Posts by ExecBoard

Choosing The Right Editor-in-Chief

Posted by on Feb 6, 2017 in Adviser Resources | 0 comments

Choosing The Right Editor-in-Chief

*Note: This was published last year around the same time and I feel it’s something we can all think about each time this year when it comes to looking at leadership for your publication’s staff. Enjoy it again!

Choosing an Editor-in-Chief for student publications is one of my favorite things to do. It’s a chance for a fresh start and there’s nothing quite like seeing a student’s excitement when you offer them the position,

It is also one of my most dreaded things I have to do as an adviser too because, despite the previous sentence, there is also the other side of it. Having to inform a student who did not get the nod is a tough thing to do because their dream of being EIC is crushed, and you just hope it doesn’t drive them from wanting to be a part of the publication.

As advisers, we sometimes spend weeks collecting applications, performing interviews, and pouring over portfolios and emails from co-workers trying to narrow down to those students who will lead our publications in the coming school year. There’s no magic wand or formula to choosing the best candidate, but as a former leadership consultant prior to my days as a publications adviser, here is some advice for making the process a little easier.

  • Go through the application process. Having an application for students to fill out gives them a chance to tell you a little about themselves and why they want to be EIC up front. Plus, it’s a good indicator as to who is taking the process seriously. Timeliness, proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation, plus how they articulate their thoughts are all factors that go into my final decision. The application is the first step.
  • Put the application online. Trust me, this is going to save you so much time. Using Google Forms is my preferred way to manage the application. This places all answers into a nice and neat spreadsheet in which I can filter and quickly look at each applicant’s answers. Click here for the link to my EIC application at St. Teresa’s.
  • Perform an interview. I know. Ain’t nobody got time for that! Despite this, it’s another great indicator of how your applicant will handle a high-stress situation. For example, last year, I had an applicant whose written application was full of great ideas and very articulate. However, when she came in for her interview she froze up and could barely get a word out. This was a factor in my decision in the end, as I wondered if she would be able to communicate with staffers when she needed to. Plus, this is a great chance to ask questions you didn’t ask on the application or to have an applicant expand on their ideas from the application.
  • Ask for feedback from your peers. We only see our students for a small percentage of the day. Other teachers, coaches, and club or organization sponsors can give you a wider picture of an applications leadership potential. Don’t be afraid to ask for their feedback as well. I do this every year not just with my EIC applicants, but for new staff applicants as well.

Outside of the process of helping you make a more informed decision, here are some factors I take into account when all the above has been done.

  • Practice what you preach. Perhaps the most important factor I look for when choosing an EIC is do they hold themselves to the same standards they will expect from their staff? Do they meet deadlines? Do they help others without being asked to? Do they go above and beyond what their current duties are, whether they are a staff writer, page designer, or managing editor?
  • Leadership. This one is wide open to interpretation, but what obstacles would keep this applicant from being a strong leader? Do they delegate tasks or do they take over? Will staffers be able to trust in the decisions the applicant will have to  make?
  • Communication. Does the applicant have the ability to listen to others? Do they have the ability to communicate well face-to-face, electronically, online?
  • Time in class. Do they spend the whole class period working on their own assignments or have they taken the time to help others when asked?
  • Open mindedness. Are they open to the ideas of others or is it their way or the highway? Are they open to trying new ideas? Are they ok with tearing down the whole publication from story ideas to publication and starting over or are they ok with the status quo?
  • Trust. This kind of ties into the first one but can they be trusted to follow through? Will staffers be able to view them as their leader or just as their peer?

Although this is the process I go through, the most important thing is to find a process that works well both for you and for your publications.

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Online Senior Ad Submission

Posted by on Oct 24, 2016 in Tips and Ideas | 0 comments

Online Senior Ad Submission

So we tried something new this year at Blue Valley High — we asked parents to submit all senior ad content online — crazy, right?!

I set up the form on Survey Gizmo (super easy, by the way). I then linked all of the survey information to a Google Sheet.

Here are some perks we’ve noticed so far:

  • When I ask for a 50-word limit on an eighth-page ad, they can’t progress through the form unless it’s 50 words or less. Also, while designing, students just have to copy/paste from the Google Sheet — it’s exactly what the parents submitted.
  • For the first deadline, we had TWO checks. Out of 168 submissions. Amazing. (We have parents pay on Vendini. It charges us like 4 percent of the total, but if you wanted, you could charge that to the parents. It’s totally worth it, in my opinion! There are also probably other sites that charge a lower fee, but this is the one used at my school.)
  • Everything is uploaded at once. Very rarely did we wait on an extra photo coming from a photographer/hard copy submission/etc.
  • Surprisingly, we had fewer issues with low-quality photos submitted.

Below is a series of screenshots I took from my phone. The submission process is broken down a bit more on the phone than it is on the computer, but this allows more of a step-by-step explanation.

Senior Ad Setup

 

Here is a link to the online submission form. goo.gl/1bNnGr. Feel free to mess with it. We are done with senior ad submissions already, so it won’t mess us up if you submit something. You can also see what the confirmation looks like if you enter a valid email address.

Also, here is a copy of our senior ad information sheet with FAQs we send to parents. By all means, look it over.

If you have more questions, please feel free to ask me. My email address is mnhuss@bluevalleyk12.org.

