Photo credit: Flickr CC user Jon S
Sometimes overseeing the yearbook and all of its moving parts is so fun that we forget that we’re advisers and not one of the student staffers. Let’s face it, preserving memories is rewarding on so many levels with the grand prize being the look of excitement on kids’ faces when they pick up their freshly-bound yearbook.
However, it’s not always fun and games. Every once in a while you might get a student or two who isn’t as gung-ho about creating a memory book as you are and might casually brush off an assignment or two.
That’s when you have to come in and enforce your deadline policy–no matter what the student’s excuse is this time around.
Like all things in the publishing world, a yearbook must be a tightly run ship with no lazy crew members on board if it’s to get it out to the printers and back in the students’ hands by the end of the year.
With so many students and faculty to interview, pages to design, and events to cover, it’s crucial that everyone in the class carries their weight and follows through on their assignments. Missing their deadline doesn’t just affect their class grade–that missed assignment means other students miss out on their moment to shine in the yearbook. Sure, you might be able to reschedule an interview with your school football coach, but missing fans reactions to the big homecoming game? There’s no time machine to jump into to make things right again. That’s why it’s important to set realistic deadlines and abide by them, and that you’re ready to follow up with consequences if the deadlines are not met.
Being able to weed out the passionate from the passive might be a little easier if your school requires certain benchmarks to be passed in order to participate in the yearbook elective. For example, at my high school you had to have a certain GPA and take an edit test to even be considered. But it’s a little harder if you have no say in who is on the team.
To ensure everyone is held accountable for their assignments there are a few best practices you can put into place with your students.
- In the tech world many engineers and product managers hold daily SCRUM or stand-up meetings. These meetings are short and sweet (no more than 10 minutes) and everyone has a chance to go around and briefly discuss what they’re working on and what assignments they have coming up. These meetings let other teams know what productions are coming up and hold the person accountable.
- Depending on your class size, you might want to consider weekly or bi-weekly check-ins with each student. During this time, they can go over their deadlines, discuss any issues they have with assignments in progress, or let you know if they can’t cover an event any more.
- Have a backup plan. Make sure you have several students on call to cover an after-school event like a basketball game or school dance just in case the primary reporter can no longer cover it. It’s probably best to look for the most dependable students for the on call team–the students who are looking to go into publishing or writing as professions would be good candidates for on call.
- If a student misses two or more deadlines, pull them from active yearbook duty. Instead, put them to work on projects in-house during the class period instead. You can also come up with ways for them to make up for the failed assignment and pitch new ideas in their place.
How do you handle student staff members who constantly miss their deadlines? I would love to hear your different strategies in the comment box below.