January 20, 2023 / Staff Management

New Students, New Semester, Same Momentum

Written by Allison Scaggs

For most people, January is the calm after the holiday rush. For yearbook advisers, I would say it is the opposite. In my case, my last day with my students was Dec. 14, and I didn’t see any of them again until Jan. 9, which was the first day of a new semester, with just 10 school days until our next deadline. I also went from a class of 30 (mostly productive) students to 7. I am lucky that I was able to hand-pick these 7 and form a second-semester class, but I haven’t had that fortune every year.

My biggest question mark for yearbook in January is always how can we quickly pick back up with the same momentum we had in the fall? Many times, this also involves how to welcome and train new students so they can help without feeling completely overwhelmed. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve picked up over my five years of advising yearbooks.

Celebrate your successes.

I love using the Yearbook Live feature in Walsworth for students to see what their peers are working on. This is also a fun, beginning of the semester boost to remind returners of all their hard work and show newbies what the theme, style and overall feel of the book is so far.

Utilize other students.

Almost all yearbook advisers are also teachers, and in our other classes, we are doing most, if not all, of the teaching. However, in yearbook, veteran students have their strengths. Capitalize on them and don’t shoulder all the weight yourself! What can this look like?

I’ve done a variety of things: a buddy or mentor system where each newcomer is paired with a veteran who shows them the ropes for the first few weeks. Not only are they learning the work needed in yearbook, they’re also building a relationship with another student. I’ve also enlisted an ‘expert’ in different areas. Sometimes this is in the form of editors, sometimes this is just a student who has a particular skill and the ability to teach it. One of my best ‘teachers’ in the fall semester was a freshman who excelled in photography. She happily taught a lesson to our entire class and then would work with any student who still needed help or just wanted to watch her and learn beyond the basics.

Videos! Templates! Walsworth resources! Oh my!

I will forever say the best thing to come from COVID in the world of education is videos. It is so easy to record tutorials and share them with students or direct them to great Walsworth videos on so many different skills for yearbook creation. Loom and Screencastify are both easy-to-use tools to create tutorial videos to share with students, and I love that they can be used for a variety of purposes. They’re great for quickly teaching new students to help them jump into the class and can be shared with students who may be absent when key skills are taught in class. I also like to keep them posted in our class course so students can refer back to them at any point if they need a quick refresher.

Templates are also a way to help students quickly understand design basics without the struggle of starting a spread completely from scratch. These are another easy-to-use resource whether created by you or using the ones available from Walsworth, with both newbies and experienced students, whether the first week or whenever they are looking for a quality layout to get started.

Like any new endeavor, the new semester will feel overwhelming for you, but think about how much more overwhelmed your newbies will likely feel and make it a point to welcome them into your yearbook family and teach them what they need to know to be confident in jumping into the class. Hopefully these few tips will help you keep up the same momentum with your new yearbookers!

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Allison Scaggs

Allie Scaggs teaches English and advises the Trojan Yearbook at Bandys High in Catawba, North Carolina. This is her 8th year teaching and her fifth as an adviser. At home, she shares a 2.5-year old son, Hudson, with her husband, Kyle, and they have a little girl due in June!