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A day in the life of the teacher!

Oct 30, 2015

It goes without saying that there are many people who make up the incredible team at Bus Stop Films; however it is Genevieve Clay-Smith who is teaching, mentoring and delivering the Bus Stop Films, film studies program. 12 students each year are involved in producing their own film under her guidance. Some of these films have gone on to appear in famous film festivals around the world! So, this week’s blog post explores the day in the life of her role as teacher and mentor at Bus Stop Films!

By Paris Cutler

Can you please describe what your job entails, and the day to day aspects of what you do?

Teaching the Bus Stop workshops entails creating aims and outcomes for the course, creating lesson plans and workshops that will realise those aims and outcomes, as well as engaging industry professionals to teach in their own areas of expertise. There’s a lot of prep work involved then when you are teaching, you have to be engaging and you have to find innovative ways to help the students learn. When I am teaching I make sure I have lots of energy and patience to ensure that the classes are exciting and that I’m giving each student the time they need to process and comprehend the information. Also, if something isn’t working in class, I need to work out what isn’t working and change my approach on the spot which might mean throwing my pre-prepared class plan out the window!

How would you describe the working atmosphere and the students with whom you work?

The working atmosphere is dictated by our values, I expect everyone in the class to be respectful, and supportive of each other. Most importantly though, I try to create an atmosphere of passion around learning. I hope that all the students catch my passion for film studies and that they in turn, will become passionate about learning. All my students have different learning styles and communication styles, but one thing that unifies them is that they all love film, storytelling and learning.

What aspects of your job do you find the most satisfying?

When I see students develop and realise the aims and outcomes I’m working towards. One student who started with me four years ago is completely different to when she first walked in. She was very shy, scared of speaking in front of the class and she didn’t feel confident writing. Over the past four years she’s practiced her reading and writing in our classes and a few months ago after our final class she handed me a handwritten note and then a week later at a community screening of one of our films, she was the first to volunteer to answer audience questions – and she answered them very passionately. It’s a complete turnaround and there are many other similar stories – that’s what I find satisfying.

What particular skills or talents are essential to be effective as a teacher?

Passion, passion, passion. You can’t make someone excited about something you’re not excited about. You have to be passionate about developing people and you have to be passionate about the students you’re teaching. You also have to have high expectations of them, I never give up on a student and think ‘they’ll never be able to do that’ I once spent 20 minutes coaching a student to write a particular word in their booklet, if I gave up at 19 minutes, they wouldn’t have written the word – which was a big break through. You have to believe in the people you’re teaching and give them the opportunity to succeed.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your job?

Working out how best to help each individual to learn and gain as much from the course as they can. Everyone is different and sometimes it takes time to work out how to best help a student.

How do you measure your success?

Conducting surveys and recording data that indicates whether or not the course is helping students to realise the aims and outcomes that I’ve set.

If you were to list the top 5 things about Bus Stop Films what would they be?

  1. It’s not just about making a great film, it’s about an individual’s personal development.
  2. We uniquely exist to give students a film school experience and get film industry professionals to mentor our students.
  3. We value excellence and have high expectations of our students. Many in society do not give people with an intellectual disability the opportunity to succeed or fail because they underestimate them. I believe we need to support people to reach their full potential and if they fail – we help them to try again – it’s the same lesson everyone else learns.
  4. We have fun!
  5. Through our films, we reach global audiences to spread messages of inclusion.

What does 2016 hold for you and your students?

A new film project which is very exciting, I have a new group of students who have just begun with me and we are aiming to have our script finished by the end of December – but that’s all I can reveal for now!