How Much Trust Do You Give Your Students?

What about - power – independence – freedom?

Are you letting them learn by trial and error or are you too afraid to let them touch anything? I know of some teachers who won’t  let their students operate cameras….I mean, how do they expect them to learn anything?  Not only do I let students operate the cameras, I expect them to produce live broadcasts! In fact, I have done so with both middle and high school students every year I’ve been teaching and am still employed to talk about it. Let me share a little advice on how to prepare your students for LIVE TV as well as, a couple of stories from my student produced Live Broadcasts.

The first thing I do, is give my students a big lecture about professionalism and the ‘privilege’ that we could lose if they do something distasteful. I compare it to the ‘stupid criminal’ who video tapes their crime and posts it on Youtube.  “As role models,  you are seen by the school and held up to a higher standard than others.  Your crime will be recorded...your punishment will be tougher!” This has worked for me for 8 years. My students wouldn’t dare try anything. Now, with that...I have to confess that I had one of our athletes, who had not been fortunate enough to hear my stellar lecture...end a sports cast with (Insert College Name Here) “ Sucks”  I was shocked. This student gets interviewed by ESPN all the time, you think he’d know better. So, I treated him like any other student and kicked him off the air for the rest of the year.  My class thought I over-reacted. I explained that “Nonsense like that would not be tolerated.” I made my point and haven’t had any problems since.

From the beginning, I train them on all the technical positions, how to anchor, direct and produce. I find that Students want to learn and to be successful but, they need you to believe in them and train them with patience. Sometimes, the resistance for a student to fill a position comes from fear of not knowing how. I Remind them that I don’t expect them to master the jobs on the first try. I give them a student partner and lots of time to practice. Before you know it, their fear will go away and they’ll be training others.

My students also quickly learn that they are the ONLY ones in the school who know how to produce our News Show and to run all the studio equipment. With this knowledge and skill comes the responsibility of directing any teacher or Administrator who comes in to be a guest on the show. I prepare the students to be “In Charge” and not to fear the adults but to understand that anyone who visits our set feels out of place and nervous. These guests need our direction. They need us to tell them where to go, what to do and when to do it.

Also, prepare your class for all possible technical problems and how to respond quickly. You know the quirks with your studio and control room. We all have them. Show Misty02them the possible technical failures and train them how to correct them. Teach them what to do if the source of the problem is unknown. ie: Mute the anchor’s audio, put up a graphic “PLEASE STAND BY”. Give them options to choose from if they can’t correct the problem so they know what to do or how to end their news cast. And let them know that ‘things happen’. It isn’t the end of the world. Learn from the experience and move on. There is always the next show!

Two weeks into the new school year, I pretend to be a substitute and tell the class to produce the show all by themselves, without my help. This way I can see what I need to work with them on and what I have left out. It is also a great way to see who the true leaders are and how well the class works together as a team.

I teach on two campuses, the freshman campus and the main campus (10th through 12th grade).  So, my freshman have to produce the News Show for their campus from the beginning of the school year. Take a look at this year’s 9th graders behind the scenes as they produce a LIVE news cast at only 7 weeks into the school year. I have them do everything. Produce, direct, write, anchor, and create! This is their class and they must run the show! (Left)

 I am not trying to say, that nothing has ever gone wrong, let’s not forget that they are ‘students’. In fact, you’ll be happy to know, I have Misty1 had plenty of typos, technical problems, bloopers and just plain old poor quality.  Nothing bad enough to fire me over, but I expect the up most professionalism from my crew at all times. One of the worst bloopers I have had was when one anchor started laughing uncontrollably at a teleprompter mishap, at the most in-appropriate time. The announcement was about devastating tornadoes and how our student body could help.   Take a look. (Right)

You could see our anchor was trying so hard not to laugh, she was almost crying.  She tried her best to remain professional and pull herself together - which she eventually did -  but, the timing was not in her favor. I immediately emailed our faculty with an apology and explanation. The faculty understood and actually responded with compassion, they felt bad for her. Even after that, I am still happily, and gainfully employed! Basically, it comes down to this...don’t be afraid to let the students run the show - that’s how we, as people learn, by ‘doing’.


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Misty Gentle started with long format television programs for ABC, NBC, FOX, Disney, Nickelodeon, Animal Planet, Discovery and has recently transitioned into the digital and online space. The vast variety of genres in her TV production experience has given her the opportunity to master the production process from development through post, manage websites, teach and really become a multi-media professional. Certified in Final Cut Pro, she also edits in Adobe, AVID and other Apple software. Starting at Nickelodeon, her resume includes classics such as: Double Dare, Legends of the Hidden Temple, GUTS, You’re On, What Would You Do? and My Family’s Got GUTS. She embraces new technology, exercises creativity, and produces quality shows that entertain and inspire others.

She began teaching digital video production in 2004 with a full TV program at the middle school level. After 5 years, Gentle moved up to high school where she taught storytelling, script writing, camera operation, computer GFX and editing to 9th through 12th graders on two campuses and helped write the curriculum guide for Orange County Public Schools.

Since 2013, Gentle moved to Los Angeles to continue working in the industry. Adding to her resume with TV shows for NBC, FOX, Lifetime, Bravo and Reelz she has also produced online content for Disney’s YouTube Channel, Bravo, the CW and Machinima. These productions have given her a broad understanding of production from show concept and development through post and delivery in multiple platforms.

Gentle holds a BA degree in Communications - Television and Radio Production and is certified in Final Cut Pro and 'Technical Vocational Education - Television Production'


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