July 23, 2009 / Noteworthy / Staff Management

Remember when…

Written by Marketing Staff

Think back to your first year as an adviser. What memories do you still have from that first year, and what’s the most important piece of advice you would give to a new adviser now?

Give us your comments below!

15 Responses to “Remember when…”

August 03, 2009 at 7:59 am, Jim Jordan said:

I am about ready to begin my 28th year as adviser, and I am enjoying helping my students create their yearbook even more now than I did when I first started.

In a few words I would tell a new adviser to “enjoy the ride!” Make time, take time to enjoy the process along the way. It won’t always be easy, but don’t focus so much on just getting the book done that you forget to have fun with your staff and appreciate them for their willingness to take on a such a big project.

Jim Jordan, Del Campo High School

August 03, 2009 at 9:17 pm, Jeff Gabbard said:

In 1986 I stepped into a classroom of yearbook students knowing very little, but thinking I was the one responsible for everything. Now, my editors run the show, make the plans, make sure everything gets done and take full responsibility for everything. It is hard for a first year adviser to step back and let the kids take charge, but they will surprise you! After all, it is THEIR book, not yours.

Having said that, remember, it takes about three years to develop “your” staff. These are the ones who were not on the staff with the “former” adviser, and have been trained by you.

Jeff Gabbard, Connersville (IN) High School

August 04, 2009 at 8:56 am, Nancy Hastings said:

I’m starting year 37 as adviser to the yearbook and newspaper and I’m enjoying it as much as ever. The students’ spontaneity and energy make the time fly by. I second Jim Jordan’s advice to take time to have fun with your students while working and enjoy the experience. Make sure you celebrate all your successes.

I’d also advise all of you, including those with a summer or fall delivery, to get your staffs working right away with an assignment those first couple of days of the school year. Don’t let your staff sit and get use to a “study hall” atmosphere. Once the habit is set, it’s hard to break.

August 05, 2009 at 12:56 pm, Mike Tyler said:

When I started as the yearbook adviser a dozen years ago, the biggest thing I lacked was a good way of evaluating students. Without a good grading system, I struggled to keep kids on track with their deadlines and the quality of their work. We got that first book done, but it was a struggle. Going into my second year, I created a system in which I graded every spread students turned in and gave it a point value. This enabled me and the editors to make it clear what we’re looking for and enforce deadlines more effectively. This improvement made my second year much easier than my first.

Beyond this big change, I’d say the main thing I’ve tried to do over the years is to find the right combination of kids to be editors. In general, I’ve had luck having three editors-in-chief working together as a team. This helps divide the labor into a manageable load and also means there will always be a majority in terms of decisions that need to be made. When these groups of three work well together, it tends to make for some very enjoyable years.

Mike Tyler
Saratoga High School
Saratoga, California

January 04, 2010 at 7:54 pm, Janelle Coady said:

I would be interested in knowing more about the point system you use.

February 05, 2010 at 3:56 pm, Earl Russell said:

Hi Mike, I am interested in looking at your point system. I am always looking to improve and challenge the students.

July 26, 2010 at 12:12 pm, Vonciel Beiswinger said:

I am brand new to the yearbook at Boonville High School and definitely interested in the grading process you use. Currently, there is no developed curriculum and my first year with yearbook. Any assistance or words of wisdome you can give would greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

August 13, 2010 at 3:12 pm, helen penrod said:

Dear Mike,

I, too, would love to see your point system if you are willing to share it. Grading was my biggest struggle last year, holding students accountable for the quality of their work and deadlines. By the end of the year I was just nagging.

Helen Penrod
Weston, MO

February 08, 2011 at 3:13 pm, Jean A. Brown said:

I would like to see your point system, as well.

I was thrown into this position unexpectedly, and I am looking for any good ideas to help me make my expectations clear to my staff!

August 06, 2009 at 10:46 am, Mary Inglis said:

You must be the CEO of the production, and your editors must take the reins of power. To that end, they must be trained well. Yearbook summer camp = mandatory for editors. I give all my kids reporters notebooks from the JEA bookstore. In addition, I get them all special IDs that say when they have yearbook so that they just have to sign out and not get the regular pass. They always have an outside assignment finding ideas for design, alt copy, color packages, puns, so that they are always thinking yearbook! Celebrate birthdays and help them communicate with faculty members who might be hard-to-get. Encourage trips to conventions; this is what really builds brains and bonding.

August 10, 2009 at 8:55 pm, Stephanie Emerson, MJE said:

Advisers and staffs need a disciplined approach to funding their yearbook program with ad and book sales.

