Challenged

Let the festivities and the work begin.

Let the festivities and the work begin.

The challenge: Write a blog post about supervising children at 10 p.m.

Challenged by: One of those children.

Her challenge: Write about being supervised by a cranky newspaper adviser at 10 p.m.

It’s late night. The first late night of the school year. The student staff is putting the polish on (most of) their stories, realizing which stories have art (and which might not) and teaching or learning InDesign and the fine art of newspage design.

Truly, late night is the best part of being on news staff. All former editors will tell you that’s what they remember most, except Skyler who might talk about freedom of the student press.

Late night looks a lot like this: The final bell rings. Staffers come strolling into the newspaper room (a.k.a. the yearbook room) either immediately or after a couple errands (one editor will make a run for Mountain Dew and some Sour Patch Kids). Some will have sports and won’t be in for a couple hours. Some will be here, have to leave for a bit and return. Some, lamentably, won’t make it tonight, but will do their best to communicate with employers about scheduling for next month. After digging into various leftover snacks, the kids will buckle down to putting finishing touches on stories and deciding which content will go on which pages and in what order.

After a couple hours of pretty solid work (some years music is playing; some years they all have earbuds in), they will be hungry again. But a staff mom will soon show up with dinner and another with drinks. We’ll all take a break and eat (away from the computers). Once it appears they have eaten their fill and are beginning to have too much fun (a couple of them will have already moved back to their computers), I will roar that it’s time to get back to work. “I WANNA LEAVE BY 9 P.M.”

Earlier in the day, they talked me into bringing back an old deal I used to make: Finish pages by 8 p.m., and I’ll bring breakfast Thursday morning. I hadn’t even thought on my own to make this deal, because, frankly, they haven’t finished that early in a couple years. We shall see.

Regardless of “the deal”, stressing and goofing off will absolutely occur. To what degree, with this new staff, remains to be seen. Previous years have seen a combination of hours of painstaking work on a detailed infographic without saving, followed by a power outage, thus, tears; frustration that work could not begin on a page because none of the content was finished, thus, a scream upon exiting the room; general stress from things not fitting together, whether for lack of space or lack of content, thus, a drive around a block or two. But on the lighter side, there are experiments on how/why the Sprite can glides sponaneously across the table (the surface was wet); whether you can pop corn by surrounding it with cellular devices in operating mode; which wheeled chair travels best down the long hallway. And without my knowledge, until I discovered photos in the server years later, how well fall leaves burn as opposed to various twigs. At least they were outside.

I’ve seen and heard really cool things, too. I’ve heard my own words come out of other peoples’ mouths as they explain headline heirarchy or dominant photo to a newbie. I’ve listened and watched as the editorial staff scratched a bad editorial halfway through late night and came together with a whiteboard, a marker and their combined ideas to produce something to be proud of. On a press deadline day, AT PRESS DEADLINE, I watched as four of the editors, co-managing and a couple section editors, realized that on their final, their senior issue – the one with all the senior stuff in it – realized no one had put together a page 15. There was no page 15 template, and there was no remaining content. But they knew they had to troubleshoot the problem and come up with a solution, so they did.

Will I be supervising children at 10 p.m.? No, not exactly. Because I told them we’d be finished by 9 p.m. but throughout the evening, supervising is a term I’d use loosely. They know what they are doing. I’m the warm (certified) body in the room. Though they ask me to “look over my story,” I know that as a staff, many of whom are editors, they don’t NEED me to do this. I know that I demand they get back to work when they’ve been goofing off for too long. But I also know that if I weren’t here, someone else would take the lead (because they do it time and time again). The tasks would get done. The messes (most of them) would get cleaned up. There will be a Demon Pitchfork come Friday morning.

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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.

One Response to Challenged

  1. kimbethmil says:

    You’ve made me cry! You always say that it will happen on the last issue of the year but I think that this tops those. I can’t tell you how much you’ve taught me, how much you’ve broken down my “barriers,” or how much you mean to me. Thank you so much for being there when I need you and thank you so much for being my Snider.

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