The picture below is my greatest fear.
I I am assuming the following: the three girls are students or recent graduates (age) who are Alabama fans (shirt color tells a lot) - I am also assuming the gentleman behind the official is also not a professional; photographer (type of camera and lens combination). This is my greatest fear not because I am a Georgia Bulldog fan and this won the national championship for Alabama but instead because these 4 people had the perfect opportunity to take the shot of a lifetime and because they were busy being fans (read as distracted) they missed their chance. It’s one thing to be 50 feet away from the catch that wins the national championship but it’s another to have been 50 feet away with a picture to show your point of view.
This photo made its rounds in the photography communities and I used it in my classroom to teach several lessons. I use it to teach students that their role when they are working is not to be a fan. There are thousands of those in the stands - that job is filled. Your job when you work an event is to work and not just watch. If you want to watch, pay. If you want to get paid, work.
I commend these 4 people though because they took a chance. They seized an opportunity and while they don’t have this shot in particular, I am certain they have dozens of other spectacular shots. These people took the time and energy to apply for a credential, go to the media area, done the photo bib all day and take a shot at getting the most important shot of the year.
What shots are you taking? What risks are you taking on behalf of your students?
I spoke with another teacher last week who was beating herself up because she planned an event to showcase student works and not a lot of students took advantage. This teacher felt like she was not doing a good job because she didn’t have a ton of video entries and a lot of the videos were submitted by several students. As I talked with this teacher, I asked her why she was upset. “I thought there would be more students interested.” I reminded her that students will more often than not “let you down.” Students often don’t see things in school as opportunities. You literally have to tell them “this is an chance for you to be an AWARD WINNING (insert role).”
I know the feeling “I have put in so much work and they don’t appreciate it.” I get caught up in the selfish teaching more frequently than I would like to admit but I know my heart is for these kids to get to do things that they have not been able to before - or better, if they never thought they could.
I am the ultimate competitor. I am the kind of competitor “that doesn’t give head starts to my children in a footrace but instead, I push them over as I pass them” competitive. This means there are a lot of times, I put myself out there for the students and get extremely upset when they don’t take advantage of it.
Every now and then, you have a student who takes full advantage of the opportunity you have presented for them and you feel like a million dollars. I have that feeling right now.
4 years ago a little girl came to one of my enrichment camps (great recruiting tool by the way) and we produced a newscast with her class. She was in the 8th grade and in a couple of weeks (35 school days to be exact) she will graduate high school. At the end of that camp 4 years ago, she told me something I never thought I would hear during my teaching career. “Mr. White. I want to be technical director when I grow up.” I love TDs - I think it is one of the most thankless jobs in the industry that has the most pressure.
Prior to this student joining my program, I decided I was going to try to create relationships with as many college video programs as possible. One summer, I emailed 63 colleges and tried to create a relationship with them so my students could have as many “teachers” as possible. Two colleges responded. One later told me that “high school students should stick to doing high school work” and the other responded with “can you come by?” I was appreciative and motivated by the two who responded. The other 61 hurt me. I have to admit that I took it personally. I thought many times about just giving up on the idea. The voice of failure told me that everyone felt like high school students weren’t good enough and I was foolish to think so.
The school that gave us an opportunity has opened their buildings to my students but this student in particular has taken full advantage. She started making connections and started volunteering. She has worked at the football stadium producing the in house show as well as working with the ESPN 3 crew to produce broadcasts for the basketball team. She told me last week before she left for spring break that she was not only accepted into the school but she had received an athletic scholarship to work in the video department… and when she isn’t working her scholarship hours… she will get paid. This is our job - train the students to be able to not only achieve their goals but position them to be great people.
Too often as teachers, we are watching the big play instead of taking the shots we need to for our students. It’s easy to celebrate the big plays because that’s what makes us feel better. Sometimes we should be laying the foundation for the next big play instead of just waiting for it. We have to get out of our comfort zone in order to get the best for our students.
What shots do you need to take now for your students?