Berlin’s New Educator Gets Media Literacy Certification
NEW BERLIN, WI — A New Berlin teacher earned national certification last month to teach students how to think critically about the media they consume every day.
Jaclyn Jecha, a social studies teacher at New Berlin West Middle and High School, earned the PBS Media Literacy Educator certification in June.
The certification recognized educators who have helped learners from pre-K through 12 to think critically about media consumption and creation. The program included workshops that taught educators how to develop strategies to teach their students to be better equipped in the face of media.
Jecha worked as a media literacy educator for the Newseum in Washington before becoming a teacher. After entering the classroom six years ago, she saw the need for it more, she told Patch. She signed up for the PBS program when the opportunity presented itself on Twitter last summer, she said. “And I’m really glad I did.”
Jecha currently teaches American history and government to high school students in New Berlin West. In her classes, she immediately applied the PBS lessons she learned about analyzing and creating media, she said.
The program focused on critical media analysis, Jecha said. Lessons involved spotting whether or not videos have been edited, teaching students how to verify information from sources, and giving students tools on how to evaluate and verify media, she said. added.
How can people approach the media more critically? One method is the pause. If someone sees a dodgy post on social media, for example, they should pause before sharing it and do some research, Jecha said.
Another example is sideways reading. Each time a student opened a news article, they were encouraged to open more tabs in their browser and search for every item and every person and organization in a story.
Media companies that practice fact-checking and are transparent about their political biases encourage consumers to seek out good information, she added.
Teaching media literacy is important because of its holistic reach for both teens and adults, Jecha said.
“They’re on the internet. They’re tethered to their phones and they’re constantly consuming media,” she said. “Because there is so much, everyone needs to learn how nuanced it is.”
As an American history professor, Jecha follows the wisdom of the Founding Fathers with a quote from Thomas Jefferson: “Biggotism is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; the enthusiasm of the free and the dynamic. Education and free discussion are the antidotes to both.
“A lot of hate and miscommunication comes from ignorance,” she said. “One way to remedy that is to learn more, talk more, and bring more people into a room with differences and encourage conversation.”
Jecha was also named a James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation and will be pursuing a master’s degree in the fall. Her ultimate goal is to ensure her students are educated and vote in elections, she said.
“Of course it comes with education, discussion and just learning to understand each other,” she said.