Well, That Woke Me Up; Did It You?

Well, That Woke Me Up; Did It You?
By Monette Benoit

Copyright by Monette Benoit. All rights reserved.

One Saturday morning, reviewing work from online students and court reporters I tutor, I read posts on an e-mail group. I came across three questions from students.

1: Why should students belong to professional court reporting associations?

2: Should students focus on realtime in school or focus on speed, then learn realtime later?

3: Are students taking longer to get out of school?

Then, within minutes, I read an e-mail that some students are being advised there’s no need to belong to NCRA or to read their JCR. I replied, “Gasp! Well, that woke me up.”

Each day, students I privately tutor forward emails: “What do you think? If he/she can’t do it, can I? Should I stay in school?”

My schedule may not permit me to answer all e-mails inquiring, “How do I do this?” Many reporting students who write share that they are looking for magic (as one wrote).

I reply to all my students holding each accountable for our word, our actions – an understanding we have from the first contact. (They share accountability is high in my Team-Tutoring.)

That Saturday morning, as I read responses and strong opinions, I winced.

I tried to sit on my hands, but soon I replied to their questions:

“Should I join my state and national associations?”

You need to know NCRA has a main focus ‘in’ students, schools, and instructors. NCRA lobbies for education; distributes grants; shares information with students, schools, and teachers. NCRA has a student newsletter (wherein this article was printed, April 2007) and a student forum, and it also organizes student seminars. Many court reporters sponsor students at conventions. Teachers have a private venue, too.

NCRA creates seminars for reporters, CART providers, captioners, students, and instructors per requests from membership. And it has liaisons with judicial groups, groups who are hard-of-hearing, deaf, lawyers, broadcast professionals and engineers.

NCRA, if requested, will advocate for a court reporter who may be replaced by alternative technology. One person or a small group cannot undertake what a national or state group is accomplishing.

All serving on NCRA task forces and committees serve pro bono. NCRA staff members are wonderful. They work diligently to assist each request. I cannot share how many ‘magical’ requests I’ve sent their way from students and myself. Staff shines each time.

NCRA has a mission and a focus of leading, sharing. Reporters and students need a professional organization, just as nurses, lawyers, and other professionals have national groups to educate, share, and advocate. Each NCRA convention works with the state association in which the convention is held, thereby involving more input, opinions, cooperation, further communication, and sharing. NCRA works with a boat-load of people, each freely giving time.

“Should I work on my realtime while still in school?”

When a judge or an employer seeks to hire court reporters, the question most asked is: “Do you realtime?” If a student waited to learn realtime this question will haunt you.Those students who do not realtime or are “workin’ on it” find jobs with less pay. Some find their job given to a voicewriter who will, for less money, tape the job, and then turn in the transcript. Judges and employers consumers are informed consumers.

Years ago I CARTed (communication access realtime) the national American Bar Association Judicial Division. Every judicial office within the ABA was represented save the U.S. Supreme Court. They were well informed about realtime.

Judges, courthouses, administrators, and lawyers are courted by huge electronic recording companies who will, for less, take the job of the nonrealtime reporter. During many conventions NCRA exhibits shows our unique, custom technology to explain how court reporters differ from ER, electronic recording, and voicewriters.

“Are students taking longer to get out of school?”

Students need high vocabulary and high spelling skills. Statistics reflect that many students enrolling in court reporting do not have these skills; high schools also reflect this statistic. The average newspaper is now written to a 14-year old’s vocabulary. Instant messaging, IMs, and e-mails, many say, have lowered vocabulary and spelling accuracy.

Students, in my opinion, do not practice structured hours – many because of work or family obligations – and free-thinkers, say, “I just don’t need that.”

Perhaps these issues are why I’m receiving so many requests to tutor students, especially home-study students.

Students I tutor reinforce these reasons each day sharing about their “brick and mortar” classmates and online students.

Many students practice while instant messaging, IMs, e-mails are arriving or their family is bustling nearby. Then they “throw their notes in the trash.” Many students will test and transcribe when convenient, later, permitting additional transcription time.

When I was a student, NCRA membership was mandatory. We were required to stand, giving reports from JCR articles with no notice. If you were not prepared that day – zero.

In days of old, we went to school all day, had hours of homework, to include additional hours (plural) each evening. We read nonfiction and history, as well as compiled reports using specific vocabulary — in addition to learning steno.

(Do I think this was good? Some days it felt as if I was, alone, barefoot on broken glass — yet I saw results. Results reinforced students who prepared graduated with rock-solid skills.)

Students not learning realtime have a different path – maybe a longer path. Many are inventing their theory on-the-fly, analyzing each word, and then working, in realtime, to “write it in one stroke.”

As an instructor, program evaluator, tutor, CART provider, author, and speaker, I’ve been in many a trench – hot and cold.

Students who focus on realtime early in school and stick to a proven well-tested theory will have smoother, easier transitions toward employment. Regarding students who do not belong to NCRA, might I suggest students contact peers – enlightenment is powerful – when “it’s at your fingertips.” We need you, trained and prepared.

Our future will depend on our ability to meet growing demands for our services. If we are unable to meet this demand, necessity may become the ‘mother’ to deliver our skills. Yet we now have savvy tools to maintain our leadership in schools with students and with people who rely upon our verbatim skills.

The reason I wrote, “Well, That Woke Me Up” – perhaps if more students were aware of benefits and how NCRA and state associations aid and abet students and court reporters, it would be more evident how NCRA has a mission to make us stronger against technology which seeks to replace us.

Oh, and another plus side, NCRA and your state association are wonderful ‘yards’ in which to make connections and contacts for future work. Great new friends will change the path on which you tread.

My hand is extended out to you — come, join. Let us help you.

Monette, Court Reporting Whisperer, may be reached: Monette@ARTCS.com and Monette@CRRbooks.com

Monette Benoit, B. B.A., CCR, CRI, CPE, Paralegal

Tutor, Motivational Management & Career Coach,
Multiple-Title Author of Books & Test Prep for the Court Reporting and CART Captioning Industry
Realtime Court Reporter, Instructor, Consultant, Columnist

Court Reporter Reference Books & CDs: www.CRRbooks.com
Blog: Monette’s Musings, www.monettebenoit.com

* Educational/Career Advancement; Private Tutoring/Customized Coaching

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Tutoring and career coaching topics include:
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About Monette Benoit:
As a 25+ year court reporter, CART Captioner, author of NCRA test prep material, and an instructor, public speaker, Monette Benoit has taught multiple theories, academics, all speed classes, and the 225 homeroom within NCRA-approved schools and a community college. She understands the challenges many adults now face in our industry and schooling.

Monette Benoit has worked with thousands of professionals, court reporters, CART Captioners, students, and instructors.

She has also helped to create new court reporting training programs, worked with federal grants, and assisted instructors in developing curriculum for both in-class and at-home students.

Her one-on-one tutoring, private coaching, has greatly assisted thousands of students, novice and experienced professionals to privately reach the next level.

Monette’s Musings is a blog containing information for busy professionals, students, and individuals who are fearless and seek to create their success each day. Reach up. Bring it. Bring it. * Bring it today!

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