It is true – the best way to fund the yearbook is to sell ads and yearbooks. However, organizing such sales is time-consuming, and usually they find themselves competing with other groups in their school, and sometimes other schools, for those dollars. If their yearbook program is self-sustaining like mine is – the district gives us no money – the task of funding a great yearbook every year seems daunting.

The sales plan I devised and have used for years is successful for many reasons. It works on a timetable to avoid competition as much as possible – I believe timing is everything. We have record-keeping methods that simplify the billing, payment, ad design and yearbook distribution functions.

Another important element is that I have a student business manager on staff. This person oversees our sales, is trustworthy and can handle large amounts of money. Our business would crash without this person at the helm – with my oversight, of course.

Our ad and book sales are a year-long process, but we do not spend a year on them. Specific tasks are done at specific times of the year. The business manager executes the plan, although we could not reach our sales goals without everyone on staff pulling their weight. We sell business ads in the summer, senior ads are due by the end of September, and the yearbook sale is ONLY the first week of November. With this plan in place, we know exactly how much money can be spent on the yearbook before our second deadline for our spring delivery book.

Stephanie Emerson, MJE
Wynne High School
Wynne, Arkansas

August 26, 2009 at 9:51 pm, Crystal Kazmierski said:

Best thing I ever did was to send our books in to CSPA and NSPA for critiques. “Next time you might want to include copy,” a reviewer said. (“That’s funny,” I thought. I was pretty sure I did send in a copy…)

That was the beginning of learning what a real yearbook was supposed to be. From there I attended workshops and JEA/NSPA and CSPA conventions and found that there were plenty of other weirdos like me who were hooked on kids and publications.

Go to conventions and summer workshops and watch your kids grow!!

September 10, 2009 at 1:00 pm, Robert Haar said:

I set out on this adventure 15 years ago. When I look back at my first year the thing that comes to mind is the willingness to put trust in my students. At that time, I had been “given” the class with no journalism background or experience. The majority of the staff knew more, way more, than I did about putting a book together.

But while I was the rookie teacher and a complete novice to yearbook, the foundation of my relationship with my students was built on giving them the opportunity to have the say in theme, design, story ideas, etc. While I might not have known much about yearbook, they knew I would work hard to: support their ideas and see them come to fruition, listen to their needs, and learn as much as I could about yearbook production so I could be an asset and not a hinderance.

Over the years my knowledge and understanding of journalism and yearbooks have grown tremendously. But even as my experience and comfort level increased, I still remain true to putting trust in my kids. After all, it is THEIR book! There is a great deal of empowerment that comes with putting so much trust in them. And through both their successes and failures they gain valuable lessons in their ability to lead, to handle stress, to make the tough decisions, to meet deadlines and how to communicate/work with others. In the end, it is more than just about putting together a yearbook, but about establishing lifelong skills that will carry them through many more challenges to come in their adult lives.

April 09, 2010 at 12:42 pm, Jaime Gilligan said:

I’m just wrapping up my 3rd year as adviser. I have to echo Jeff Gabbard’s advice. The biggest realization I’ve come to thus far (and believe me I’ve got a long ways to go) is that this is a STUDENT publication. My editors run the show. The past 2 years I acted as the unofficial editor-in-chief. This year my staff was finally ready to take over for me. It’s made all the difference in the world.

Jaime Gilligan, Ursuline Academy

July 22, 2010 at 5:11 pm, Nunn Winship said:

I inherited from a retiring yearbook adviser a pair of well-trained editors and a staff who had an idea of what needed to be done. Unfortunately, they had bonded with the last adviser and (most emphatically) did not want to work with me. Worse, it was a journalism class with and English credit, and I insisted they could (would) also put out a monthly newspaper. Disaster in the making.

I also acquired a new principal who had some experience in yearbook advising. He heard the students’ complaints and opinions, informed them of my status as adviser/journalism teacher and their status as students. Basically, we came to a compromise that I would be hands-off on the yearbook, and they would create a newspaper. They fudged on the paper, and I couldn’t help making suggestions on occasion. But through the year we developed a working level of mutual respect.

The juniors had no experience with the old adviser, and were groomed as the newspaper editors with the understanding that they would move up to yearbook editors the next year. Once the seniors were gone, they blossomed, especially when I told them that they could create their own, new traditions.

My suggestions? Relax. You might get lucky and have a crew that wants to work with you. Whether or not, be in contact with other yearbook advisers, past and present. Read all the tips you can find. Organize the kids to do the work. And perhaps the most important of all (to keep the higher ups happy) be agressive in your sales campaigns and follow-up PR.

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Marketing Staff

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