Beth Colman Educator in the Workplace Journal June 22-26, 2009 Main Line Today Internship Monday, June 22 Today is my first day at Main Line Today Magazine. Hobart Rowland, the managing editor of the magazine, is my contact and will be overseeing my week-long internship. The magazine’s offices are located in Newtown Square, PA, which luckily is only about 15 minutes from my house in Chesterbrook, PA. I was nervous on my first day! It has been almost 10 years since I’ve worked in a business setting (I worked in the “business world” before I became a teacher), and I was anxious about returning to that workplace setting. Would I like it? Hate it? Would they like me? Hate me? So many questions ran through my mind. I arrived right on time in the morning. Hobart wouldn’t be in the office that day, so I was to report to Tara Behan, a senior editor. I walked into the offices and my first thought was how small a workplace it was. So many people were forced to work in such a cramped setting! But no one seemed to mind too much. The area was a combination of small offices and many cubicles – lots of cubicles. They had actually recently expanded! I can only imagine how much smaller the space used to be and how difficult it was to keep from feeling like folks were working right on top of each other. There was a large conference room and also a small kitchenette area where many people stored their lunch for the day. (Lots of people brought their lunch – very likely due to the current economy.) Anyway, I met Tara right away and she showed me to a cubicle where I would be working for that day. Then she brought me into her office and gave me my first assignment: research a house tour she’d heard about in Avalon or Stone Harbor, NJ taking place in either July or August. Then bring the information to her. This was no real problem – actually the biggest problem I encountered in my research was navigating a MAC computer. At PV High School, we all have PC’s, and I’d never used a MAC before. But with some trial and error I was able to successfully use the MAC and complete m y “assignment” and give the results to Tara. After that, she gave me my next assignment: update their Health & Wellness database for their upcoming Health & Wellness issue. That task took the remainder of the day since the database was only partially constructed. At the end of the day I emailed all of my results to Tara plus gave her a hard copy. I was worried about making mistakes or doing something “wrong” on my first day, but Tara said I did a great job and she was happy with the results I gave her. So I felt good leaving “the office” that day. I was tired! But I felt good! Tuesday, June 23 Today I reported to Hobart Rowland since he was back in the office. But first I ran into my former student Adam Polaski! It was so great to see Adam. Adam is interning with Main Line Today a few days each week all summer, so we spent some time quickly catching up on his first year at Ithaca. Afterwards, I sat down with Hobart and had a chance to ask him all of the questions I had about the magazine industry – and specifically Main Line Today. He was wonderfully accommodating with all of my varied questions. I learned how much the economy had hit the magazine (not too badly – but they were forced to let got of a few writers) and how it compares and contrasts to other magazines of a similar style (Philadelphia Magazine, etc.). Main Line Today is family-owned and operated, which contributes to its more stable standing in the magazine industry. They have always been conservative in their spending over the years, so now that the economy is forcing other magazines to make drastic cuts due to a drop in circulation, Main Line Today isn’t suffering as much because they’ve always held back on their spending. I also learned about the timeline and process of producing a magazine from start to finish. Currently they are working on the August and September issues of the magazine. After an informative conversation with Hobart, he gaveme my next assignment: update the Hospital guide for their Health & Wellness issue. It was a task requiring research and editing. I knew it would take more than one day to complete, but Hobart seemed to anticipate that. He set me up at a new workstation (that’s what they call them) and I got to work right away. I worked with a MAC computer again (they’re all MACs in the magazine industry because they work so well with combining art and editorial). This one was tricky because it was a little old, but I did my best and got as much done as I possibly could that day. I went home tired – again! But it was a good day. Wednesday, June 24 I was excited for today, because today Hobart said I would be sitting in on three different meetings: a full staff meeting, a cover meeting, and an editorial meeting. The staff meeting started early in the morning. Everyone was involved – all directors of all departments. People even drove up from Delaware (part of the staff of the magazine works out of their Delaware offices) for the meeting. The meeting was well organized with an agenda for everyone to follow. Each department director provided an update to the entire staff, and then everyone reviewed the most recent issue of