Service is one of the three components of a college faculty member’s job — and can have some magical results

Linda Barrington (NCTE liaison for JEA), Judy Robinson and Julie Dodd at the JEA booth at the NCTE Convention in Orlando. (Photo by Brian Wilson)

In Mass Communication Teaching, our on-going theme for the semester is the work of a college faculty member. The primary emphasis has been on the teaching component of the job, but we have discussed the other two dimension of a faculty position — research and service. Certainly research is an important component, and the most important of the three depending on one’s university and college goals.

But service is part of a faculty member’s work and can be an enjoyable and rewarding component.

One of my service activities is working to promote scholastic journalism (pre-college journalism), and I serve on the boards of the Journalism Education Association (housed at Kansas State University) and Quill & Scroll International (housed at the University of Iowa).

This is a background to explain why I was in Orlando last week at the National Council of Teachers of English Convention, making a presentation with colleague Judy Robinson on Multimedia Blogging. JEA has an NCTE Affiliate Assembly for Advisors of Student Publications, enabling us to reach out to English teachers who advise the school newspaper, yearbook, literary magazine, broadcast program, etc.

About 65 teachers attended the session Judy and I led on Multimedia Blogging. Of the group, about eight were student media advisors. The others were language arts teachers from elementary school to high school. A fifth grade teacher was interested in how to work around the age minimum for students to have a blog. (Have the teacher set up the blog with the students e-mailing their posts to the teacher to upload.) Others wanted to use blogs to promote discussion of assigned novels. They were eager to learn about blogging software and best practices.

Former UF grad student Gordon Van Owen now teaches middle school English in New York City. (Photo by Linda Barrington)

Just before the session started, Gordon Van Owen paid us a surprise visit. Gordon was a master’s student who both Judy and I had in classes at UF. He also was a teaching assistant with me. After graduation, he entered Teach for the  America program and is now in his third year of teaching middle school in New York City. He’d seen that we were leading a session and came by to say hi before going to a session. He was on the program the next day.

After our session, Judy and I discussed how innovative many pre-college English and media teachers were in their use of blogging in their classrooms. One example we’d shared was, Andi Mulshine’s blog for her sophomore journalism class at Communications High School in Monmouth County, N.J. Judy and I met Andi at the JEA convention earlier this month in Kansas City in a session about technology use.

We then headed to the exhibit hall so we could explore the book vendor displays with hundreds of book titles. Books for all grade levels. Fiction and non-fiction. Books to promote diversity. Books to encourage reluctant readers. The classics. New treatment of traditional books, including the Anne Frank graphic novel (presenting the story in comic book format).

I was one of the grand prize winners in Scholastic's drawing for Harry Potter goodies. (Photo by Judy Robinson)

I made my way to the Scholastic exhibit, as Scholastic is the publisher of the Harry Potter book series, and I wanted to see if they were giving away in Harry Potter goodies. As luck would have it, I arrived just moments before the drawings were to be held and was able to get a ticket in the drawing. Magically, my name was drawn. I won a movie pass to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One, a copy of the book, and a one-day pass to Universal Studios (which includes The Wizarding World of Harry Potter).

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