Five Simple Ideas for – Motivating Seniors

by Lynn Bare-Hester
Posted in: Five Simple Ideas, Spring 2008, Staff Management

When school starts and your staff is excited about the new year and the new book, it seems like everyone is working together. As the year progresses, senioritis hits and sometimes becomes a roadblock. Over the years I’ve found several ways to keep the seniors motivated to continue working until graduation.

1. Before school starts, meet with each returning senior. Emphasize the important roll that he or she will play as a senior. Then, incorporate the concept of yearbook buddies. Assign each senior (and returning staffer if needed) a new staff member to mentor. If the senior knows a new staffer and wants to work with him or her, make them a pair. Since the senior now has a trainee, he or she should work longer and harder to be a good example. Many times a new friendship comes from this mentor/trainee pair.

2. Give every senior a job. Three years ago I had an abundance of seniors and a baby on the way. I needed all the help I could get, so I increased editor positions on the staff, giving as many seniors as possible a title. Not only did they have ownership, it helped get the book finished before I went on family leave. Also, I named the people for the positions the next year and the seniors had to train the new people as part of their grade. I have continued to keep those positions because it helps keep things running smoothly.

3. Involve the seniors in as many decisions as possible. Last year my staff wanted to adopt a family at Christmas and have a Relay for Life team for the May walk. A senior took the lead and the other seniors followed. They had grown as a staff and started doing things together. Once we finished the book, they kept working on these other projects, which were not related to the curriculum or their grade, but they kept them motivated.

4. Put seniors in charge of all celebrations. My seniors plan our Secret Santa and Christmas parties, and remind me of staff birthdays and deadline celebrations. Many times, they will take the lead and assign staffers items to bring in for these celebrations. As adviser, I always bake the cake.

5. Let the seniors plan yearbook distribution. We have a system in place that works, but I always ask the seniors how they think we can improve on the previous year’s distribution. For example, last year we had two different covers and offered only iTags – no cover stamping. This year’s seniors told me they thought that kept things moving more smoothly. This year we opted to only offer iTags again.

Keep seniors motivated by giving them all of the leadership that you can, since they are beginning to feel like role models and adults. It really helps to keep things running smoothly, and that makes your job easier, which makes you a happier adviser.

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