SRL Connected Educator of the Month: June 2017

Every year SRL staff look forward to the Academy because it gives us a chance to get to know some of our student reporters better and work with them one-on-one. Another big reason we love the Academy: Mike Conrad. When it comes to teaching kids how to shoot video and love journalism, no one is more of an expert than Mike, who teaches video and television production at Royal Oak High School in Michigan. Every year we get to spend a week with him and several of our other great teachers learning how best to connect with students and teach them about broadcast. Mike’s easygoing attitude and sense of humor make him one of the reasons SRL Academy continues to be a success year after year. We can’t wait to see him again next week! 

What is your teaching philosophy when it comes to storytelling?

Do not presume your audience has prior knowledge of your topic. It’s ok to over-explain something, it is not ok to leave out information that leaves your audience feeling uneducated or lost. And, take that big story and bring out the story of the little person to whom your audience can relate.

Would you rather live a year without radio or without television?

Definitely without television. I spent the first 20 years of my career in radio. It holds a very special place in my heart. I always loved the portability of radio and the ability to use radio as secondary or background source of entertainment, and for the theater of the mind to take over in any circumstance. Plus, I’m an absolute musichead. Can’t go anywhere without it (listen to the music/lyrics of Spirit of Radio by Rush)!

How can student reports help promote a greater understanding of the world?

By simply giving us the student voice. Students of this generation are so much more worldly and so much better informed. With innumerable sources of information and quality portable equipment at their disposal storytelling has never been more accessible. The delivery of the product has never been easier, but perhaps the efficiency of the getting the product to right audience needs to be honed. Let’s give the students the power to find the way to get their stories to their intended audiences.

How can we get youth more interested in the news?

If we can show the relevance of current events and how it relates directly to youth, we can open up the door for students to have a voice in their world. But the connections must be made for students to understand the power of their voice and their opinions.

How can we teach youth to be more inquisitive in the world around them?

Inquiry in everything. In my opinion, the most important aspect of the learning process begins with the statement of inquiry; what are we looking for and how does it relate us? If we can get the students to utilize inquiry in all areas of their information gathering, instead of being just passive witnesses to information, we can move the needle a little bit.

What do you hope to accomplish with SRL?

SRL serves an important goal. To give students the real world application of the curriculum we teach. But with the content coming only from the teachers, the students need an Oprah. SRL is the Oprah of my classroom. What does that mean? I could tell my wife something 25 times, but when she hears Oprah say the same thing the students are suddenly “did you know …” or “did you hear what Oprah said?” Even though we cover the curriculum content with our students, the classroom environment turns into “did you hear what Jordan said?” SRL becomes the voice of reason and validation we need to extend greater trust with our students.