A life sentence

What’s my sentence? That’s the question I asked my social media students to ponder for their assignment this week. I wanted to join in because I think it’s an important exercise to distill what you want and who you are.  I am lucky enough to work at a job I love with people I enjoy and respect and terrific students who make me laugh and cry and marvel at what they’re able to do.

The assignment is based off of Daniel Pink’s “Drive,” a book about motivation. I found the trailer and thought the exercise was one that would work with students trying to develop a personal and professional brand. I’ve used over a few semester and students have a love/hate relationship with it. It’s hard, but at the end of the semester, they reflect that it was one of their favorite things about the class.


Here’s what I’ve come up with:

I teach and every day try to practice the idea that the power of telling people’s stories accurately, colorfully, compassionately in any medium can help change the world.

That’s a strong sentence. And my students probably think: “Hey, that’s not what I hear from her every day.” They hear: “What’s AP style? Use commas correctly. Where’s the nut graf? How many sources have you talked to? Don’t miss deadlines. Plan. Work hard.”

Through all of those statements, I’m trying to show students that every person’s story is important. We owe it to people to tell them accurately. We can use journalism to make the world a better place. We can treat our sources like people and recognize that every story is important to someone.

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