Turning Every Step of the Yearbook Class into a Teachable Moment

Remember, every moment of yearbook class is a learning experience.
Photo credit: Flickr CC user Intel Free Press

As a yearbook advisor, it’s often easy to get caught up in the daily grind of deadlines, deadlines, and more deadlines. But then you miss out on the bigger picture of the yearbook class – teaching students important life skills they can apply in their day-to-day lives. While it’s definitely important to make sure layouts and stories are on track for each deadline, it’s also important to take a moment each day and really give the students some insight into the importance of what they’re doing and how it will impact them later on in their lives.

Whenever you start to feel like you’re running more of a newsroom than a classroom, step back and think of some of these key points:

  1. Everyone has a story worth sharing

The yearbook is all about painting a picture of your students’ lives right now. Everyone has a story to tell and every story is an important and valid one – not just the football quarterback or valedictorian. Finding the unique angle in every student’s life and celebrating it through words and pictures is one of the key components to the yearbook’s ultimate success. Every life is valuable and we should remind ourselves of this daily.

  1. Always hold yourself accountable

The yearbook is a deadline-driven class. If you miss a deadline, your story has the potential to get cut. It is up to each student to hold themselves accountable for their assignments. Working for the yearbook is not a one period type of course – it takes a lot of time and dedication outside of the classroom walls in order to get a killer story. If someone drops the ball, someone’s important achievement might go on the cutting room floor and the student has to deal with the repercussions.

  1. Learn to take constructive criticism

Working on the yearbook is a collaborative effort and sometimes team members disagree with different ideas. Learning how to take someone’s criticism and using it to be constructive is a tool that will carry you through many situations in your adult life. Sit with your students and go over their layouts. Ask them why they chose to do something in a particular way and talk them through different ways they could approach the same page. Let them talk themselves through the process and they might find better alternatives on their own.

  1. Networking is key

Yes, getting a job takes hard work and passion, but who you know can also play a key role in shaping the path of your career. Learning how to network effectively early on will not only help students down the road, but help them hone their social and sales skills. As a yearbook staff member, students learn how to conduct interviews, close sales accounts, and dig for stories by chatting with people from all types of backgrounds. Gaining confidence in these abilities can only enhance their opportunities for future success.

  1. A picture is worth a thousand words

We live in the age of constant information. People are so frequently posting selfless of themselves or tagging people in posts that we often start to glaze over what’s really happening in someone’s life. Sometimes it’s capturing the littlest moments that make the biggest impact on someone. Always encourage students to express their artistic side and look beyond the duck lips. What do they want people to look back and remember about their generation?  Asking this question alone will yield some pretty powerful answers.

What lessons do you try to stress to your yearbook class? How do you balance productivity with teachable moments? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comment box below!