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How to Set Your Next Yearbook Staff Up for Success: Tips for Avoiding Past Mistakes

A group of students work together on a project.

Do you notice the same mistakes reoccurring year after year? Staff transitions from current staff to next year's staff can be tricky, but not impossible. The key to reducing mistakes is preparation! Build a solid structure into your system to make the impending change as seamless as possible.

Student Leaders Pass on the Legacy

One of your responsibilities as an advisor is to mentor your staff throughout the year, even after the book is finished. Passing on the traditions from a leader to a staff member is essential to building your team, and an example for key staff leaders in mentoring junior leaders. 

A teacher is sitting down with her student in discussion.

Build into your schedule the time to check in on the team's operations. Have conversations with your leaders and discuss how they are leading, offering both positive input and helpful critique. Through these check-ins, you will be able to check the temperature of the leaders. They will know they are cared for and you will model how they are to do the same as mentors.

Next Year’s Leaders!

After establishing key leaders and facilitating a safe space for your current team, focus on next year’s leaders! Working with the leaders, identify the rising stars, note how they respond to mentoring, and nurture them by bringing them into leadership experiences. This lightens the load on current leaders and allows them to experience the fruit of their investment now, not after they leave.

An important factor to consider is that some leaders are quiet. Not every leader has a strong, forceful personality. Many students may want to help and have amazing talent to give, but they are waiting to be asked. Reach out to the hesitant ones. They need confidence and will rise to their potential when you invest in them.

Document What You’ve Learned

Lastly, document, document, document! Use OneNote or another platform to create a working record of the year. Document the planning process, logistics, specific steps, and what the staff did in response to these sample questions: 

What are some things you would do differently with sports photography (______)? What was your budget? What made it successful? When shooting, you need to prepare ___________ ahead of time, etc.

Ask your yearbook staff to create this detailed document with notes, reflections on what they’ve learned, and what they would do differently. The more specific these documents are, the better. Your next staff will be able to use this as a springboard for next year and learn from the mistakes of the past. Without documentation, your senior staff will simply take all they’ve learned and leave.

Don't let this happen! Start planning for the next year and have your leaders assist you in these preparations. Use those few weeks after the yearbook has been distributed. These are golden hours! Nothing will be lost in transition if you prepare, care, and share with your staff who will then pass it on to the future staff.

United Yearbook offers blogs on a wide range of topics. In addition, there are resources such as curriculum, and year-round workshop on this and other areas. Make sure to subscribe to our blog and our newsletter, and visit our website at to learn more!

Copyright © 2024. TSE Worldwide Press. All Rights Reserved.

An image of Donna Ladner, editor of this blog.

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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