about headline hierarchy and hamburger layouts (three horizontally designed stories on a page that resemble bun, patty, bun). Tonight I watched as the editorial staff got together because they no longer felt “passion” about their chosen staff editorial topic. They sat atop or leaned against tables, brainstormed about what they felt passion about (yes, I heard them use that word). One thought led to another and another, hands clapped together and their voices raised as they hit on an idea and each added to it, and they got excited. A young, new staff member who is full of motivation and ambition really, really wanted to write it, so he was given the reigns. After settling down, he produced an editorial piece they were all impressed with. There was more input and a little revising, a little cutting (cut your darlings!) for space, and the thing was done – with no bloodshed.

As pages were finished, one editor pinned them above my whiteboard, visual proof of work completed, as well as a reminder of close editing for tomorrow before press deadline at 5 p.m. They trickled out the back door as understanding parents came to pick up the non-drivers, and the drivers left too, one taking someone else home. I’ve been criticized a few times for keeping these kids out so late, but it’s important for them to understand meeting deadlines and that the work they do leading up to the deadlines makes all the difference.

These days are long, but full of production, silliness, learning and teaching. I’m tired, yes, but I wouldn’t trade this part of my job.


About teachjournalism
I am a high school teacher of journalism, technology and reading. I advise the school's newspaper and yearbook, both student-led publications. Documenting and sharing my experiences is a way of reflecting to improve my own work and and inviting commentary so that we might all benefit. I believe, as I tell my students each year, that we all learn from each other.

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