Taking Big Risk Turns Into Great Rewards

By Jessica Siebert on April 5, 2016

Featuring Schuyler’s Media Teacher, Shanda Hall and her middle school students

Teaching lessons in the classroom and teaching lessons of life. Schuyler’s media teacher, Shanda Hall does just that. She is intentional about her teaching approach and has been for her 19 year career as an educator. She wants the best for her students and wants to get the best out of them.

So a few years ago, when Striv was adopted by Schuyler, Hall was the one who rose to the occasion. It is not like it was an easy class to pick up. It was not the type of class that she was able to pick up the lesson plans, take a look and say, ‘yeah, I can follow along.’ This class would be ‘from scratch’. This class would be a bit of a ‘risk’ because everything would be brand new and she would be the trailblazer. With all this in mind, Hall said she took it on because, “what a hypocrite I would be to tell my students and even my own sons to take risks, if I didn’t do it myself.”

So she did. She admits she initially felt lost and she didn’t like that feeling. Hall had no clue where to start and where to go once she did get started. But, Hall moved forward; with no journalism background at all and the feeling like she may be the least qualified teacher for this Striv stuff, she did it. Because she ‘took the risk’, she has been rewarded by watching what has been created; something extraordinary with the Schuyler middle school students that continues to surprise, amaze and evolve.

She begins her school year by teaching the basics: social etiquette, social awareness, sensitivity to the audience, eye contact. Her students learn body language, vocal filler use and posture. Everything about these lessons are activity based, things a student can’t just read and understand. This kind of learning requires the teacher to get the students to ‘do’ and to ‘grow’.

The students at Schuyler weren’t the only ones growing during the transition of developing this new class. Hall realized she was very much learning along with them. She says, ‘the learning curve for the teacher was very high, especially on the tech side’.

“What a hypocrite I would be to tell my students and even my own sons to take risks, if I didn’t do it myself.”

Hall took this class and with all her teaching abilities and experience, wanted to make it as good as it could be and wanted her students to get the most out of it that they possibly could, so she did something very special that may prove to be what possibly broke the barrier and will make this class great for years to come. She, with an open mind, asked her students to grade her anonymously. She wanted to know how they felt the class was going and wanted to grow right along side of her kids. In one word, she described how she felt reading critiques of herself: brutal. Brutal in the best way possible. She learned the areas she needed to develop the class more and what areas to teach more. She got the surveys back and read them and her immediate response was to get those very same kids back in her classroom. She wanted them to know she was going to ‘get better’ and make the class ‘better’. Hall let her students know that she was glad they were honest and she cares about them and the class will improve because they let her know what they had learned and what they wanted to learn more of.


Shanda Hall (right) and Schuyler students at the StrivU 2015 Fall Conference

Hall also realized that this was a class that she needed to ‘let go a bit more and let the kids just do it.’ So as the class moved forward to look into things like learning how to interview, camera skills, learning and using software, Hall said she wanted to ‘show the path, but will not lay the cement so they can pave their own way.’

‘show the path, but will not lay the cement so they can pave their own way.’

Her middle school class thrives off of these foundations now. Hall sees that, in so many ways, the broadcasting class and Striv has grown the students and meant so much to them. Hall talks about a student she has that didn’t speak English five years ago, but now does the PA announcing for the high school basketball games and her mom is able to come watch her be so successful at this. Hall talks about her class and how this group of middle schoolers were able to take an advertisement, that was not exactly what a business owner had in mind for their company, and recreate it to fit the business’ needs better.

The list of growth and successes can and will go on for Shanda Hall and her middle school broadcasting class. For Hall and her class, the risk may have been great, but the reward is proving to overshadow. Thank you Schuyler for being a great example of bringing out the best in teacher and students alike when it comes to sharing your story!

Schuyler Middle School 2nd Semester Class

Schuyler Middle School 2nd Semester Class


Interested in learning more about how your school can share their story with Striv? Go here.

Written by Jessica Siebert (StrivU Director)

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