Five Simple Ideas for… Preparing your editors

Written by Kim Praser

As a child, I depended on my training wheels to ride my pink flower bike. Some people may consider me a late bloomer when I finally asked my dad at age seven to remove them. I asked him once I realized accidents are a part of life, and my fear of falling off should not prevent me from riding.

The training wheels remind me of how I support my editors at the start of a new school year, and then wean them, knowing they may get bruised.

Since only juniors and seniors can enroll in yearbook at my school, each year I have to train a new group of five talented individuals to ride this new bike around school, so to speak. So what kind of training wheels do I need to provide for these newbie leaders?

To start, some of them were trained by the previous year’s editors; some took part in selecting the new book’s theme. All attended Walsworth’s yearbook summer workshop to bond and develop the approved theme. Then, I put my editors through the following process during the first nine weeks of school, which includes the first deadline:

Step One: They all read The One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. As they read the book, they must take notes on important points. We discuss it as a group, and then they complete a handout that evaluates and applies their understanding of this management approach. They must compose personal goals related to their editorial position.

Step Two: They must practice techniques of one-minute managing while directing the staff on the first deadline. Now that the introductory lessons are over, the ladder is complete, page assignments have been designated and the staff is in teams of three with a writer, photographer and page designer, the editors have to apply their goals as they practice one-minute praisings and reprimands as explained in the book.

Step Three: The editors use a deadline tracker to check in with staff members who have first-deadline pages. This chart simplifies the page creation process that the staff follows for deadlines.

Step Four: I check in with editors daily and we meet weekly as a team. The goal of the daily check-ins is for me to demonstrate the one-minute praisings and reprimands to each of them personally. The weekly meetings are for us as a team to reflect on what is going well, what needs to be changed and how everyone is adjusting to their roles.

Step Five: After the first few weeks repeating steps three and four, I ask each editor during a weekly meeting to look at their conduct and reflect on the completion of their goals and whether revisions are needed. Then, I have them repeat Step One, but this time with Putting the One Minute Manger to Work by Ken Blanchard and Robert Lorber. They complete exactly the same process, but the editors now use and apply the next level of management.

With this process of learning, application and reflection, the editors really master their position on staff in a short time, while demonstrating and being accountable for leading their staff as they should. All that I do is run beside them, guiding the process as they ride.

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.