Exploring this Job
To explore a teaching career, look for leadership opportunities that involve working with children. You might find summer work as a counselor in a summer camp, as a leader of a scout troop, or as an assistant in a public park or community center. To get some firsthand teaching experience, volunteer for a tutoring program. To explore the area of journalism, join the newspaper or yearbook staff while in high school.
If you are interested in becoming a college professor, spend some time on a college campus to get a sense of the environment. Visit their Web sites to review their admissions brochures and course catalogs and read about the journalism or communications faculty members and the courses they teach. Before visiting college campuses, make arrangements to speak to journalism professors who teach courses that interest you. These professors may allow you to sit in on their classes and observe.
High school teachers who teach journalism may teach a variety of English courses, including journalism, or they may only teach journalism classes. Most high school journalism classes focus on the fundamentals of journalistic writing.
In the classroom, journalism teachers rely on a variety of teaching methods. They spend a great deal of time lecturing, but they also facilitate student discussion and develop projects and activities to interest the students in journalism. They make use of newspapers and other periodicals, show films and videos, use computers and the Internet, and bring in guest speakers (such as the publisher of the local newspaper or well-known journalists). They assign writing exercises and other projects. Journalism teachers often require their students to spend some amount of time working on the school's newspaper or yearbook.
Outside of the classroom, journalism teachers prepare lectures, lesson plans, and exams. They evaluate student work and calculate grades. In the process of planning their class, journalism teachers read newspapers and magazines and monitor other news sources, such as television, radio, and the Internet to determine class assignments; photocopy notes, articles, and other handouts; and develop grading policies. They also continue to study alternative and traditional teaching methods to hone their skills. They prepare students for special events and conferences and submit student work to competitions. Journalism teachers also have the opportunity for extracurricular work as advisers to the school's publications, such as the newspaper or yearbook.
Members of college and university faculty educate undergraduate or graduate students, or in some cases, both, in their areas of specialty. Journalism professors teach students about the fundamentals of journalistic writing, as well as more specialized topics such as investigative reporting, editorial writing, features writing, media criticism, and journalistic ethics. Some schools do not have a separate journalism department; many times journalism classes are taught under the auspices of the communications department.
The primary duty of a professor is his or her commitment to the students' education. Instruction takes place in the form of classroom lectures and in hands-on activities such as the actual publication of a newspaper, operation of a student-run television or radio station, or the creation of a news-based Web site. Textbooks usually supplement in-class learning, as do assignments, writing laboratories, exams, computers, local and national newspapers, and closed-circuit or cable television. Most professors teach three or four classes each week, totaling nine or 12 hours weekly. Much of a professor's time is spent preparing lectures and grading papers and exams, an additional two or three hours per class.
Journalism professors may also act as advisers for students. They set a certain amount of time aside to help students schedule a beneficial program of study, answer questions regarding their major, or any other aspects of college life. Not all professors serve as advisers; those who do may have a reduced teaching schedule to compensate.
Serving on department committees is another part of a professor's job. Topics such as academic or departmental issues, department budgets, equipment, new hires, or course curricula are often raised and discussed. Research and publishing both are very important responsibilities for professors. Publishing is a necessity to get and keep tenure-track positions. Tenure is a teaching status granted after a trial period that protects teachers from being fired without just cause. Professors who conduct research usually publish their findings in academic journals or books. In fact, college and university faculty members write many textbooks.