October 31, 2012 / Fall 2012 / Five Simple Ideas

5 Simple Ideas for… redirecting your staff

Written by Kim Praser

Once deadlines begin to fall continuously like dominos, leading to the completion of yet another yearbook, some staff members may fall behind in their work, leaving editors scrambling to fill in the gaps to complete the production sequence.

Have these staff members contracted senioritis early? Some of them may have actually fallen ill, resulting in an extended absence. Some may just not want to follow through with their responsibilities.

What is an adviser to do? Give these students book work? Assign them a separate project? Chain them to the computer until the assigned pages are complete? No. What these students need is perspective.

With the Maestro method and with strict mini-deadlines firmly in place, the structure needed for these students to complete the page process is established. This provides an opportunity for an adviser to illustrate what the final book will look like.

Starting with the most current deadline, find the date that your page teams were to have their work completed; print these drafts. I usually give my editors two weeks for them to complete these pages to their expectations, in particular, if the assigned staff members failed to make the expected revisions.

Once the editors finish these pages and the pages are submitted, print them. Now armed with these two sets of printouts, perspective can be given.

1.  Tape both the before and after of these same pages around the classroom.

2.  As students look at the pages, have them focus on the overall design, connection of the page to the theme (from the cover of the book and previously submitted pages, if applicable) and placement of elements on the spread. Students must examine the details of copy, captions and alternative coverage. Have students concentrate on their assigned pages first, then look at the remaining ones.

3. Individually, students must compare the before and after spreads of their assigned pages, writing down the differences and similarities.

4.  Staff members must reflect on their work pertaining to the editors’ expectations. Some questions they must consider: What could they do with their next assigned pages to look more like these after pages? What additional training and assistance do they require?

5. Editors meet with these students as a group to discuss improvements that must be made according to staff roles of photography, design and copy writing. This also is when the staff can bring up concerns and needs they want met to their editors, editor-in-chief and adviser.

As a result of this reflection on the current year’s book, your staff should become re-energized and ready to work to follow through with the production process. They are now fully aware of what they individually need to improve on and also how their lack of participation affects the editors and the publication’s integrity.

Kim Praser

Kim Praser, NBCT, CJE, is the former yearbook adviser at Thornton Fractional South High School in Lansing, Ill. She currently is working on a second master's degree in English with a concentration in journalism from the University of Missouri. Her yearbook won regional honors from the Kettle Moraine Press Association and the Illinois High School Association. She has presented at Walsworth’s Adviser's Day Away Workshop.