How schools can make a difference today
Every high school teacher remembers growing up in an era of PA systems when morning announcements were nothing more than a monotone recitation of the school pledge, followed by a restless and fidgety minute of silence, only to be topped off with cursory information for the day that had to be elaborated by teachers in classrooms anyway. It should come as no surprise that a growing body of governors and principals who grew up in that era might not attach a lot of importance to morning announcements, considering the fact that they have been desensitized to its possibilities over the years.
If we told you that morning announcements were a great way to get students more interested in academics, extracurricular activities and prepare themselves to be ahead of their competition once they leave school, you will likely take our assertion with a liberal dose of salt or perhaps smile inwardly at our apparent naivety. But that’s where you would be wrong.
The great philosopher and statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb talks of anti-fragile systems – systems that gain from disorder. A strong system would be one that can withstand a lot of pressure, but would eventually give in. A weak system would be one that cannot – the kind you would put “Handle with care” stickers on. An anti-fragile system is one that can gain from disorder and grow even stronger. For instance, if there was an anti-fragile package, you would put a sticker on it that says “Please mishandle”. As educators, it should be our goal to train our students to be anti-fragile so that they make the most of the adversities that come their way and turn it to their advantage. How can morning announcements help them become more robust and risk-tolerant? Let’s dive in.
What do students learn in the process of creating morning announcements?
First, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Morning announcements are an easy way to spread school news and organizational information for the day. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. With a little bit of investment and training, you can turn morning announcements into a wonderful opportunity for your students to prepare themselves for life beyond school. After all, they get to learn everything from journalistic principles to video production in the process. Let us take a look at some of the skills your students will end up developing and the ways in which those skills will benefit them later on:
- Video production – All you really need is a DSLR with video recording, a couple of lenses and mics, a green screen, lights, and a tripod. The budding Spielbergs in the student fraternity will take to it like fish to water and help the news team produce stunning sections every day. In due course, other students also get to train themselves by observing and learning. This is something that will come in very handy when they apply for college. An application that says that a student handled an entire studio set up in school, researched, scripted and shot news every day is nothing to scoff at. Plus, they get to carry the skills over to their college.
- Journalistic principles – In an age of instantly consumable memes, comics and clickbait content, students are finding it very difficult to tell sponsored content from genuine news. This will undoubtedly harm them in the long run when they have to vet a story based on first principles. This is all the more reason why they should be trained to look for news in their local community. Not only will they have something interesting to offer every morning, but it will also be novel as it will most likely be news that can’t be found online. They can also invite guest speakers once a week – it can be an adult role model from the local community, someone from the school board or even a radio host. If the interview is done the right way, the adolescent audience will set aside their smartphones for a while and try to pay attention to what is going on.
- Subject specialization – Who says that students have to wait till college to specialize in the subject that they are interested in? Major developments keep happening in almost every field on a daily basis and we are willing to lay odds that you have students who are excited about some topical development or another. Invite them to take part in the morning announcements and have them explain what they are good at to their fellow students. Not only is this a great way of starting a discussion, but this also is not entirely out of the purview of academic activity either. For instance, you can integrate academic content into the production. It will lead to healthy debates among your students and they will begin to understand the real-world applications of the subjects that they learn about daily. These are just a few factors that will set them apart from the thousands of run-of-the-mill college applicants.
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The most unassailable benefit of beefing up the way you do morning announcements is the sense of camaraderie and unity it promotes among your students. It goes without saying that many hands and minds come together to produce the daily sections, and a well-polished production is something that will make the other students feel proud of the fraternity to which they belong. You can also stream the production online. This makes it a lot easier for parents working in far-flung locations to keep up with what is happening at their kid’s schools.
There is no denying the fact that such a collaborative effort on a daily basis will foster and promote a sense of unity among your students. Before you know it, students will be volunteering to take part in the morning announcements. And as the age-old adage goes, the more the merrier. It also bears mentioning that it will work wonders for their academic performance and equip them with research, production and presentation skills that will put them ahead of the curve once they go to college. So, don’t jump on the bandwagon and ignore this everyday ritual. Turn this into something special for your students and your school.
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