August 4, 2010 / Staff Management

If I could do it over again…

Written by Idea File Staff

The position of yearbook adviser can be a tough one, especially in those first few years on the job.

For all the experienced advisers out there who now know the ropes, if you could go back to those first few years what would you go back and do differently?

Give us your comments below!

  • Deb

    Well, 12 years ago I was asked to be the yearbook adviser for Dr. Phillips HIgh School. At that time, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Somehow with 3 good yearbook students who worked themselves silly and me, with no knowledge at all, we weathered through that first year. The book was passable and I was praised for the good job. The sad part was there was no one to train me. No one to help. My yearbook rep stepped in and told me to go to NSPA, CSPA and her summer workshop. I did. It helped. I learned so much. Since then it’s gotten more and more streamlined. I was still sending in hard copies and using Pagemaker all those years ago. Thinkgs have completely changed no with the digital age and Indesign. I now have about 30 students on staff and do not only the yearbook but the newspaper as well. It has become a labor of love. My students are well trained. I will retire in a few years, but till then, I hope to train my successor and show her/him the ropes. There’s nothing easy about learning everything I’ve learned, but the coolest part is that I get to spend 4 years with most of my students. I really become their “mom” away from home. This is the best part of doing this — the students. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

  • bradley prier

    From a student editor’s point of view, it is important to talk with your students. Another great thing to do is have a common design between your pages as well as have students compete against eachother for the best pages and have yourself select the better. Make sure your book has continuity! very important! also don’t be afraid to help students out, so know the program yourself!

  • Julie

    I worked on yearbook in high school and in college, but that was back in the 80’s, so things had changed between then and 2014! There were no returning students from the previous year’s yearbook class, so we were starting with a green group and a teacher who hadn’t done a book this century. Thank goodness for the educational materials supplied by Walsworth, because that’s what got us through the first nine weeks. We went with a visual theme because it was easier for the students to work with, and we started journaling which hadn’t been done in many years.

    In the past only juniors and seniors were allowed to be on the staff. I changed that rule to allow sophomores because we needed underclass students to help with getting pictures from those grades, identify students for journaling, and to take leadership positions on the staff for the next school year.

    I was a new teacher in the district last year so I didn’t know any of the students. Had I known the students better I would have made some changes to the editorial staff because I had some seniors in those positions who were not looking at the big picture. I also had to fight again the “clique” mentality that some students had and get them to work together.

    Something must have gone right, however, because I had a waiting list of students wanting to be in the class this year. They are working together as a team, they are coming up with fantastic promotional ideas, and we are already ahead on book sales compared to last year. Here’s to a fantastic 2015 everyone!

  • Vanessa A.

    I teach yearbook at the middle school level.

    When I got the job, I was just kind of thrusted into yearbook. I had gotten the job as a Speech (public speaking/debate, etc) teacher, and it just so happened the teacher who I replaced also taught yearbook. Did I mention that they didn’t use a company? All they did was do it on computers and used the school printers to print out the yearbooks for students. Anyways….

    My first year I was CLUELESS. I picked a yearbook company because it was cheap, but the rep never came to help. Any question I had, I had to learn through trial and error. Because I was so fresh, I allowed the students to do it ALL. There was no staff, it was a free-for-all, and the yearbook resembled that. Although it looked “better” than previous years because it was actually published, it was horrible. Every page had a different background, and every layout was different.

    It was a typical collage type yearbook that is produced by many elementary/middle schools. After my first year I attended a Walsworth workshop that was put on in my district and I was BLOWN AWAY. I learned so much, and thankfully my knowledge of yearbook has gotten better and so has my teaching. Now my yearbooks are light-years away from what they were and my students enter the high school will so much knowledge in their back pocket.

  • Sandy P.

    I was basically thrust into this position as well. One detractor from Yearbook is that there is usually one sponsor, and when that sponsor gets replaced, there is no experience to draw on. Within days, you’re expected to be a professional photographer, a graphic artist, a marketer, a salesman, a CEO and teach all of this to your students. It can be overwhelming, especially when you add on multiple preps from the other classes you’re teaching.

    My advise is to research as much as possible. Youtube vids are great for teaching the basics of photography. The internet has a plethora of sample pages. Go to the library and look at the yearbooks from previous years. Go home and have fun exploring your design program. Whatever you decide to teach yourself, teach the kids at the same time. As teachers, we know that teaching others allows us to better understand the material ourselves. It seems overwhelming…and you will make mistakes your first year or two, but you can do this.

    Lastly, make sure you let the students know that this is a class. There are grades. There are expectations that have to be met. There is room for creative freedom, and the teacher’s role is mostly as facilitator, but you can’t allow too much free reign. Not if you want to meet your deadlines. Just remember to keep the channels of communication open between you and your staff. Check the page ladder daily. Keep on them about their progress. Give feedback.

Idea File Staff

Idea File Staff reports are posts compiled by the Walsworth Yearbooks Marketing Department, covering a wide range of yearbook topics.