Brent Jaffe
Digital Media Teacher

Teaching good work ethic and leadership skills in the classroom.

I am a high school media teacher that teaches an introductory class in digital media to 9th graders. I feel that the maturity and skill level of my students requires that I provide a lot of control over the procedures and steps to the point that they do not have to take on a lot of responsibility and leadership for the projects they work on. But, soft skills and leadership are supposed to be incorporated into my class. The classes they take after mine incorporate much more independent work. I'm looking for suggestions or references that can help me begin building these skills in my class.  

  • Adobe Premiere Pro

    Edit media in its native format and create productions for film, TV, and web.

  • Dreamweaver

    Design and develop modern, responsive websites.

  • Photoshop

    Editing and compositing for photos, web and mobile app designs, 3D artwork, videos, and more.

  • After Effects

    Create motion graphics and visual effects for film, TV, video, and web.

  • Animate

    Design interactive vector animations for multiple platforms.

  • Illustrator

    Create beautiful vector art and illustrations.

  • InDesign

    Craft elegant layouts at your desk or on the go.

5 / 5 • 13 Ratings

Comments (15)

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Kenneth Stephens

Posted on 4/26/18 7:53:54 PM Permalink

Even though you have a great deal of structure in your class, you can still give them group projects to work on independently. At first, they will frequently seek your advice, but over time, they will develop independent learning skills. Responsibility and leadership can be learned this way. "Failure" is a great teacher, and all creative people learn that sooner or later. You can provide a safe, nurturing environment for letting them learn from their failures. (Ken Stephens, College Professor)​

enrique perez

Posted on 3/9/18 7:28:08 PM Permalink

Hi Brent. We are a part of SkillsUSA in my classroom. They have a ton of information on how to build skills and they also can provide you with more materials once you become a member with them.​ The thing is, you have to get yours students enrolled too so they can participate in regional chapter competitions for design or computer advertising (if thats your field)

9th graders are a challenge - I teach Sophs, juniors and seniors.

Going back to SkillsUSA, they gave me this handbook called: "Ignite" Activities that spark student engagement.

Go to their shop and see if you can find it online? or

Good luck! and keep on learning you can do it !!!

Linda Cuellar

Posted on 1/16/18 8:48:10 PM Permalink

Hi Brent,

Cooperative/collaborative learning using roles are a good way to teach skills to students in communication and leadership.

I am recently retired from teaching at the community college level courses in Mass Communication that I incorporated production in video. I am a fan of Alan November and decided that writing and creating tutorials would be a good way to use group skills in sharing responsibilities, meeting deadlines and working together to shoot some on-camera segments. I found that groups of 3-4 work best in projects that were 4-5 weeks in duration with scafolding of project goals, such as research, storyboarding, writing a purpose statement, prior to starting the production using Adobe Spark Video or a screen casting program, while some groups used video editing software.​ ​Our YouTube channel

Michelle Rauch

Posted on 12/7/17 11:42:04 PM Permalink

​I just stumbled on this discussion as I am new to the Educator Exchange. What a gem of resources. Thank you all!

Steve cabral

Posted on 10/18/17 4:35:24 AM Permalink

​thank you. Great post

Angela Wong

Posted on 2/25/17 10:53:38 PM Permalink

​I'm not sure if you're still looking for feedback as your post is from some time ago, but here goes. I have a work ethic block on my project rubrics that lists the following criteria:

  1. Used class time effectively and came to class prepared.
  2. Demonstrated perseverance and problem solving throughout the project.
  3. Actively participated in class and followed along with class demos.
  4. All work handed in on time, submitted to Google Classroom.

I also give them a participation score for participating actively in the project critiques at the end of major assignments. They need to have their project submitted on time to participate so if they don't, it's a zero that cannot be made up.

Another option that I started to use last year is Google Classroom. It's a wonderful platform to share the lessons with the students, including the due dates and supporting material. It lets you know exactly when something is late and you can email only those students who have not submitted the assignment to you yet through Classroom. ​It also puts the responsibility squarely on their shoulders in a way that seemed to be clearer to my students.

