Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Do you suffer from yearbook COPD?

Those commercials that show people suffering from COPD with an elephant sitting on their chests reminds me of what it's like to advise a yearbook during the months of February and early March.

Unlike the sad math teachers that have the yearbook thrust upon them because they're the low men on the totem pole, I actually went to school for this.

Kind of.

Even advising a yearbook successfully is never something you can fully learn to do until you've been thrown into the middle of it, just like any part of teaching (regardless of how much you enjoy doing it).

Even more difficult, I have 13 and 14-year-olds working on it.

Yes. I work with middle school students, and they're in charge of producing the yearbook: writing stories, taking all the pictures and designing it.

The typical journalism adviser in high school works with sophomores, juniors and seniors, and they get to keep the same kids for those three years. The kids learn, build, and become the leaders by their senior year, taking over the yearbook and work to make it the best that it can be.

I get new kids every nine-to-ten weeks.

And we're putting together a 152-page book.

I repeat: I am trusting kids, who are barely teenagers, to work on a historical book that documents the events of a school year, and it costs over $20,000 to create.

I mean, parents pay for this thing. People are actually purchasing my students' homework.

No wonder I feel like I'm suffering from yearbook COPD. With two-and-a-half weeks left before the final deadline, there are moments when I feel like a giant yearbook is sitting on my chest. My lungs tighten, and I know my breathing won't get better until the final page has been submitted.

Then, I can breathe easy for another ten months.

Yearbook advisers are just like any professional journalist. We deal with deadlines, and for some reason, we see them approach us like waves in the ocean, and you know what, this journalist is going to approach those deadlines like I've got a surfboard in my hands.