Congratulations! The yearbook is done… Now what? I remember the years before I found TreeRing Yearbooks, when my publisher called in the pages at the end of February. A whole quarter of yearbook students with “nothing” to do was a pedagogical nightmare. Even with a three-week turnaround, TreeRing advisers everywhere need inspiration, motivation, and a few learning outcomes to finish the year. After talking with several advisers, we compiled this list of things to do to make the end of the year even more meaningful.
1. Keep, Change, Stop
This is a conversation to have with your printed proof in hand. Thumb through as a team, project some spreads on the wall and complete a matrix. What aspects of your program are proverbial home runs and should be keepers? What needs to be changed? (Use this time to brainstorm solutions.) What needs to be stopped?
How it worked in San Diego, CA
After ten years at a K-12 private school, the yearbook staff said they wanted to stop having a purple yearbook. It was a sacred cow we were ready to take off the altar. We color-coded the book in warm reds for the upper school and cool blues for the lower school. When we did the reveal, some of the lifers were enraged until the editor explained, “Blue plus red equals purple.” Cue tears.
It was another five years before we did a purple book again. Had we not had the Keep-Change-Stop conversation, the journalism program would continue to limit its creativity and every book would essentially be a spirit book.
2. Honor the Yearbook Heroes
Grab a stack of thank you cards from the dollar store and take time to recognize the people who helped you create the book, from the office team who gives you the roster at the start of the year to the mom who tirelessly uploads photos from the pick up line. If you are not acknowledging the yearbook heroes on your campus in your colophon, think of a public way to do so:
- School marquee
- Social media post
- Special luncheon
- Send a THNKS a latte
How it worked in Olathe, KS
Being unable to set foot on campus last year was certainly an obstacle, but with the help of our amazing PTO members, school staff, yearbook committee, and community of parents, we were able to still capture the year in a holistic way. We worked with parents to showcase our year in and outside of school.
Because it was a collaborative effort, and we really do have such an awesome community of parents who make this all possible, it was easy to make a video and celebrate our yearbook coordinator through TreeRing’s #YearbookHero Contest.
3. Make Time for Fun
How many of us Type-A advisers focus on business and forget to play? When the yearbook is finished, it’s the best time to celebrate. Some ideas for stress-releasing fun include:
- Craft time
- Digital escape rooms
- Game nights
- Sundae bars
How it worked in Clarksville, TN
All of us brought in a board game to play. Our adviser made us rotate for a week and try one another’s. I learned Exploding Kittens, Sequence, and mancala. It helped us break down the stress of finishing the book and focus on celebrating as a team. After the week, we went back to business and got ready for our signing party.
4. Hold a Social Media Bootcamp
The period between going print-ready and distributing your yearbook is the ideal time to teach new skills, such as social media marketing. If your school has a social presence, adding yearbook-related content is one idea to keep what you and your committee are doing top of mind.Tweet
Before you bring in a marketing professional or check out a professional course, set the goals and expectations with your team. Do you want to
- Recruit volunteers?
- Sell more yearbooks?
- Crowdsource content?
How it worked in Arlington Heights, IL
Going social was the best thing we did for our yearbook. When I saw the social media calendar, we adopted it and it increased our followers, which increased our yearbook sales and crowdsourcing efforts.
We also created a hashtag for our yearbook, so if any parents posted a photo—if they used the hashtag—we would consider it for publication. This helped us get a bunch of photos we wouldn’t normally have: boarding the bus, friend groups at events, and cultural events.
5. Brainstorm Evergreen Ideas
Evergreen content for yearbooks is a collection of interview questions, infographic topics, and story ideas that can be used throughout the year. (Here are 90 to get you started. You’re welcome.)While we want to have a yearbook that reflects the current year and trends, having a timeless collection for reporters and designers serves two purposes:
- Something to do: in that first of the year lull, students can build out evergreen modules and work hard to incorporate less involved students.
- Fill coverage holes: sometimes an event doesn’t happen (hello 2020). Sometimes a student doesn’t cover an event. Sometimes you just have holes. By having a collection from which to draw, you will always have usable content.
How it worked in Williamstown, KY
I remember the first time a student missed an assignment. As a second-year teacher and rookie adviser, I felt like a failure because I didn’t have a contingency plan. My editor actually came up with the idea to have a question of the day. She would text the question in the morning and everyone would ask three students. They would then input the responses into a Google Form.
We kept all the questions related to our theme, Give + Take. They were simple like “Give us your top three songs” or “If you could take a class on anything, what would it be?” Since they were thematic, it was a perfect complement to our book. If we needed a student for coverage or had a blank spot on the spread, we had the material for an instant quote bar. Using Google Forms also allowed us to track and sort the answers by the respondent.
6. I Do, You Do, We Do
I Do, You Do, We Do is a teambuilding idea as well as way to add in professional growth. It works like this:
- I pick a skill to teach the class and demonstrate it
- You learn and apply the skill
- We do it together
How it worked in Miami, FL
We decided we wanted to use Doodle as our theme for next year and wanted to create coloring book-style pages in the book for dividers and such. None of us are Photoshop pros, so our adviser suggested we learn. Each of us on the editorial team for next year picked a video on YouTube to watch. Then we taught our classmates how to do it. Teaching my friends to do something I just learned made me proud and they listened well.
7. Practice Interviewing
It’s easy to fire off a text that says, “Give me a quote for yearbook,” but yearbook staffs don’t do easy journalism. Spend some time refining your reporting using the yearbook storytelling module of TreeRing’s free curriculum.
How it worked in Lakeside, CA
Our district hired a branding company to re-do the website, marketing materials, and our social presence. They brought in a photographer to capture student life and take professional headshots of the staff. When the final products came out, they were incomplete. No one knows the Warriors like the Warriors, so I seized an opportunity: hire out my yearbook students.
We wanted to improve our writing, so we created a list of questions to ask teachers and re-wrote all the staff bios for the website.
With these seven actionable ideas, you can find a place of rest going into summer. If you want to get a head start on planning for the fall semester, check out six weeks of yearbook lessons, including rubrics and a yearbook class syllabus.