Tips on Encouraging Student Participation for the Middle School Yearbook

Elementary yearbooks are often the work of the teachers and staff with approval from the parents and students. The students are then not as encouraged to participate in making the yearbook because the adults have taken on most of the task themselves. But when it comes to the publication of many a middle school yearbook, things will change and for good reasons, too.

During middle school, students are encouraged to take on more responsibilities to prepare them for the challenges of life in general and of high school in particular. It should be noted that middle school in the United States is the transition period between the elementary and high school years with the aim being to equip the students with the right skills and knowledge for higher education.

The middle school yearbook is considered as one of the venues for developing the students’ skills in various areas including graphic design, photography, journalism, and leadership, among others. Just imagine, too, the number of people you will be dealing with during the process and you are better able to build up your self-confidence in your communication skills.

With that being said, it can also be difficult to encourage middle school students to participate in the making of the middle school yearbooks. Shyness, trepidation and anxiety are the primary reasons provided for such hesitation but this should not be! A middle school yearbook is relatively easy to make – it can be said of all yearbooks, for that matter – with the proper guidance from teachers and the proper attitude among the students.

Here are tips then to encourage student participation:

• Inform the students via bulletin boards and public service announcements about auditions for staff for the yearbook as well as for ideas for it. You will be surprised at the abundance of great ideas from students so tap into it.

• Start as early as possible. Don’t wait until the middle of the school year to start work on the middle school yearbook. As soon as school starts in September, be active in campaigning for the yearbook such as during the students’ orientation, the PTA meetings, and the organizations’ meetings.

• Provide a venue where students can express their ideas for the yearbook in a safe manner – no negative criticisms, no harsh words, no bullying, that is. Perhaps, the guidance counselor can place a box for ideas for the middle school yearbook; students need not write their names, if they so desire, on the suggestions.

• Conduct regular forums so that the student body can see the progress being made. It need not be a face-to-face forum since a bulletin board and a suggestion box will suffice to a certain extent. Meetings, however, should be a staple aspect of making yearbooks at any level.
Keep in mind that a middle school yearbook is the story of the student body so you must involve the students in its making. Otherwise, it can be a waste of time since the students will have little to no affinity for its contents and, thus, will not be encouraged to purchase it.

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