Another thing I have done with particularly troublesome classes (regarding getting work submitted on time) is to take points off for each day the work is not received. This limited their maximum score.

Hope this is helpful!

Robert Eaton

Posted on 1/19/18 7:39:20 AM Permalink

Hi Angela,

thanks for the suggestion. I love the idea you have of putting that as a component in the marking rubrics of assignments. I will add this to my next assignment.

Robert Eaton​

Colleen Pfeilschiefter

Posted on 1/23/18 7:16:31 PM Permalink

Great tips! I also use Google Classroom for all assignments, but had not thought of emailing those past due students. As a CTE teacher, I've also experimented with including a Professionalism outcome on the rubric, similar aspects to yours listed above​. The deal breaker is the turning work in on time - if it's late, they earned an F. Similar to getting fired in the real world of work! I prefer incorporating Professionalism as an outcome rather than taking off points for lateness because it creates a more tangible guideline and record of their productivity. Funny how some will self-access their professionalism as an A yet turn in the work late.

I'd love to know how you track their class participation and use of class time. It's quite time consuming to monitor students and maintain an active log for each of them daily in a large classroom

Jeff O'Brien

Posted on 6/15/18 1:28:16 PM Permalink

I use google classroom, but I also use Remind to send to all of the students when they have an assignment. I found that two different ways normally gets them to do the assignment. ​

Larry Rud

Posted on 5/13/16 2:32:57 PM Permalink

Hey Brent,

I feel your plight. I am finishing up my first year as a teacher at the high school level. I teach Photoshop to all grade levels but the bulk are 9th graders. I have struggled with the same issues you described in your post. For the last quarter I incorporated a new rubric that I went over with the kids. It lays out my expectations and how exactly I will grade them. Before I started this new system I had well over 50% of the class turning in work late. Now I would say only about 10%. I have a block on there were I grade them on professionalism in the classroom and that seems to be helping as well.

I hope any of this helps you and good luck!


Tessa McNamara

Posted on 11/6/16 4:53:07 AM Permalink

That rubric sounds fantastic! Would you be willing to share?

Vehicle Paint Protection

Posted on 1/5/16 12:03:05 AM Permalink

A teacher is a compass that activates the magnets of curiosity, knowledge, and wisdom in the pupils"

-Ever Garrison

Anchor Points

Posted on 12/24/15 2:45:09 AM Permalink

Well I think that your attitude and work ethic are going to rub off just nicely on your students. Well done and all the best.

Michelle Dennis

Posted on 11/25/15 4:33:07 AM Permalink

At our school, the students work in small groups to create their entries into the International Youth Silent Film Festival. The girls individually come up with a concept and try to sell the pitch to the class. The class has a silent vote to chose which ideas are to be developed and we set up small groups on each movie idea. Each student is given an individual role which is very clearly defined: Director, Cinematographer/Camera Operator, Costumes, props and make up, post-production. They prepare and plan, then have a one day incursion to make it happen. Afterwards, some of the group work on a supporting marketing campaign while the others do the post-processing and editing.

The reason that this task has been really successful is that it's carefully scaffolded but student-owned. We carefully match up the students with roles that either they would do well in or would give them scope for growth. Post task reflections on both their own performance and the group performance highlight what they could've done better. The teacher acts as a mentor rather than setting the pace.

Adobe Education

Posted on 11/23/15 6:22:34 PM Permalink

Hi Brent,

You may want to check out some of the resources we created as part of the Digital Careers Curriculum where we work on the soft skills. Below are some syllabi and activities that may help you. You may also want to check out the workshop Managing the Creative Classroom.

Best of luck with this and please report back what you finds works and how you built these skills. It is a really important topic and we'd love to hear more!

The AEE Team

- Introduction to project planning, project management, and teamwork
- Exploring Design Careers
- Design project review and redesign
- Peer review
- Presenting design projects
- Project Management and Planning for Design Projects
- Research and Communication for Design Projects