Keeping Motivation High: Pom Poms and Pancakes

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You did it! They did it! You’re meeting deadlines, flowing class photos in and wrapping up the fall sports pages. With a big project like the yearbook, it’s important to reward achievements along the way.

In order to get your staff to cross the finish line, remember to reward them. Post to social media how the staff is attending games, covering clubs, interviewing students, etc., all to create a memorable, one-of-a-kind yearbook for the student body.

Here’s a few ways to keep the momentum going:

Pat on the Back: Invite your principal to come down and give the staff a pep talk. Being recognized by administrators is a big deal. This also lets the principal know how much work goes into creating the yearbook. Invite him or her to see the pages your staff has created.

For those major deadlines, when they’ve filled all the ad pages or completed all the portrait pages, a bigger celebration is needed:

Make Some Noise. Ask the band director if a few of the percussion players could come to your room and give the entering staffers a fun drum roll. Get horn blowers and confetti and congratulate them as they come in for class. 

Cheer: Invite the cheer squad to come down and give your staff their own surprise cheer. After all, cheering goes on throughout the game, not just at the end. For even more fun, get a couple of pom-poms and cheer along with the squad!

Ice Cream Party: You’ll need bowls, ice cream and a variety of toppings – sprinkles, crushed Oreo cookies – the works. They love ice cream, so get plenty! 

Cupcake Party: Get unfrosted cupcakes, two per student. Raid the cake aisle in the supermarket for a variety of cake toppings. Call out some of the hurdles the staff had to jump over in order to get where they are. For each roadblock they’ve cleared, put sprinkles on the cupcakes. By the end, they’ll realize how much they’ve overcome. 

Pancake party. You’ll need: complete pancake mix, water, butter, syrup, spatula, paper plates and at least two griddles. Ask the Culinary Arts teacher if you can use the kitchen and make pancakes for everyone. It’s an inexpensive party, but having something you cooked for them means the world. 

End of the Year: Start planning in late March. Order plastic drinking cups in bulk from Dollar Tree or Oriental Trading Company. Fill each cup with hard candies and present to each staffer at the end of the year along with a “thank-you” certificate.


Yearbook staffers face numerous obstacles, not just in your class.

Many of your students are active in extracurricular activities, are officers in clubs, juggle an after-school job or have home responsibilities. Letting them know you understand what they overcome to meet the deadlines will build a stronger bond between you and them.

Step 1: Blow up at least 10 balloons and write a different obstacle staffers face on each balloon. These could include: Too much homework, away games, having to find a ride, rainy night, camera not working, etc.

Step 2: Put balloons in a big plastic bag and pull out a balloon one by one, reading aloud the roadblock. Toss each balloon into the air and tell the staff to keep all the balloons in the air. 

Step 3: When all of the balloons are bouncing around the room, remind the staff how hard they’re working at juggling life and still committed to meeting their deadlines. 

Step 4: After a few minutes watching them bat the balloons around the room, ask them to grab one balloon and have a seat. 

Step 5: Have staffers, one by one, read what’s on their balloon and then talk about how to overcome that obstacle. For example, if the obstacle is having to find a ride to an away game, tell them you can get them a ride on either the team bus, the cheer bus or the dance squad bus if you know in advance. Then pop the balloon and go on to the next obstacle. Acknowledge you understand the issues they face and then give them a way to handle the problem.

All of us need motivation and rewards along the way. Make sure your staff feels valued and appreciated every single day!

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