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Hall Passes to Interview During Classes

Posted by on Aug 31, 2016 in Tips and Ideas | 0 comments

Hall Passes to Interview During Classes

We know our students *shouldn’t* interview during class because stories turn out better if they don’t, but we also know they *do* interview during class.

My students started this last year in yearbook, and the newspaper staff picked it up this year. We created hall passes of sorts and added common times for the student body to come to the publications room to be interviewed.

Of course, they can go elsewhere once they meet up instead of staying in the loud room. It’s been very helpful for tracking down people at their teacher’s convenience instead of expecting them to be available at our beckon call — you mean, they DO stuff in other classes?!

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 8.37.50 AM                    Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 8.38.24 AM

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2016 Annual Contest Results

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in Contests | 0 comments

Thank you to those of you who made it to the awards ceremony last night at the KU Edwards Campus. More than 120 people attended, and we were excited to give out awards for the great journalistic pieces created for this year’s media.

Here is the slideshow with all of the winners and the work they submitted. Congratulations to all of our winners. Enjoy the end of the school year and your summer!

 

 

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Managing Multiple Publications in the Same Class

Posted by on Mar 30, 2016 in Adviser Resources, Tips and Ideas | 0 comments

Managing Multiple Publications in the Same Class

This school year has been the most hectic and chaotic of my eight-year career. The main source of that chaos was trying to manage yearbook, magazine and website in the same hour, with different staffs, in different rooms. To say this was less than ideal is an understatement. Did I mention this was going to be our first year transitioning from a monthly newspaper to a magazine as well as starting a website? Probably not my brightest idea.

I tried everything I could think of last year to convince my admin to separate the classes, but my efforts were futile. The classes were going to be combined, so I had to make the best of it and prepare as best I could over the summer for what this hour of my day would look like.

Originally, I thought it would be fairly easy to manage my time between the two classes. We had class during fifth hour, which was the lunch hour and the longest class of the day. I would spend the first portion with one class, we’d all go to lunch, and I’d spend the last portion with the other class. This sounds great on paper, but it did not play out well once we started our production schedules. Students on both staffs needed my attention at the same time, and I was not prepared for how taxing this would be not only on me, but on my students as well.

I was far from perfect in handling our situation this year, but I at least came away with some helpful tips in case I’m faced with this situation again. These aren’t exclusive to managing multiple publications in the same class, but they are my takeaways from how this school year has gone for me.

*Organization

I thought I was an organized person before. I had schedules, checklists, rubrics, etc., but I had to constantly be aware of where every staff member was in their process. Before, I was able to focus on one for an hour, then switch gears when the other staff came into my room. I like to compartmentalize details, so this was a struggle for me. I had to keep multiple copies of things in each room so they were easily accessible. We’re not 1-to-1 yet, so I don’t have a computer available to use in the other room.

Next year, I’ve told all my editors we’re going to use Trello. Many advisers already use this system to manage your deadlines, so I’m hoping this will be a better tool to manage due dates and let everyone see how stories are progressing.

*Pick strong leaders

This is always essential to the success of a publication, but it’s especially so when these leaders will be in charge when the adviser not in the room. They have to be assertive, but not power-hungry. They have to be friendly, but still motivating. Leaders also have to get along with each other. We had a bit of a power struggle with section editors and the EIC at the beginning of the year that took up more time than any of us had to spare. It eventually worked itself out, but it was rocky through September.

One thing that helped was going to camp over the summer. I took both staffs to the same camp. This was a wonderful experience for the yearbook staff. They bonded, designed their cover, made ladder/coverage decisions, and generally started out the year in a really good spot.

On the other hand, newspaper did not benefit as much. Part of this was because my EIC told students who were supposed to go to the Beginning Newspaper class to go ahead and join everyone else in the Advanced Newspaper class. Not a great way to start the year. Those newbies were overwhelmed and didn’t get the basics covered at camp.

*Split time equally

Giving both staffs equal attention was harder than I imagined it would be. There were times, around deadlines, that I would go a couple of days without hardly speaking to one staff or the other. I relied on the EIC to keep everyone on-task and focused. Some days, this worked better than others (see point about picking good leaders).

I also found myself gravitating to my yearbook staff because they were the more motivated group. They “caught on” to the concepts quicker, were more outgoing, and seemed to be a stronger unit. This probably wasn’t fair of me, but at least I’ve recognized this flaw in myself. Since that realization, I’ve made a more concerted effort to spend more time in the newspaper room, but this far in the game, Senior-itis has set in, and I’m basically in a holding pattern until May. I created this monster, so I have to live with it.

I’ve had meetings with next year’s leaders already, and they are motivated to turn things around and pick up the slack from this year. Here’s hoping I picked a strong combination of leaders!

Not everything about having all my publications kids in the same class period was horrible. It was nice to only have to give field trip information once. When we talked about general class procedures and equipment procedures, I could put everyone in the same room.

Another benefit was that the staffs were able to quickly and easily communicate with each other. They helped cover events for one another and helped each other with areas of weakness. The yearbook kids helped teach photography and Photoshop; the newspaper kids helped teach some AP Style and story development.

This year stressed me out on so many different levels, but at least I’ve learned from it. If I’m ever faced with combined classes again, I’ll have this experience to look back on and will be able to learn from my mistakes.

 

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