the magazine together. It was a great collaborative meeting and it was clear how valuable it was for everyone to sit down in one room (once per month) and communicate with each other about what was happening in each department. Email is great for business communication, but sometimes you just need to sit everyone down face to face to really get things accomplished! The meeting lasted approximately an hour, and then everyone left to work on their own tasks for the day. Hobart asked me to stay along with a few others so that they could have their cover meeting right away. The art director posted 11 different potential cover images for the August issue on the wall for all of us to view. We gradually threw out one image after another that just didn’t look right for the cover until we were left with 2. I was really surprised that Hobart actually asked my opinion about the potential covers. I provided my 2 cents, and then everyone made a final decision. The cover I liked best was chosen! I can’t wait to see it on the stands in August! The art director seemed a little stressed out and negative during the two meetings I attended with her, but I realized that she’s under a lot of pressure to meet deadlines for the magazine, and some people don’t do too well under pressure. Hobart on the other hand was always cool as a cucumber. It became clear to me that he’s the managing editor for very good reason. I went back to my hospital guide, doing research and editing copy. Then later after lunch Hobart asked me to sit in on the editorial meeting. There were only 5 of us in the room. First we reviewed editorial scheduled for the August issue and provided feedback to each other’s work, and then everyone brainstormed ideas for the September and October issue. It was great to see the brainstorming process in action! It made me realize that I’d like my students to spend more time doing round-table editing and proofreading to maximize the amount of feedback they can get from their peers. Why get feedback from 1 student when you can get it from 3 or 4? After the editorial meeting, Shannon, one of the editors in the meeting, asked me if I’d like to write the piece they’d planned for the Scarecrow Festival at Peddler’s Village. I said yes of course! But I was nervous. I’ve written hundreds of recommendation letters for students over the years, but rarely do I get to write something of my own, outside of the letter format. So she gave me details and told me to research the Festival and do a small write-up (very small – I had to keep it to only 150 words! – ah, the editing process at work again!) So I tried to finish up more of the hospital guide while researching the Festival. And then it was time to go home. And yes, I was tired again. Thursday, June 25 Today Hobart told me to focus on writing the piece for Shannon since I was leaving the next day. So I got right to work on that. Before lunchtime I had forwarded her the copy for the write-up. After lunch she asked me to research a contact person at the Festival and ask about having them send us pictures of prior festivals that we could use with the write-up for the magazine. So off to work I went on that task. It was easy, thankfully. And by the end of the day Shannon had everything she needed from me! So I went back to work on the hospital guide. This was a fast day because I spent so much time researching and writing and then editing and revising. But it was a great day because I really felt like I accomplished something fun that was my very own! And it was going to be published in the magazine! Pretty cool! Friday, June 26 Shannon asked me this morning if I could come up with a catchy title for my write-up on the Scarecrow Festival. I had a hilarious time coming up with corny titles, and I had so much trouble narrowing it down to one title that I submitted about 10 different ones to her and asked her to pick which one she thought would be most suitable for the space allotted in the magazine. She loved my suggestions, and we both agreed on a very short title for the piece. Then I finished the hospital guide! It was lengthy but worth the effort. The finished product looked so much better than what I’d started with – it hadn’t been revised in years. After that, Shannon showed me how the magazine is uploaded onto their website each month. She spent about an hour showing me how everything works “behind the scenes” on the magazine’s webpage. It was truly fascinating. Thursday and Friday flew by because I was trying to finish everything up before the end of the work day Friday. But I got all of my “assignments” completed and felt great at the end of the day on Friday. Yes, I was tired! But it was worth it! Final Reflection: This week I learned so much about the magazine production process from an editorial perspective. I was so impressed the way Hobart Rowland truly immersed me in a little bit of everything having to do with Main Line Today, from updating guides to sitting in on meetings to writing a piece for the magazine. I really thought he might just sit me in a cubicle and forget about me for the week, but that’s exactly the opposite of what happened. I learned so much about the magazine and how the editorial process is conducted