Finding the right job for every staffer

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We all have them. The kid thrown into yearbook who has no desire to work on it. The student you don’t quite trust in the hallways. The student who’s sweet as can be, but can’t write a story or take a photo to save his life. We’ve got a few suggestions so that stuck student isn’t stuck with nothing to do.

It’s the yearbook dilemma. What do you with students who don’t want to be in yearbook? We asked advisers on our Facebook group to weigh-in and they overwhelmingly advocated for a simple solution:

Find their strengths.

“One of the positives about yearbook class is there’s a place for everyone. Find a job they can do and ensure they believe that job is important. We’ve had two autistic students—one was great at taking care of the cameras, and his senior year, he had his own spread. The others loved helping him, and there was a true sense of triumph at the end. This year, one of my autistic students is an assistant editor, and he does a great job with the details that few others notice. There’s always a job on the marketing team—creating memes to sell the book, moving posters around and creating giant posters. Buddy the ones who don’t want to be there with someone who’s enthusiastic—they’re the best sales people you’ve got for generating positivity, and buddy them up on photo assignments. There’s few students who don’t enjoy having a ‘real’ camera in their hands, having a press pass and learning from a classmate or the adviser on the sidelines.” –Denise Adams, B. F. Terry High School

“I’ve got one who would sit and stare frozen at the screen when given a spread. After two tries, we switched things up and now she’s identifying people in group photos and typing the captions like a boss. We also assign each newbie a mentor before they get their first spread.” –Jill Chumley, Tomball Memorial High School

“Everyone has a purpose. Everyone has a skill. Don’t expect the same work or product from every kid. One kid’s ‘best’ looks a lot different from another’s. Find a place and purpose for every person because they’re worth it. One year we had a kid who was solely in charge of encouragement. And dang, he was GOOD at it. We needed that in our classroom just as much as we needed great designers, writers or photographers. Don’t box kids in. Take the time to differentiate the work for them.” –Samantha Berry, Bridgeland High School

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Whether it’s checking for mistakes, creating posters or encouraging staffers, there’s a job for everyone in yearbook. The trick is finding each student’s strengths. Photo by Kel Lemons

Simple but important tasks

In finding each staffer’s purpose, it’s important to make clear the role is important. There are plenty of other jobs besides writer, designer and photographer. Think about these responsibilities that could be given:

  • Folios — Verify accuracy of page numbers, sections, topics and colors used on the page folios.
  • Whole-book links — Collect, organize, edit and/or place mugs and quotes for thematic sidebars that run throughout the book. Whole-book links can bring hundreds of additional students in the book, but they need a tracking system and time to prepare and place.
  • Page edits — Verify name spellings, grades and titles; Spellcheck and edit for typos and grammatical mistakes
  • IDs — Identify group shot candids, club and team group shots
  • Index — Index names, groups, sports, events page by page
  • In the book notes — Create, organize and deliver notes to students who are in the book. Consider making notes for students who have bought a book and those who haven’t.
  • Tracking Keep track of yearbook data of buyers and how many times students are in the book. Utilize a paper or digital format that is easily accessible and reviewable by the staff.
  • Advertising — Handmake fliers and posters to promote yearbook sales, senior ad deadlines and picture day information
  • Social media marketing — Provide sales and deadline information via social media. Use apps like Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok to create fun sales campaigns, document what’s happening in class and share sneak peeks of covers and spreads.
  • Video editing — Film, edit and produce promos, announcements and fun class moments. Share with the student body to build excitement about the book. Save some clips and interviews for an end-of-the-year celebration.
  • Sort & deliver — organize and deliver yearbook fliers, picture day packages, senior ad information
  • Fun planning — Decorate for holidays, plan staff bonding events like cookie decorating, Secret Santa parties and Valentine’s Day fun. Recognize birthdays and host mini-stress relief breaks. Create weekly or monthly staff awards, related to deadlines, productivity and effort.

It’s a chore…

If you’re still looking for ideas, or need some work for staffers who are already done (overachievers!) or can’t work on the spreads for one reason or another, here is one more idea. A chore jar is a great way to keep the room organized and keep students on task. Another option is to request staffers visit the chore jar once a week as part of their yearbook responsibilities.

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The chore jar at Glacier Peak High School includes several cleaning and organizing tasks. Photos by Kel Lemons

The jar could be a glass jar, metal pail or other plastic container. Place slips of paper or popsicle sticks inside the container. Each slip or stick should have one task written on it. These tasks can range from cleaning and organizing to more creative endeavors like deleting photos and making memes.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Wipe computer screens and keyboards
  • Clean tables or desks
  • Clean out fridge
  • Pick up trash under desks
  • Organize the staff’s yearbook shelf
  • Organize other schools’ yearbooks alphabetically and by year
  • Organize cameras & lenses
  • Erase chalkboard calendar & refresh with current dates
  • Erase white board
  • Refill paper in printer
  • Delete blurry photos
  • Make marketing posters
  • Create yearbook memes

Counselors aren’t always willing to move unmotivated students. But maybe it’s not necessary. Yearbook is an unusual class with a lot of different responsibilities. It’s our job to make sure we find the right job for each of our staffers.

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