Capturing the secret to your success: Staff Legacy Book required reading, writing assignment for editors and staff

Rob Melton

By Rob Melton
Final exams are around the corner, and a final exam in a media class can include a reflective essay that offers advice to a future staff member. For lack of a better term, I’ve called this a Legacy Book because it is literally what individual staff members believe is the secret to being successful, written to someone in the future who is just getting started.

I started this tradition more than 30 years ago when I began teaching, but back then it was the editor who wrote the letter of advice to the next editor. I gradually began adding other leadership team members until it seemed to be something the entire staff could benefit from. They wrote twice a year — just enough time to reflect upon the work they did and make some judgments about what worked, what didn’t, and some sage advice to pass along to future generations of staff members.

I left the legacy book we developed at my previous school, hoping that the new adviser would continue the practice, but knowing they probably looked at it and threw it out. That’s why I copied the last 16 years of the Tech Pep Legacy Book , and why I am posting it here with an explanation of what it is.

It is full of heartfelt advice from editors and staff, but it is also at times silly, funny, boring, outrageous and pithy. It is teenagers giving other teenagers advice. I stayed up way too late reading it — again — and nodding in agreement or rolling my eyes about what someone said.

I think it fulfills its purpose, which is to make the reader and writer think about a commonly shared experience, and reflect upon its challenges. I’m curious to know of others who somehow stumbled upon this idea. Or share your opinions about what these students have written. Or if you’re one of these students, about your reaction upon reading this years later. (There’s a place at the bottom of this page to start the discussion.)

JEA member Derek Smith’s lesson plan is here, and it’s great for a final exam for media classes:

Click here:

There’s a lot more that has been posted in the last week over at our journalism teacher wiki. check it out and tell us what you think, or better yet — add something of your own to share. Click here: