Rachael Final Reflection



I think throughout this process, myself and my group have had a pretty strong sense of what direction we wanted our project to go in. We knew throughout the project that our goal was to bring awareness to climate change as that was the most pressing issue in the world for all of us. We always knew exactly how to pitch our story and why we were doing it to anyone that asked. The day I went to the Maple Syrup Convention, I had to pitch our story probably a hundred times to get interviews and contacts, but that clear self-direction is what got other people on board with  us.

The learning environment we were in was so new to me that at first, I really questioned whether or not I would be able to do this class. I had never worked with a team with that range of age, distance, or personality for that amount of time, but that is what challenged me throughout the course. I think our team’s success shows just how much we all learned from working in a blended environment. I have always been very good with deadlines, organization, and asking for help, but this was a particular challenge that I had to meet. In January, I think I proved most that I am able to be organized, manage my time, and do more than what is asked of me. I did my part in the project and was able to step back when I knew I was not needed.

When I needed feedback, I trusted my group and felt comfortable asking for any feedback or asking for help, and they were always there for me, which really helped us succeed.

Responsible and Involved Citizenship

In our project, my main role became collecting interviews and contacting people. For this, I had to listen to many point of views and go into the discussions without a preconceived opinion of the person I was talking to. This really helped me to appreciate each person I interviewed and take what they said as a piece of the story we were trying to tell. An example of this was when I went to the Maple Syrup Conference and I asked a speaker if I could record him talking about climate change and maple syrup, and he said “I don’t think you will like what you hear” and I said “I’m here to learn, not to prove a point I think I understand”. This helped us shape our topic and make sure our story was true and not just some fake scare tactic about how climate change is destroying the maple syrup industry, because that is simply not the truth.

I also had to have this same open mindedness with my group. We all had to be honest about strengths and weaknesses in projects like this so that we could determine who would do what. We had to take responsibility for our own parts in the group and be respectful to each member of the group so that we could collaborate.

Informed & Integrative Thinker

Throughout this process, I often had to think on the spot of how to analyze any information or interviews I did in order to try to fully understand the issue as a whole. This was mostly for purposes of research or figuring out what questions to ask people. I think that the more people I interviewed, the better and more precise my questions got because I was more informed and was able to reflect on my work. I think through this series of interviews, I was definitely able to help our group reshape our claim and develop a story that was both engaging and true.

Before we even started filming, we made a list of people we potentially wanted to interview which helped us stay organized. This list was mostly made up of people and planned on contacting. From interview to interview, I would usually try to decide who to ask next to get all sides of the story we needed to capture our message.

Clear and Effective Communication.

As far as listening goes in interviews, I think after each interview I did, my ability to listen to the answers of the person I was talking to and keep the conversation going based on what they said. At first, I would stumble around questions on a paper but by the end of the process, I knew the questions and I would just asked that questions that connected to their answers to build on their thoughts and emotions. I think this will be helpful in the future with job interviews or just having good listening skills in general.

We had to work on making our film applicable to our audience which meant having both scientific and emotional evidence of the issue. For me, this practice came out in the questions I asked, which were both based on what would happen to the forests and what would happen to people’s livelihoods. As for the style of the documentary, much of that had to do with how the interviews were filmed which is something I obviously took part in. For the purpose of the story we were telling, we wanted people to think “something isn’t right here if scientists and maple producers are concerned, so in order to help fix something I really care about, I want to get involved somehow” and I think we told that story successfully.

Part 2: Unexpected Learning

It was early spring and the sap was just starting to flow, or so I was told. It was Saturday at around 8 am and I was in a place I had never imagined I would be, which was made even more obvious when I walked into the building. Wearing a pink sweater and jeans, carrying a camera case, and looking very lost, it seemed as if every person in the lobby stared at me as if to say “I think you’re in the wrong place”, but I wasn’t. At the Maple Syrup Convention held annually at Lamoille Union High School by the Proctor Maple Research Center, there are information sessions and different buying opportunities open for maple syrup producers from all over the country. Whether they had a few hundreds taps just for a fun or a company made up of a few hundred thousand taps, every person there cared about the health and regulations of a sugar bush. However, most of the people there were middle-aged men sporting beards and flannel shirts, which made me seem and feel very out of place. I was by myself and didn’t know much about maple sugaring, so I was there to learn and hopefully talk to some producers about the issue our group was working on. Everyone there was very kind and when I explained what I was working on, everything made a lot more sense, but I had never been put in a situation where I had to put myself out there to adults who I really had nothing in common with. It was both awkward and enlightening. I learned I would never make a good sales person since I’m a bit too shy, but I also learned that I’m good at taking in information quickly and getting what I need. At each session I learned so much and usually met someone new who I would learn a bit from about their own experience sugaring. Eventually, I asked one of the speakers if I could record his session and he let me, despite the questioning looks I got from the crowd. Basically what I learned from this experience is that sometimes in life you’ll be put into awkward, unknown situations that you feel out of place in and sometimes you just need to do what you need to do and make the best of the situation. I also learned about how much the maple syrup industry means to some of the people I talked to which was pretty powerful. Sometimes we assume things about people by the way they look and think we know their whole story, I know I assumed a lot of things when I walked into that convection, but by actually talking to people I learned some really interesting things about them.


Final Comments on the Course: This has been an interesting class and I’m glad I chose to take it, but I suggest you think about what you are asking students to do, because we may be young adult film makers but we are still kids. I learned a lot from this class but not always in ways that were fair to ask of someone in my position (if you want me to expand on what I mean, I will). I understand that you want to have mixed grade groups and you want to give us independence, but that sometimes left certain people doing much more work at times when it wasn’t right to ask that of them and I think a little structure or guidance might have helped resolve that. I know that with the new grading system, we are supposed to take charge of our learning, but sometimes I felt very much so left alone on an island to figure out my learning for myself. I’m only saying this because I want the class to succeed more in the future and not have other people go through the same frustrations I did. The thought behind this class is great and I am very grateful that you guys are offering this to students across Vermont.


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