I have a favorite rocking chair that looks out over my garden and the meadow behind it. It is the place I go to at the end of the day for quiet reflection with a cup of tea. I review my day, week, or even month and gain a sense of how I might face the next day, goal, or challenge in my everyday life. I joked with a friend, another teacher, that it was in these moments I developed my teaching plan A, then B from which I could quickly pivot to plans C or even Z when needed. Even in my downtime, I strategized; I believed it made me feel more prepared. As my summertime moved slowly toward the beginning of the new school year, my thoughts lingered on these yearbook checklist points:
Whose Book Is The Yearbook?
Many advisers struggle with this topic. Your role as a yearbook adviser is heavy with responsibility–not only for the creation of the book, but also for its financial success! As the production/financial manager, a yearbook adviser ultimately reports to the administration regarding the successful completion of the yearbook. The administration needs to be kept apprised of all choices, any challenges or setbacks, and achievements. It is wise to know how much “input” the administration wants to have in the process. Some administrators acknowledge the yearbook as a student publication process and will clearly define moments where their intervention will be required. Other administrators desire a more hands-on approach. The adviser’s job is to liaison between the staff and the administration to create a product that is on time and relatively problem free. Both students and administrators will appreciate the adviser establishing a protocol so students have agency over the yearbook, and a balance is created where policies are respected.
What Is Going To Stay, What Is Going To Go, And What Might We Try?
A reflective teacher spends the time redesigning, adding to, and adjusting so that every student can be successful. This takes time, intention, deliberation, and an openness to change. At the close of every school year, enough time has passed to reflect on teaching methods and lessons taught. These deliberations may lead to constructive redesigning of lesson plans, learning activities, ideas for discussions, and research topics. Inevitably, these instructional practices are reshaped in light of newly discovered concepts, better access to materials or different resources, in addition to students’ receptivity. Resources and learning activities are measured by how successfully they assisted students in mastering concepts and skills. These criteria help determine whether curricular redesign is necessary. Curriculum is an organic-like medium. It is not static; it is active–moving from one state of being to another, always seeking its best iteration for best results for each student. Yearbooks are, if nothing else, a record of changes over time. Moving with the times, staying attuned and relevant are essential qualifiers for yearbook classrooms, too.
Are We Going to Value What We Deliver and Deliver What We Value?
This concept has to do with quality of product. It is also about maintaining a purpose for creating the yearbook. At the beginning of the yearbook journey, my staff examined and answered the question, “Why a Yearbook?” My staff spent time writing a corporate mission statement to act as their “True North'' during the year. They wrote their statement after they read the blog,“Why a Yearbook” by Dr. John Tuttle, United Yearbook, and after they delved into yearbooks from years past, and investigated historical reasons why yearbooks are a part of schools in the United States. They also wrote a vision statement that detailed 3 to 5 strategies to enact the mission statement. These were their Statements of Purpose. Beyond any grades or bragging rights, these two statements gave meaning to their commitment to the yearbook. By the end of the year, we all could gauge how well we were able to abide by both. In some years the staff were more golden than in others. But in all the years we created those statements, posted them in the classroom, referred to them frequently, and reflected on how successful we were collaboratively as well as individually, we saw growth! The summertime reflection inspired my own recommitment to this process.
What Needs To Go Into The School Calendar Now?
It is also important to note the practical matters. The official school calendar needs attention! The yearbook events have to be on the calendar as soon as possible.
School Portraits–if this isn’t already scheduled by the school with a photographer/company.
Cover/Endsheets Reveal Event
Yearbook Distribution & Signing Event
Remember to get any summer events, competitions and team practice schedules that may need coverage from the school calendar. Are there any co-curricular or student leadership retreats? Candid shots and spotlight interviews will be a great way to start the new school year. Plan and assign that coverage with your staff.
Connect With Your New Staff!
Take the time to get to know your staff. If you can’t have a Bootcamp or an orientation workshop of some kind for your staff, plan a coffee date or get together at a meeting room at the local library. Just spending informal time together brainstorming ideas will spark inspiration for the start of the year. Remember to be ready for those first two weeks of school. All the events, including registration, will need to be covered by the yearbook staff. Please spend some time prepping what the assignments will look like, and how they need to be delegated. This informal time together will serve more than one purpose.
And if you’ve never taught a yearbook class?
Don’t worry! United Yearbook has your back! Take some time and read through some of our blogs. These are written by advisers and our publisher–people who have been where you are and are invested in your success. We have a curriculum to support your work in your classroom, and offer both online and onsite workshops for you and your students. (Take a deep breath!) Call on us. We will accompany you on your yearbook journey.
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 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.