Saturday, September 26, 2009

78: Don't I Have Classes I Should Be Teaching?

1.2 Class Photo

So, yeah, school magazine (read: yearbook). I mentioned earlier that my approach to advising the magazine is sort of like herding cats. I am calling it "Zen and the Art of Student Journalism Advising." Instead of having meetings (or even a regular class), I just sort of speak out loud about the magazine when I notice that more than one student working on the magazine is in the room. Instead of having deadlines, I just make broad suggestions, like eventually, we will need to have all these things.

In some ways I am complete failure. For a group of kids who have never done anything like this before, I have provided very little concrete guidance. On the other hand, by directing with suggestion instead of instruction I have let the kids take the lead and sometimes that turns out surprisingly well.

When nothing seemed to be happening with the layout of the magazine, I just started doing it myself. I created a couple of cover ideas and shopped them around to the kids. It got them thinking and they decided they wanted the Year 13 students to spell out a WC (Wesley College) on the school field and put that on the cover. Clever idea and I had nothing to do with it. 

The girl who seems to have taken the lead as designer (there is another girl who was supposed to be designer and then never did anything and now there appears to be competing designing going on) has taken to the crap-tastic program that is Scribus (open source, piss-poor excuse for PageMaker, not even Quark or InDesign). I offer helpful hints like, "Let's try to put pictures that go together on the same page," or "Try to make one picture on the page bigger than all the others. More than five pictures on one page might be too many," and "We will want to put words with each picture to tell who is in them and what they are doing." She of course, promptly ignores all my suggestions and goes back to making the horror-show photo collage she was working on. But it at least is the students' work and not mine.

One student, Lui, is in charge of photography. Basically, it means that he is doing all the grunt work, while the other students just grab the school camera whenever and run around and take pictures of themselves making gang signs. Lui was supposed to organize class pictures and sports teams picture days. Basically, I told him he had to get the pule's permission to take the pictures at school one day and he had to tell everyone about it ahead of time so they came to school that day looking nice. Outside of that, I pretty much left the planning to him. And by planning, I mean no planning. He did decide to have a large siapo (tapa) cloth as the back drop and it was eventually delivered to the school around interval the day we were supposed to be taking the pictures. However, he hadn't thought about how we would organize the students (I sent out for chairs to have layers, some standing on chairs, some sitting, etc). He hadn't thought about when we would take what pictures (I had us do Year 13 during their English class, because all Year 13s must take English, so they would all be in the same room at the same time).

In the States, the complete lacking of organization would have thrown everyone into chaotic turmoil. However, here everyone just took it for granted when they were told tomorrow is class picture day and then on that day we just randomly went around and grabbed classes of students out of their room and tracked down their form teacher to take their pictures. Completely disrupt all the classes on Wednesday, no problem.

The students did a great job though. All I did that day was stand around and supervise. The prefects on the magazine staff organized the students, instructed them in their poses, wrote down all the names in order and took the pictures. They also gathered all the classes. Lui, who should have been taking the pictures, some how lost his job and ended up running all over the school finding the form teachers. I guess sometimes when you are in charge you have to take on the shit job that no one else wants.

We didn't finish all the classes Wednesday. We had to do the Year 11s and the sports teams on Thursday. Lui came up to me concerned, "Um, Miss? I need to go to my classes tomorrow."

It is true. Thanks to taking pictures all day, I hadn't taught any of my classes, but I hadn't really checked to see if the students helping with the photo shoots were doing it during free periods or were skipping class to be there. Answer, skipping class. I reassured Lui that he did not need to be present for all picture-taking the next day, that he only needed to send me the magazine committee members (read: yearbook staff) who had a free period at that time. What ended up happening is I shot pictures all day on Thursday with intermittent help from students. I actually recieved the most help from Lofisa, one of the teachers and also the pule's wife. She is rock-tastic and I basically did all my organizing by turning to her and saying, "What would you do?"

Fourth Grade Boys Rugby Team

I tried to make it a little more organized on Thursday by distributing a schedule of sports teams to be shot that day during form period that morning. Things were still complete chaos. I spent the entire day standing in the sun taking pictures of sports teams (with a break to teach my one class) and burned the tiny bits of my skin visible in my puletasi.

Wesley College Staff

Friday was teacher picture day. We shot all the teachers together and then attempted to do departments, but many teachers started to wander off, so we still have to finish departments. I have also been informed that we must take house photos at some time. This will involve getting 1/4 of the student body at a time organized and in one place and fitting them all into a picture. It should be fun.

— Sara

The Way Back Machine.


Barb Carusillo said...

Who does take care of your classes when you are doing all this anyway?

Cale and Sara join the Peace Corps said...

no one

Skipper said...

hi miss, I was supposed to be in your class but got a free period instead..he he sweet.

Anonymous said...

" Great effort springs naturally from a great attitude."

I agree with the other blog reader :)