This year has flown by. We are a couple of weeks from Thanksgiving and a couple past that and the semester is over.
It seems like yesterday that I was introducing myself to the new students. This semester has not been without its ups and downs. As I wrote last month, my reality has changed greatly this year (http://schoolvideonews.com/Resources/Accepting-Reality). The sports production machine hasn’t been running as smoothly this year as it has in the past.
We have done fewer broadcasts this year so you would think that we would be doing bigger and better things. I also mentioned my belief that teachers as all type a personalities so while we have done fewer broadcasts, my belief is that we haven’t done them better. We have added a lot of things but on the final product we haven’t added as much as I wanted. This year, thanks to the folks at Tactical Fiber Systems, we have added a field level studio show. This is great because it gives us a better presence on camera than simply the top of a the pressbox or worse, a cinder block wall. Using fiber allows us to run one cable and be able to send audio and video both directions with no loss and not too much additional weight to the already heavy load in. Our studio show is excited to now have a program monitor on the field with them as they go through replays stats and more.
We are continuing to innovate with our graphics and are working to use a graphics look similar to Fox (They caught a lot of heat for the simplicity but I love it). I have always liked simply designed graphics. With viewer’s growing information expectations, I expect to see simpler graphics packages being used more. I also expect to see more and more information given via graphics. Sports viewers are becoming more information thirsty and producers are going to have to find ways to give that information correctly and quickly. We are using New Blue Fx’s Titler Live as our graphics server and still in love. Last week, we were extremely short on staff (2 of 8 were present) so we brought in several students who had no experience with our set-up, or sports production, and gave them a 5 minute walk through and they ran the graphics the entire game with no problem.
This season has also lead to something I expected to happen a lot earlier in the process of growing the program - our first personnel discipline issue. I have 5 students who work with me as a part of our Work Based Learning program. The Work Based Learning program is an opportunity for me to interact with some of our best and brightest as they close out their time in high school and get reach for college or a career. The problem is that sometimes these students feel they are above the rest and get a little bit of an attitude. I make is clear from day one that this experience is not a walk in the park and not another name for a study hall. I expect the students to work like employees. Long story short on the situation this month, one of my WBL students needed to go see a teacher. When they returned 10 minutes later, they had lunch. The teacher and the cafeteria aren’t in the same part of the building or on the way to or from each other. The student went out of their way to get lunch. It was a little thing but I called the student out on it. The student apparently took offense to my stance of “I must know where you are” and took to text messages to communicate her frustration. She included me on the text messages. When someone else in the group text told her, her response “ I don’t care.” The next time I saw her she received a performance improvement plan (PIP - https://docs.google.com/document/d/1irox39xqoKkxixSENHYkTSCWIkTvOAqY3BXQhCILWCc/edit?usp=sharing ). I outlined how unprofessional the actions were and that in a professional setting, this would have cost her much more. We are now through this situation though I have to say the relationship has been damaged.
I hated having to go through the formal route but I felt that was the only way to truly reach her. She learned a lot of lessons through the process. The biggest lesson she learned was that she needs to read everything she signs. The PIP informed her that she was suspended for live broadcasts for 30 days. When she showed up that Friday to shoot the game, she was blown away that I was sending her home. This plays into my philosophy that I hope to teach her more about life and being a real, relevant adult than I do video production. Our mission as teachers should not be to upload a book of knowledge into the minds of our students but instead use our knowledge in the field to prepare our students for the world.
We are almost to basketball season which seems much easier than football for some reason but I am excited to see what we can do to make some noise and shake things up. Next month, I will dive into our basketball set up and show how changing the angles makes a world of difference.
Tom White is a video production teacher at the Rockdale Career Academy in Conyers. GA. Tom is also the director of the Sports Broadcast Institute, which is One of Five Georgia Governor’s Innovation in Education award winning programs and the NFHS Network Best Overall Program. The Sports Broadcast Institute works to produce live broadcasts, newscasts, sports documentaries and more for the Three schools, Rockdale Co, Salem, and Heritage High schools, that the career academy serves. Prior to teaching, Tom was a marketing, promotions, and online content director for a major radio corporation in Atlanta. Tom studied exercise science at High Point University prior to his radio career. Despite his winding career path, his mother still thinks he is special.