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How to Plan and Execute a Successful Summer Workshop for Your Next Yearbook Staff

Updated: May 17

A group of students and adviser enjoying their summer workshop

At the end of the year, it is hard to envision the start of next year's yearbook cycle. By now, you will have an idea of a core group of students who are returning to the class or the new ones interested in joining. The returning students are invaluable resources in beginning the work of the next yearbook. Your job is to equip them with skills to create a culture of responsibility, build solid peer relationships, and provide stable support for student leadership. The following steps will help you design and organize a half-day workshop for these students.

Approaching Administration 

Summer months have a different schedule than the normal calendar. Remember that you will need approvals for using the building, camera equipment, technology support, and probably food service. Consider the school calendar, maintenance schedules, and parent permission forms. Once these are set, approach the Administration with all of your issues set, along with a complete description of the workshop. Having an administrative partner can make all the difference in the approval process.

The workshop should be limited to a half-day, and include these sections: Interpersonal communication, a description of the yearbook process, teamwork, and job responsibilities. Finish the time by eating a meal together.

Students are working to get to know one another during the summer workshop

Getting to know each other

Interpersonal communication is the first foundation and most important of the workshop. Introduce fun and interesting icebreakers to encourage friendship. This time sets the tone for the future months where they will work, create, and put together a public and permanent record of the school community. Unlike many other classes in school, a yearbook staff needs to learn to stand together as a team. The getting-to-know-you activities for the summer workshop should start to underscore this fellowship dynamic.

Students are writing on the whiteboard during their summer workshop group activity

Getting to know what the work is

After you have spent a short time getting to know each other, it is time to introduce the work. Bring past yearbooks (from other schools or publishers) to use for this exercise. Briefly mention general concepts such as purpose, intent, structure, appearance, and audience. With these basic ideas, use a competitive game to identify these in the yearbooks to the best of their ability (divide into small teams). Look at the kinds of events covered, and find out their understanding.

Have a calendar for the whiteboard and discuss a plan or working schedule for who will cover the events. Let the students have individual planners to input the tasks. Talk about permission forms for students to check out and use cameras, briefly go over the basics of photography, and end this session with the practice of taking photographs around campus to upload to Google Drive. 

A yearbook adviser is sharing with her yearbook class

Dynamics of Teamwork

To have any productive progress, the students need to understand the dynamics of teamwork and the necessity of working in unity. Broadly cover the names/titles of school community members who need to be involved. Talk about communication styles, formal and informal settings, social media processes, and emails. Display the staff's responsibilities. Ask students why leadership among team members is vital. Explain how important it is for each student to complete their specific responsibilities to make the yearbook successful. 

Group work in a classroom doesn’t play out well sometimes. Some individuals do little to no work while others carry the weight for many. However, the notion of a tightly knit team is not only one that students understand but also one that furthers their grasp that there is a real need for leadership among team members. Team spirit needs to be cultivated across the entire yearbook staff, and each team member needs to have specific responsibilities within the team. In turn, the team holds each member accountable. 

Job Descriptions

The creation of job descriptions and leadership structure will be the glue to hold everything together. In the final session, review the characteristics of strong peer leaders. Develop a hierarchy of responsibility. Begin with the basic job titles and descriptions. As the students begin working together, there will be minor adjustments and changes depending on the number of students and allocated roles.

An image of the snacks that were provided at the summer workshop

Share a meal 

End the workshop with a meal! Invite an administrator to give an inspiring pep talk. Have the lunch scheduled for 11:30 and end at noon. As a reminder, begin at 8:30, schedule brief 10-minute breaks, and provide snacks. It will be a very full morning. This is worth the investment! Having a yearbook staff already organized, prepared, and committed, eliminates so much stress that can occur at the beginning of the year. Lay the foundation, and develop success!

United Yearbook offers blogs on a wide range of topics. In addition, there are resources such as curriculum, and year-round workshops on this and other areas. Make sure to subscribe to our blog and our  newsletter, and visit our website at to learn more! United Yearbook is available to assist you throughout the school year including during summer break. Visit our website at this link to schedule an online appointment.

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Former yearbook advisor, Lucy McHugh

Contributor: Lucy McHugh comes to United Yearbook Printing from a 39-year career in public and private school education. She was a former visual art teacher and yearbook adviser. She received a Bachelors of Science in Art from Columbia College in Columbia, SC, a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Nebraska in 2000, and in 2014 earned a Certificate in Catholic School Leadership from Loyola Marymount University. Lucy enjoys her family, making art and gardening.

Editor, Donna Ladner

Editor: Donna Ladner obtained a B.A. in Education and a minor in English from California Baptist University, and a M.S. in ESL from USC, Los Angeles. After she married Daniel, their family moved to Indonesia with a non-profit organization and lived cross-culturally for 15 years before returning to the U.S in 2012. Donna has been working as an editor and proofreader for TSE Worldwide Press and its subsidiary, United Yearbook since 2015.


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