October 26, 2012 / Fall 2012 / Staff Management

Yearbook is a team sport

Written by Jessica Young

Staffs need all hands on deck, every person contributing in their own way. Some students will pull more than their share of the weight. Some students will want to specialize, others like to keep everyone smiling, and a few like to do nothing. But if your staff is properly trained and cared for so they feel needed, you can turn even the do-nothings into do-somethings.

  • Let them teach. Returners tend to comprise the staff leadership. They know the routines and expectations. They understand the theories of color and design, and know how to take photos and write copy. Let them teach their peers and coach them through deadlines. Also, pair them with new staff members.
  • Expand their skills. When you come across students who have found a calling for one thing, and that is the only thing they are interested in doing, remind them that good players can do a little bit of everything. Compromise — have them help you design a lesson, project or cheat sheet on their area of expertise. In return, they can deliver the lesson or work with students on that special skill.
  • Create a booster role. Some students are natural-born cheerleaders. Put them in charge of planning special snack days, ice breakers, deadline parties, birthday celebrations and kudos for jobs well done. This will help your cheery staff member stay busy and keep up staff morale.
  • Motivate the unmotivated. The students who do not perform are the most frustrating. Sure, you can give them an F for their lack of effort, but that does not help get the book done. Help these students connect to other staff members and to the task as a whole. Get to know them through ice breakers, side conversations and observations. Talk to other teachers who work with them. Find out what they like and what motivates them. Sometimes, with a little effort, the student will begin to feel like the staff cares about him or her, which should motivate them to participate more.

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Jessica Young

Jessica Young, MJE, teaches photography and advises the yearbook and newspaper at Orange Glen High School in Escondido, Calif. Young was named a 2012 Rising Star by the Journalism Education Association (JEA). She is the President of the San Diego Journalism Education Association and was co-chair of the local committee for the JEA/NSPA Spring National High School Journalism Convention in San Diego in April 2014. Young also is a member of the Quill and Scroll board of trustees and directors.