from the planning stages to its completion. Main Line Today magazine is a local magazine that highlights the best parts of the Main Line and surrounding suburbs, and it was so interesting to see how the editors come up with ideas for stories about local folks and the contributions they’re making to the community. I truly felt like I was one of their equals while working in the Main Line Today offices. No one made me feel inferior despite my being a classroom teacher. They embraced m e as a willing worker and genuinely listened to my opinions (although I really tried to just stay quiet and do a lot of listening – you learn so much more that way). The entire staff was pleasant (although a few folks did have their frustrated moments, but again I chalk that up to deadlines – it makes everyone stressed out!). And everyone made a point to make me feel welcome, even if I didn’t work with them directly. I was truly impressed with the magazine that this group produces on a monthly basis. It’s no small task to put together a magazine of this stature each month, but somehow through hard work and team effort they do it time and again. Spending time in the “business world”made me me appreciate my own job as a teacher. It’s a different world out there – with lots of cubicles! But most of all I realized that everyone suffers job frustrations and setbacks. They happen everywhere, not just in the classroom or in the department meeting or faculty meeting. You have to learn to work with all different personalities, because if you don’t, you won’t be successful – that’s the plain truth. I truly enjoyed my experience at Main Line Today and cannot compliment Hobart Rowland and his staff enough on embracing me with open arms and creating their own sort of “teaching” environment for anyone willing to learn (they must have at least 8 interns there this summer alone!). I only hope that more teachers will take advantage of a program like this one because it not only taught me about an industry much different (but also quite similar) to my own, but it also gave me a new appreciation for the job I do in the classroom, as well as a few ideas for some lessons I can prepare for my students! Unit Plan: Educator in the Workplace Business Name: Main Line Today magazine Address: 4699 West Chester Pike Newtown Square, PA 19073 Telephone: 610-325-4630 Fax: 610-325-4636 E-Mail: email@example.com Contact person: Hobart Rowland Home School District: Perkiomen Valley School District Teacher’s Name: Beth Colman Grades and Subject Taught: 11th Grade English Unit Plan Name: Editorial Review for Writing Assignments Grades and Subject Taught: designed for 11th grade students Skills: Teaches editorial revision skills and interpersonal/collaborative skills Teaching Time: One day (can be used for any writing assignment) Lesson Plan: Editorial Review for Writing Assignments This lesson can be applied to any writing assignment in any classroom. My plan is to use this after students have drafted essays. Set: Students will have at least 3 copies of their completed drafts (typed for legibility) in class for today’s lesson. Tell students we will be focusing on one of the key steps of the writing process: revision. One of the best ways to revise one’s writing is to have another pair of eyes review it – someone who can provide a neutral perspective and give honest, constructive feedback. Today we’re going to take it one step further and provide more than one pair of eyes to give feedback, which will result in an even better final paper once revisions have been made for the final draft. We’re going to call this process an “editorial review meeting”. Activity: Arrange students in groups of 3 or 4. Explain that we are going to conduct an editorial review meeting to do some peer revision of each other’s work, but this time we will be doing it in a round-robin setting, where everyone reviews everyone else’s work and then provides feedback. Groups will devote 10 minutes to one person’s paper. First, one group member will hand out copies of their essay to the other group members. Group members will spend only 5-10 minutes reading the essay and making suggestions for revision on their copy. The teacher will call time after 5-10 minutes (with prompting to keep them on task) and then the group will spend 3-5 minutes discussing their feedback to the writer of the essay. The writer of the essay will collect their peers’ revision copies and use them to make revisions to their paper for their final draft. Then, the group will repeat the process with another group member’s essay, and so on until all essays have been read, revised, and discussed among the group. Each student will come away from the “editorial review meeting” with feedback from their peers that they can use to help them revise their essays. Extended Learning Activity: Students should take their valuable peer feedback home and revise their essays. Final drafts will be due the following day. Closure: Ask students to take one minute with their group members to come up with 3 benefits of holding “editorial review meetings” when revising a writing assignment. Have each group share responses with the entire class.
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