I have been fortunate enough to serve as a creative producer on educational series television and associated EdTech content, for the USA’s sixth largest school district, Broward County. Just north of Miami-Dade, this county has over 100,000 k-12 students, and an eclectic mix of ethnic backgrounds and languages.
During my nearly seven years in service, my peers sought fit to prize me with an Emmy®, a Silver and Bronze Telly, an International Platinum AVA, and other awards, including a Foster Fellowship for Emerging Artists Grant (which helped me to launch my S-Corp, Tempest Digital, Inc.).
Further, I aided the broadcast facility where I was stationed, to transition from standard definition analog, to high definition digital production and post. I spearheaded efforts to update studio production to a chromakey setup, saving hundreds of hours of manual labor, and tens of thousands of dollars in additional staging, lighting, and labor costs.
I helped in the shift from antiquated tape, to a fully digital capture pipeline for production, from the studio to master control. From there, thanks to a grant from Apple with an XSAN, we enabled post-production teams to shave days off having to capture digitally from tape. We also saved hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of labor costs for transfer, tape purchases, and the requisite storage in a very expensive, temperature controlled vault that had to be hurricane-proofed.
When I moved to the west coast, I shifted gears from k-12, to undergraduate and certificate instruction in: video production and post, motion graphics, photography, animation, compositing, film theory, et al.
While my technical approaches have changed with the times, my overall philosophy about instruction has not changed that much over the years. I credit the amazing teachers I had throughout the USA and Caribbean, in multiple languages, who helped me to model this approach by example. Also, these same methods I would apply to a classroom, are not that dissimilar from ones I would employ in leadership.
Every classroom is its own mix of community, everyone is unique, and because students will all learn in dissimilar ways, it is part of my job to create an appropriately stimulating and engaging environment.
One of my goals, is to aid every student in the development of their learning style(s). I will demonstrate curriculum that incorporates these various modes of learning, while making the content relevant to their professional aims and interests. My other responsibilities are to identify what it is students are passionate about, assess where they excel, and to advance that potential with positive motivation.
I want all my students to know they are safe to be their authentic selves, even if they have yet to discover who and what that is fully. They are free to explore, question and stumble without judgment, while growing creatively, emotionally, socially, mentally, and artistically.
When students feel safe, they are more likely to share their ideas and opinions. As they get stronger and more confident, they become resilient enough to be vulnerable, so they take the kinds of risks that make them better artists, professionals, and well-rounded human beings.
Teaching and learning are both life-long processes. An instructor must remain open to learning as much from their students, as their students learn from them. It is also an educator’s duty to model the necessity of continuous learning, while being honest when they do not know something. There is no shame in letting a student know when one has been stumped, so long as one can follow up with the required information for later instruction.
Whether one learns from a master, in collaboration with others, and/or as an autodidact, it should always be parallel with independent and critical thinking. When equipped with the capabilities to evaluate and validate that which is being learned, it can then be best synthesized and applied to the wants and needs of the individual, their immediate community, and society at large.