Coordinating a yearbook to over a thousand students can be quite a nerve-wracking challenge, am I right? Luckily, there are many ways to make this happen.
Christel at St Augustine’s College knows what she’s talking about when it comes to coordinating massive yearbook projects. Whether you’re planning on mastering this yourself or just looking for tips to get more organised, Christel has the answers.
So what’s her secret? Magic? Santa’s helpers? It simply comes down to great planning and teamwork. Care to learn more? Have a look at the interview ahead!
What’s involved in a yearbook project
Your Yearbook has a total of 210 pages, there’s no doubt the size is impressive! How would you present the project to a beginner?
We are very proud of our yearbook. It is a piece of our history that tells our story. Both our staff and students treasure each yearbook and the anticipation to distribution is intense. Our yearbook project is very large and a yearlong process that begins at the start of every year and involves all of our staff here at St Augustine’s College (StAC). We have a yearbook committee of approx. 5 to 10 members who help make decisions regarding the yearbook and also assist the rest of staff with meeting our deadlines, etc. We are a MAC and Windows college so our staff use a wide variety of programs and resources to make pages such as Photoshop, Microsoft Publisher, the online Fusion system, etc. It is a large project that requires collaboration from our whole staff.
The main steps of the yearbook journey
What are the classic steps for a yearbook project?
There are so many steps that our yearbook project goes through. First, at the start of the year, I work on the flat plan, making sure it’s correct for the year. This gets sent out to all staff for feedback and edits.
We set up a yearbook committee (different members each year) who help make decisions about the flat plan, what company to go with (every year we obtain 3 quotes from various yearbook companies), work on deadlines for the year, etc.
Every year staff are given two options in regards to their page. Option A – someone else makes my page for me (I get photos, blurbs, content) or Option B – I completely make my own page. I then release the first deadline with some ‘How To’ documents that I set up for our staff outlining the process for Option A or Option B.
Once the deadline is passed, the yearbook committee follow up any staff whose pages have missed the deadline. Then we repeat the process for the next deadline, etc until the yearbook is complete.
The yearbook is split into approx. 4 different deadlines. First deadline is for all homegroup pages, second deadline is for all subject pages, and the last two are for various event pages and the pages at the start and end of our yearbook. Towards the end of the year, our proof-readers (yearbook committee members) begin proof reading the pages.
Once all edits have been made, I submit our yearbook to Fusion so they can begin printing and production. Finally, once the yearbook arrives (before our year 12s graduate), we distribute the yearbook to our families.
Who does what in a yearbook project?
Could you give us more details about your yearbook team structure? Who did what and why was it helpful to organise your team like that? Any regrets or recommendations for the future?
> Yearbook Coordinator: Has overall responsibility. Organises the whole process from start to finish and also creates pages.
> Photographer: Takes photos of events, masses, classes, sports, etc (photos are not only for yearbook use).
> Yearbook Committee: Works on cover design. Helps make decisions regarding yearbook as a whole. Assists and supports staff to achieve deadlines, etc.
> Contributors: All staff who have been assigned yearbook page(s). They design their pages and send in their instructions for Fusion or the Yearbook Coordinator to make. Some staff also design and make their own pages.
A little more in depth…
Your yearbook is a well structured publication that’s easy to follow while reading. Did you set up your team in relation to the structure of the yearbook?
Almost every teacher at StAC has the responsibility of one or more yearbook pages. We don’t really organise a team in relation to our yearbook structure, as the Early Years teaching staff have responsibility of the Early Years section, and the Junior Years teaching staff have responsibility of the Junior Years section, and so on.
This shares the load across the college and makes our yearbook and its process very logical. There are pages at the start and end of the yearbook whose responsibility lies with our leadership team, curriculum leaders, pastoral leaders, etc.
Was the yearbook builder helpful to get the project done?
The yearbook builder by Fusion has been extremely helpful to get our yearbook completed. It is one of the main reasons we keep coming to Fusion for our yearbook as no other company has the same excellent online setup and ability to make pages so well.
If our staff choose to make their own page(s), they are offered access to the online Fusion yearbook builder to make their page(s). Usually only the tech savvy staff go for this option so we’ve never done training or such.
Our staff have commented on how easy it is to use, etc. My advice – use the online yearbook builder – it’s a godsend and amazing.
As we all know, a yearbook project requires time, energy and organisation. Did you get everything done in your spare time or did you manage to include some of the steps in courses or school workshops? In a perfect world, what would you suggest?
Our yearbook project is very large and very time consuming. The Yearbook Coordinator is actually part of my role/position here are St Augustine’s College. We don’t do courses or school workshops as our teachers are busy enough already and most staff have their pages made by Fusion or by the Yearbook Coordinator. This system works for us.
How did you communicate with your team and keep track of their progress?
Working in a big team requires great communication. Could you tell us how you managed to keep track of everyone’s progress?
We track the progress of the yearbook via a spreadsheet in Excel – our flat plan. We also have a printed flat plan that is used for notes and to check off pages that are completed, etc. I also use a notebook where I write notes about each page such as when the page content is ready, when it was made, when the proof was sent, edits done, and finally when page is completed. I write dates next to these to keep track of contact with staff, etc. I mostly communicate with everyone via email and speaking at our staff briefings which occur weekly.
What were the biggest challenges you and your team faced while creating the yearbook and how did you overcome them?
Our biggest challenge has always been to get pages in by their deadlines. We always have pages that are very overdue, but every year, the yearbook gets completed. I’ve found that you need to be flexible with deadlines, with staff, with your flat plan, etc.
The yearbook may be your number 1 priority, but it is not a priority for everyone else, especially when most of your contributors are teachers who have curriculum deadlines and reports to do on top of their teaching load, etc.
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