Two years ago, I met a struggling first-year yearbook adviser who invited me into his classroom to give him some tips. The first thing I noticed was that he provided plenty of space to display items for all the other subjects he taught, but if he hadn’t told me that he taught yearbook, I would not have known it! There wasn’t one yearbook-related item to be found.
I asked him if he had another classroom for yearbook, and he responded, “We do everything online.”
But there is SO MUCH more to yearbook than your lay-out software. Even if you’re using technology to organize your deadline, ladder, and events, the problem is that the kids need to sign in to see all that stuff. That means that they need to be pro-active and look for it. Now, I’ve worked with A LOT of students, and rarely do I meet one that is pro-active about their assignments. Unfortunately, most students need the visual reminders that there are things to be done and deadlines to be met.
I had a hard time explaining to him what a yearbook wall should look like. So, I sketched one instead. This was based on the yearbook area in my own classroom.
Now, you don’t have to do exactly what I did. But here are 11 things that I find very helpful:
1. YEARBOOK BINDER
Put together a staff binder with dividers so the entire staff can easily find important information. Sections of the binder should include:
Contact Information (phone numbers and addresses for your reps, the plant, staff members, etc. should go here.)
- Deadlines (easy-to-read list of deadlines goes here)
- Calendar (all deadlines and yearbook-related events should be marked on the calendar in this section.)
- Budget Updates
- Activities (this section can include projects and assignments for rare moments of “down time.”)
- Plant Correspondence.
2. WALL LADDER AND DEADLINES
Your yearbook publisher should have given you a wall ladder. Laminate it and use a wet/dry-erase marker to fill it in (things change!). Color-code each deadline on your ladder so that the entire staff can keep track of dates on which pages are due. Color-coding also helps the students see when events must be covered in order to meet deadlines.
3. SALES GOALS
Use Book/Ad Sales goals posters (included in your Herff Jones’ Spring Planning Kit) to keep track of sales visually. Have a celebration for every milestone!
4. PHOTOS & CAMERAS
Even if you are using the online library of your lay-out program, you don’t want to overload it with hundreds or thousands of unused photos. Develop a photo organizational system and train everyone on staff how to use it. Designate a computer or hard drive to keep all photos. Then keep contact sheets of all available photos in a binder. Organize by event or date. Put an “X” on used photos. Only upload chosen photos to eDesign. Keep memory cards and camera batteries in baskets labeled “used” and “new.” Have your Photo Editor recharge/catalog “used” items each day.
Place all mailing boxes, copy shipment forms, mailing labels and other miscellaneous forms and supplies on shelves or in cabinets with easy access for all.
6. MAIL CUBBIES AND MESSAGE BOARDS
Make individual mail cubbies for everyone on the staff or for every section. This gives you, other staff members, and people on campus a place to “mail” information to specific staff members, such as club rosters or sports schedules. The cubbies can be made from shoe boxes or even large envelopes tacked to the wall. Hanging file folders work well. Hang up a white board and label parts for every section. This is a great place to write messages as they come up, so you don’t have to try to remember the next time you see the section editor.
7. INSPIRATION & STYLE GUIDE
Keep magazines, old yearbooks, other schools’ yearbooks, and misc print pieces for design inspiration. Hang up your theme inspiration and a style guide.
8. EDITOR’S DESK
If you can give the editor a personal work space, he/she will be more productive. Remember the editor is ultimately responsible for putting the book together. Assign jobs for everyone on staff. Make a detailed chart of all the positions. The editors are the only people that report directly to you. Don’t be afraid to delegate.
9. PROOF BINDER
Ever seen “Ugly Betty” or “The Devil Wears Prada”? Remember “The Book”? If you’re not familiar with either show, both took place at a fashion magazines, and for each issue, they created a mock-up for the editor to proof. This book was sacred! You can create “The Book” for your staff by keeping a binder of the “Book In Progress.” You may need a separate binder for each section if you have a large book. Include a sheet protector for every page in the book. Print out pages as they progress and place into sheet protectors. This will make it easy for staff members to help proof pages and see the final book progress. Put Section Editors in charge of this.
10. STAFF ROLES AND PRESS PASSES
Post staff list so everyone knows who they should be talking to for what. Make staff badges or press passes with students’ names and photos. This badge may allow students into otherwise restricted areas or athletic events and will identify them as yearbook staff. T-shirts are another way to make your staff feel special. It’s fun to design the shirts to go with your cover or theme. You might also want to hang up sign out sheets for camera equipment.
11. JOB BOARD
Prepare slips of paper for you or editors to write small tasks on along with a due date. Have a designated “Job Board” area where staff members can look for things to do when they have free time. Examples include “Index Sports Section” or “Write page numbers on ‘Told You So’ cards”
12. FUN STUFF
Make sure you leave an area in your room for fun stuff. Post up mementos from staff outings. Leave a space to write funny quotes said by staff members throughout the year. Hang an elementary school birthday chart.
FYI: I visited the same adviser a month later, and he had created the board. He told me it made a huge difference in not just productivity, but team building. The staff now felt like they were a part of something.