Photo by: Paul Miller

January 8, 2021 / Coverage / Staff Management

10 Things (and more) You Can/Should Be Doing in January

Written by Jim Jordan

It’s always just a little bit difficult to get back in the groove after returning from Winter Break.

You’ve been hanging around, staying up late and sleeping in, doing as little as possible, playing hours of video games, bingeing on every show you can.

But now it’s time to get back on the horse and start riding again even though that’s the last thing you want to do.

It’s time to start the process that will get you closer to that BIG GOAL you set back in the summer– CREATING THE MOST AMAZING YEARBOOK YOUR SCHOOL HAS EVER SEEN – the one that’s going to tell the story of your school community during this crazy, unprecedented, amazing, unique and totally unexpected year.

As you get back into the groove, here are a few things you can/should be doing in January as this new year begins to take flight.

1. Celebrate That You’ve Made It to 2021.

The last nine months have been nothing less than crazy, but here you are, the year is half over and it really is all downhill from here. You may not be exactly where you want to be, but are we ever there in January?

Just that fact that you are making this yearbook happen and that you haven’t given up is reason enough to stop and celebrate. As you reflect and look back, think of all you HAVE accomplished. Then stop, celebrate, and have a party before you dig in for the next big push.

2. Make Some New Year’s Resolutions. And Keep Them.

As you reflect on what might make the rest of the year go more smoothly, make some resolutions to improve things you have the power to change. The easiest place to start is with yourself. Consider things like: “I will be one who encourages others,” “I will be known as one who is kind,” “I will take personal responsibility for all the work I have agreed to do.” There are so many possibilities. Put each of these resolutions in a jar on your desk at home and pull one out every day and reflect on how you are doing. If you are still meeting remotely, share one a day as an opener for class each day. Hold each other accountable by working on them together.

3. Organize. Plan. Set Your Course.

This month is also the time to dig in and carefully plan your course of action for the rest of the year. When is your final deadline? How many pages are still left to complete? What can be done now and what do you have to wait on? Even though there is always still so much to do, the end comes into a much clearer focus in January. Take a hard look at your ladder to see what you can get done the fastest. Determine what can be done in each month leading up to your final deadline. Hopefully you have developed a production plan that is working for you, so the creation of your pages can start to go even faster. If you need to retool your production, January is the time to work on it.

4. Keep Looking for Those Unique New Coverage ideas.

One of the most exciting things about this year is all the new coverage possibilities that are available beyond the expected stories on masks and learning remotely. Tell the stories of the people at your school. Every one really does have a story you just have to find it. Get out there (online and or socially distanced) and start talking to people and get them in the book.

5. Finish Your Proofs.

If you are an InDesign school, you may be holding on to some proofs from all the work you did right before break. Go over them carefully, improve them as much as you can, send them back. It’s time to move forward on to the next set of pages.

6. Start Recruiting for 2022.

Right in the middle of all the planning and work that January brings, you will most likely start getting messages from your counseling department and administration about helping students choose classes and register for next year. Having to convince new students they want to become a part of the yearbook staff when this book isn’t even close to done was always one of the most difficult parts of the year for me. Even though it may be the last thing you want to do, push through it and let everyone one know what an important and rewarding experience being a yearbook staff member can be and how much they are needed to make the 2022 book and keep the tradition going.

7. Make the Club Connection.

One of the biggest challenges of this year may be doing any kind of significant club coverage while on distance learning. Find out what clubs are still active online and cover whatever they are doing. What has kept them meeting online when they couldn’t meet in person? What have they still been able to accomplish together? Compare what has changed from last year to this one. Get as many student voices on the spreads as you can.

8. Sports Update.

Depending on where you are in the country, you may be having almost as many sports as in a normal year. Out in California, Oregon, and Washington, however, very few sports have started. You may have to get creative with what you have to cover but dive in and find the stories that are there. How are teams practicing utilizing social distancing? How is your school handling spectators? Who gets to watch the competitions that are occurring? How has COVID affected individuals and teams as a whole? How has quarantining affected teams during their season? What are the athletes doing to stay in shape if competition has not started? There are stories to tell and you can find them.

9. Pat Yourself on the Back.

Because this process can be so daunting at times, create an atmosphere of encouragement with your staff. Be proud of yourselves for bringing this book to life. Be thankful for each staff member WHO IS THERE putting in the work that needs to be done.

10. Promote (and sell) Your Book to Your Community.

Students, staff and parents may be wondering if there is even going to be a book this year, so you have to convince them that not only is there going to be a book, but that it’s going to tell the amazing story of this unique year. This is the year to post spreads on the school web site and all your social media channels that shows them what an incredible book it’s going to be. Let them all know how hard you are working and how much you need their support by having them buy a book.<

11. Keep Growing and Using Your Social Media Channels.

A dynamic social media presence is a key to success more than ever this year. It’s the best way to stay in touch and gather information from your student audience. Lean into your audience and they will respond. Post polls and hold contests and giveaways. Start posting the photos you have and spreads you’ve completed to let them know you are making an incredible book. Show everyone how hard you are working for them


Thank Your Adviser and Your Support System. If you are working on this yearbook, I can bet you have an amazing support system around you, helping you every single day to keep moving forward. Be sure and take the time to tell your adviser, family and friends how much you appreciate what they do for you. We all love hearing that we are appreciated. So be one of those people who spreads it around.

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Jim Jordan

Jim Jordan is a Special Consultant for Walsworth Yearbooks and the host of the Yearbook Chat with Jim podcast. He is former yearbook adviser at Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks, California. Jim was the 1996 JEA Yearbook Adviser of the Year, and shares his expertise with students and advisers at workshops and conventions across the country. Jim is the lead mentor for Walsworth's Adviser Mentor Program.