The Last Reflection: #10

Self Direction:

In the beginning of the year I struggled to come up with questions to create the foundation of our project. Throughout the year as our story developed it became clear to me that these questions were essential. Once our project started to get rolling, it became easier to make these questions and answer them, I think that over time I realized that these questions were always there I just hadn’t realized it yet. Questions included, but definitely aren’t limited to: What is the main plot? How or can this affect change? What is our next step? This can be used in my future when I am working on a project, whether it be at my job or at college. These questions are essential to creating a meaningful story or project and help you to set clear goals.

To develop these questions I had to manage my learning. We created deadlines for specific interviews, editing, taking b-roll, uploading footage, and other tasks that came up as our project progressed. We helped each other manage these deadlines by communicating about the struggles we had. Sometimes meeting deadlines meant asking our mentor, Abby, for help. One time I did this was when we were editing. The deadline we had set for our group was coming up and I was falling short. But once I was done editing I realized I had meant the deadline, early in fact. Deadlines will always be apart of my life and it’s good to understand how to meet them, especially in a timely and beneficial manner.

Feedback is one thing I struggle with. I can easily take in feedback and use it to better my work but I often have a hard time creating thoughtful, useful feedback for others. One way I managed this throughout the year was challenging myself and my team to give each other feedback on the work we had accomplished. At jobs in the future I will receive feedback, it’s something that helps people do their job better and by being good at giving feedback it can help you see ways you can improve yourself or your work.

Responsible and Involved Citizenship:

When we first started this project, our proposal was unclear as our project had not fully developed yet. But now that our story and message are clear, it’s easier to see the change that we want to implement in our communities and how we wish to go about that. Having a proposal is always important, no matter where I am, whether it’s at What’s the Story or my future job. It sets the foundation for the whole project and how your going to go about it. One example of this in my project is our mission statement, over time it was created into a foundation and got bigger as our project grew and expanded. It was something that we could go back to if we were unclear of how we were going to make change or what our projects future might look like.

During our project, we talked to many people with varying views and identities. In our documentary we addressed how gender equality wasn’t just for women, but all people and how it’s important to everyone, no matter your political views, race, religion, etc. If I were to ever go into journalism, I think this would be incredibly important. You have to understand that everybody is different in there own way, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t understand their opinion with respect. At one of our first meetings I had nothing to say about the progress our team had made, mostly because it really hadn’t been formed yet. But as the year went on we came to see how far we had really come.  We continually looked back to see a time when we didn’t have even a single interview, times when our mission statement was somewhere out in space, and saw how much progress we had really made. Often times in work settings and school groups you have to have strong teamwork, as each individual plays a role towards to greater goal. During this year I’ve come to see how important having a strong team is, as it makes working together so much easier and efficient towards completing our goal.

Informed and Integrative Evidence:

We used many different interviews to create a story. We also did a survey to understand the range of views and opinions in our community. With all of this we had to create a film that addressed many of these opinions, intertwining them together to create a powerful storyline. Throughout the film you can see the similarities, but also large differences, amongst the interviewees. They all have similar views, but very very different stories. In the future, as a part of a community, I think it’s important to recognize the differences and similarities amongst others and use that to build a web of ideologies that intersect to better understand our world.

When we started our project we just broke it into parts. Things like interviews, storylines, and how they all connected back to each other. Over time we used this to build our system or story around these different parts, as they all interconnected with one another. We had to figure out how to put together the right parts, eventually turning that into our story. This will help in the future to solve problems, by breaking it into parts and figuring out how to put them together. At first we just had some ideas of who we wanted to interview. Slowly as the year went by we realized some were more credible than others and we had to use that to make informed decisions about what sources or people we would use in our film over others. I got better at making decisions as I got more information about our project and the issues that we explored in our project. In life you have to make informed decisions using valid information so you know your making the right decision, this is important for a lot of things, like jobs and college, and even managing your life.

Clear and Effective Communication:

By the end of the year I was able to create strategies for myself to be a better listener, both for my group mates and the people I interviewed. What I found worked best for me was to just listen at first, taking in all the information. Then, I take a minute to pause and recap what I just heard. I then ask any questions that may arise from the summary I just made about what I heard. This works best for me because then I’m deeply thinking about what they said and not the questions I want to ask next. In the future I see myself using this for a variety of purposes, like becoming a better note taker or becoming better at listening to instruction and processing it in an efficient way.

During our website design process, one of the main questions is how do we as a group want to present ourselves and our project to the world. Whether that be the mood of website, bright colors versus neutrals tones, lots of photos versus more text, or whether it be the information we were presenting. Depending on how we wanted to portray our work we had to adapt our organization. I especially got better at this over time, because I had to deeply think about and discuss what exactly we were envisioning for the way we presented our project. It took me a while to figure this out but now that I understand the way that different colors, music, photos, and other design features help or hinder a project this can better the way I create future products and presentations, whether its for school or work. Similar to this, we had to adapt the way we were storytelling. It took us a while to figure out exactly what our storytelling techniques were. But through that we were able to learn about how different techniques create different effects and impacts.

The biggest thing I learned from this was that there’s no right way to tell a story, it depends on, one, the story your telling, and two, your audience. I had to adapt the way I envisioned our story being told as our audience and main focus changed. This is beneficial for me, both now and in the future, because it taught me that one way may not be the right way and that a good story teller has to learn to adapt based on different circumstances.

Unexpected Learning:

During this year one of my most vivid unexpected learning moments was when I realized that everybody around me has a story. I listened to people, interviewees, talk to me on camera about their stories. These were stories that I never would have really expected of them. But when I was editing, it became clear that these people, the ones who had so bravely opened up to me and my teammates, were just normal people like anybody else. Sometimes we get lost in our world that we forgot about the other people around us. These normal people had incredible stories, sometimes shocking, sometimes so joyful, and I was so lucky to get to hear them. You never expect to learn so much about a person, but when I look back, my interviewees told me about their whole life, the good and the bad. They talked about their childhoods, growing up in close minded worlds. It created a new perspective for me, that I wasn’t the only one who saw these injustices, that the people around me saw them too. What’s the story was a year of unexpected learning. I learned about the joys and the struggles of working with a group of teens, how the hardest work is often the most rewarding, and how we all have a story worth sharing. Unexpected learning is my favorite kind of learning, honestly. It’s the kind of learning you don’t see coming, but when you realize it, your so glad it happened. It’s the kind of knowledge that opens up your whole world and makes you think deeply about even the little things you see every day. I remember specifically one time talking with one of my interviewees, they gave such an in depth explanation of gender, something I figured they understood pretty well but never gave much thought too. Afterwards, when I looked back at the footage, I didn’t just see my teacher, I saw somebody who really understood what was going on in the world and was sick of sitting around waiting for it to change. They grew up in this generation that instilled in them closed minded views, but here they were sitting in front of me, giving one of the most well put together explanations of gender and gender stereotypes that I’ve ever heard. That was one my favorite moments of unexpected learning, and I hope I continue to have moments just like that in the future.

Grace Darrow

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