Photo by: Michelle Mitchell

Organization is Key to a Successful Classroom Distribution

Written by Ashley Diaz

The fireworks on the screen go off – this is what you and your staff have been working towards all year. Your book and the final pages have been submitted. Let out a sigh of relief and kick off your shoes … for a moment. You’re not done, because now it’s the time to prep for the delivery and distribution of your much anticipated book.

Does your staff do a signing party? How do you organize the shipment delivery of your book? Where will they be housed? How will students and parents get their book if there’s no party? Come May, many questions tend to fill adviser’s heads, but do not fear. Walsworth and other adviser friends are here to help.

My school in El Paso, Texas, has not had a distribution party in years to avoid interfering with class time. Not sure about y’all, but here in Texas, May is filled with state testing, AP testing and finals. I have, however, had my fair share of various distributions over the years. Delivery and distribution of your school’s book doesn’t have to be a nightmare or stressful, but it must be organized. Yearbook advisers are some of the best chaos organizers, so embrace your gifts and get ready to WOW the school with your beautiful yearbook.

What Should I Do First?

First, make a plan with your rep and with your admin for the delivery of your book based upon your ship date. The janitors on my campus are a huge help. Honestly, they know before my admin when the books arrive because there is always a janitor on campus. You need to plan with your school custodial staff because the books are often delivered and left outside the school. You do not want to interrupt their daily tasks. If they know ahead of time and can plan accordingly, it’ll be smooth for all parties involved. The custodial staff can help you carry or dolly the cases to their temporary location.

Planning for where the books will be delivered and moved to is a key component. Verify the number of boxes and books when they are delivered and know where they will be housed on your campus. My administration prefers that they be locked away since they are of monetary (and sentimental) value. I’m lucky that my classroom has closets that can be locked, so our books are stored there.

Be sure to keep a running count of the number of boxes and books delivered when they are dropped off and count each time books are moved. You don’t want to find out that the delivery company accidentally forgot to unload a couple of boxes or that you are short when it comes time to distribute.

Save the Date

The next best step is to have a set distribution date. You likely have had a date planned for a while. I recommend keeping it at least a week after your ship date. This gives you time to organize your materials and review the book. Mistakes will happen in your book, so it’s helpful to review before you distribute.

Make sure your admin knows when and where you are distributing. Have your staff promote it on their social media pages and ask your campus pages to do so too. You can also use posters, flyers and more to advertise around the school. Walsworth has some helpful editable distribution day materials you can download and use for free.

I turn off online sales before distribution so there are no new additions once the distribution list has been printed. Don’t worry, you can print updated distribution lists daily until all books are picked up or sold out.

In-person Distribution

Students and parents should be required to show you a copy of the receipt and/or their photo ID when picking up their book and sign for it. This will avoid any cases of someone saying they did not get their book when they actually did.

It works well for us to do distribution after school. Students will try to get their books early and have a variety of excuses as to why they need to get it before the school day is over. However, your school day isn’t over until that last bell – this needs to work for you. Put yourself first here. After distribution day, we only let the books be picked up before and after school, so it does not interfere with class time. Some campuses will allow yearbook distribution during lunch – but lunch is YOUR time; make the decision that is best and most fitting for you and your staff.

It’s best to announce the distribution date as early as possible – at least a week prior to the event, but many schools advertise even earlier! We distribute in our classroom, though other schools might choose a larger location if you are hosting a big event. Since books are housed and locked in my classroom, my editors are the ones who bring the books out. There is usually me and one other teacher or editor who sit right at the entrance of the door. This helps with accountability for keeping track of your yearbooks.

We split the distribution list from A-L and M-Z and there is signage placed in the hallway so students can line up in accordance with the distribution list, depending on the size of your school, you many split it into more letter groups. Staff members stay in the hall to keep the line moving by checking in advance that students have their ID or receipt or show them how to get it.

I assign two staff members to each of teachers with the distribution list. One to control the amount of people who enter our classroom to collect their book (five people at a time per line) and the other to tell the editors with the books and supplements what all is to be handed to the student. Usually there is also another editor or staff member inside the classroom who helps the students who purchased the additional yearbook options, like book covers.

When a student picks up their book, each one is marked off with their initials and it is highlighted on the list. I recommend you have them sign for their book as well. My staff uses a different color for each day of distribution with a color key where our ladder would be.

Remember I told you you’d be printing off a new distribution list each day? That’s because once students see the book, they’ll convince their parents to get them one. You’ll be adding students to the list. A staff member or two are responsible for printing the new list and highlighting those that have already picked up their book by the color of the day assigned. For example, Monday, May 2 is pink, May 3 is green, etc.

If students who purchased a book haven’t picked up their book, I enlist our school counselors to help me locate them. My staff members will use their yearbook class time to deliver the books to them. If your campus doesn’t have a yearbook period, I would suggest enlisting the help of the counselor/attendance/library courtesy students.

Just remember to enjoy the history book you and your staff put together. The delivery and distribution doesn’t have to be daunting!

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Ashley Diaz

Ashley Diaz, M.Ed., is the Journalism teacher and yearbook adviser at Americas High School in El Paso, Texas.