I need routines and deadlines which I and Jared can set. I'm not completely immune to procrastination, but the very nature of reporting is that things can, and will, pile up.
Even with this tension, I still revel in the freedom to pursue stories and events which I think matter. I act on this freedom in wanting to be open about how I approach people and events. #SmallTownPR means that we don't see the newsroom as an ivory tower.
My graduate journalism studies have touched on this within the frame of teaching. It has mainly been about flexibility, even within constraints such as standardized testing.
In a recent assignment, I had to devise an exercise which a hypothetical class would complete. This could have been about anything, but it had to have a rubric. I wanted them to find and then interpret a song about the Vietnam War or the Counterculture. The idea was they would post their thoughts on the Canvas online learning platform.
I thought a relatively low-stress assignment like this was good enough. My rubric was based on the students responding to the thread and two of their peers' responses, not on a numerical grade. This was about whether they did or did not complete both parts.
The professor said in his feedback that I was too open-ended with the rubric, and I know I could've been more specific in general. However, I think he overlooked the intent behind my assignment. The essential component was having a class discussion.
Throughout his course, I have addressed the point of teaching as being to encourage expression and critical thinking in the classroom -- so students can make a connection with the content. In other words, just "teaching to the test" (i.e. strictly lecturing) can stifle their ability to create meaning. Conversation is a necessary piece of that process.
This is what I would have wanted with my hypothetical assignment. I would want my students to come up with their interpretations about what the songs were referring to.
I can see a parallel about my own assessment as a reporter and what I would value in teaching, preferably in a high-school senior or college class. What lies in this is the importance of trust and being genuine as a person, and, more or less, just being available. Teachers are not just to be authority figures, but to also be active listeners.
David Blix, a beloved religion professor at Wabash College, said this about part of his teaching philosophy: "You have to listen first, hear what the other voices are saying. And then listen to what the students say, and then play back and forth with them."
To me, this is a crucial part of being a small-town journalist. I see interviews and photos as opportunities to better understand a person or an event. We are onlookers, but must be receptive to what's going on. We're also trying to make sense of all of it.
My writing style aside, I tend to focus on the facts and quotes. It is up to readers to make their own judgments about their meaning. Perhaps this applies to being more than a "teacher," though. They also are participants in the continual learning process.
Dr. Blix suggested we should make room for puzzlement, and fleshing it out leads to better understanding. I think the value of learning is in us not having it all figured out.