Preaching to the (yearbook) choir

No photo No excuses

In my time as a yearbook and newspaper adviser, I’ve met many other advisers, and though there are many ways they can be divided up, I’ve come to the conclusion there are two types: those who grow and learn by connecting with others and those who live in a vacuum.

I just returned from Herff Jones’s Adviser Essentials workshop in Kansas City, Kansas, where I met dozens (OK, I never really counted, but seemed like about 40) other yearbook advisers, and each of them seemed enthusiastic about their jobs, even though the majority were just beginning their journeys as advisers. Even if they were a little nervous about the relatively huge task ahead of them, I believe they left feeling better about things. In my seven years as an adviser, I’ve attended two other similar workshops in summer, five student summer workshops (I DIY’d last summer because we missed the company-sponsored one) and fall and spring conventions with breakout sessions. I also connect with advisers nation-wide through a special Twitter chat I helped develop, #jerdchat (currently alternating Saturdays at 10 am CT).

The leadership at this workshop was fantastic. Besides the Herff Jones execs and reps in charge of facilitating, three very experienced advisers shared the wisdom they’d gained in their collective years of teaching and guiding. They weren’t the only leaders, however. The rest of us, though technically we were students, I suppose, offered up our own suggestions, what has worked for us, what kinds of situations we’d found ourselves in over the years, and added to the overall sharing. It was the best kind of learning atmosphere, where the leaders know they don’t know everything and encourage participation from those they are leading – just like our classrooms should be.

This is in contrast to a few other advisers I’ve run across, not many because that is their trademark: they don’t join; they don’t connect. The reasons for their non-connectiveness, I would have to guess, include that they figure they have it down, what they do is working so why change anything? Or, perhaps they are uncomfortable letting anyone else see that what they are doing might NOT really be working well, so they hide away from anyone who might tell them there is a better way. Or maybe they just don’t know all the support that is out there for them. From national and state organizations to advisers in nearby communities, publications advisers have been some of the most helpful and supportive people I’ve ever met. But you don’t know that until you discover that.

Unfortunately, those anti-connect advisers (like the ones who don’t join our state scholastic media association) probably aren’t the ones reading this. So if you are an adviser who knows the joys of connecting with other brilliant minds like your own, try to make contact with advisers who might be unaware of the value that’s right there waiting for them to connect. Make it your mission to adopt an adviser and share some knowledge and support.

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About teachjournalism
I am a high school teacher of journalism, technology and reading. I advise the school's newspaper and yearbook, both student-led publications. Documenting and sharing my experiences is a way of reflecting to improve my own work and and inviting commentary so that we might all benefit. I believe, as I tell my students each year, that we all learn from each other.

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