Recipe for a Successful Yearbook Program



Do you ever feel like you’re in the educational equivalent to the Food Network’s Chopped kitchen? You have a “basket” (classroom) of crazy “ingredients” (programs and curriculum) you’ve never used before and you have 30 minutes (no time) to create a “gourmet meal” (successful yearbook program)? Well, here are three basic ingredients found in strong, thriving, successful yearbook programs.

1.  Inspiration. Fill the classroom with all forms of design: yearbooks, magazines, college brochures, advertisements, posters, even web pages. The more varied the eye-candy around the room, the more creative the environment. Here’s a list of our favorite sites that inspire great design.

2. Collaboration. Join national journalism organizations like JEA, NSPA, CSPA, JEANC (or your local chapter), or ASJMC and subscribe to their list-serves. Contact the yearbook advisers in other schools near you to share ideas, frustrations and best practices. Attend national and local yearbook/journalism conventions, workshops and camps. Finally, create a system of staff teams to produce your yearbook pages. We all work better when we can share the load.

3. Organization. This looks different for everyone, but it is a key element to success on any level. First, purge and clean without hesitation. At its core, organization requires fresh space. Next, create workspace and collaboration space. Establish consistent meeting times and work times. Set up a communication system everyone on staff can access. This can be anything from individual cubbies or a bulletin board to gmail or yahoo mail to all-inclusive systems like Trello. Develop a clear staff structure with Job Descriptions and expectations. Build your ladder and deadlines in detail and stick to them. Make them visible to all staff members.

What other ingredients do have in your programs that you feel are essential to making your program successful? We’d love to hear them!

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