Photo by: Marcela Perez

December 11, 2009 / Staff Management

Work, fun can keep yearbook students motivated before the holidays

Written by Elizabeth Braden, CJE

The holidays are approaching, which at most schools comes with approximately two weeks off from school. The anticipation is overwhelming – so overwhelming that it can be hard to keep your yearbook staff on task to make those December deadlines. So how do you do it?

Many yearbook advisers use a mixture of work and fun to keep students focused. Judy Cannaday, adviser at Palm Harbor University High School in Palm Harbor, Fla., said she shows her staff how good their work is on their current spreads to keep them in the holiday mood and in a work mood.

“Right now, we have a lot of proofs, and we take a few minutes at the beginning of class to show the pages on the projector to the whole staff. During peak production times, the kids only look at their own spreads, the few that they are working on. Seeing what other sections are doing makes them appreciate how good a job they are doing,” Cannaday said.

“I give lots of personal, one-to-one praise, and I try to appear very calm and unstressed, no matter how stressed I am really feeling!” Cannaday said.

Lynn Bare, adviser at Southern Alamance High School in Graham, N.C., assigns smaller tasks to keep her staff focused.

“We are trying to tie up loose ends with many of our layouts, so I find myself giving out mini-assignments to help keep the students on task,” Bare said.

“We are also incorporating fun things to help keep the spirit of the season alive,” Bare said. “All the while, we’ll continue with the mini-assignments that will tie up the loose ends in the people section and the sports section.”

On the fun side, Cannaday said her staff is planning a holiday party with a white elephant type of Chinese auction, instead of Secret Santas.

One way to play Chinese auction is to have everyone bring in a wrapped gift. On party day, everyone draws a number. Number one chooses a gift to open. Number two can either take that opened gift from number one (who then chooses another gift to open) or chooses another gift to open. Go around by number until everyone has a gift. Number one has the last turn. Limit the number of times a gift can be stolen, such as two. Gifts can be small, homemade or funny.

Holiday music has been playing in the classroom. They will also bring in goodies to share, and play Secret Santa one day the week before vacation, Bare said.

In some schools, the reality of meeting deadlines intrudes into the holidays in more ways than one.

“Because I only have yearbook one semester this year, and we have done so much of what we need to do in order to try and be ahead of the game, I’m also having them complete theme packets for next year.  It is early but it will be a good exam review of their skills,” Bare said.

So whether your staff wants to adopt a family, get involved with a charity toy drive or do a Secret Santa exchange, a good mix of work and fun will keep the spirit alive in your classroom and meet your deadlines – which will make for a merrier holiday.

Elizabeth Braden, CJE
Elizabeth Braden, CJE

Elizabeth Braden, CJE, is the former editor of Idea File magazine. Before retiring, she was a copywriter for Walsworth Yearbooks for more than 15 years, writing articles for various marketing materials, and proofreading copy for the Yearbook and Commercial divisions. Her career included reporting and editing for United Press International and editing for Knight-Ridder Financial News. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Media News from the University of Tulsa.