Monday, June 1, 2015

Dealing with Stress - A Finished Yearbook Helps

When I'm unsure about my topic for my weekly post, I turn to my family. My blog posts are usually reflections on school situations from the prior week and when I came to ask them, both my son and daughter immediately said, "Yearbook. You need to write something about making the yearbook."

I submitted the yearbook to the board printers on Friday May 29, and previously had spent all my May weekends and all my weekday evenings during that final week working incessantly on the publication. To paraphrase Ashley Spires' great book, The Most Magnificent Thing, I planned, I pondered, and panicked. I counted, composed, and collected. I crafted lists, created deadlines, and corralled photographers for last-minute pictures. I was seriously stressed out! My school yearbook (48 pages, full-colour, representative of the whole student body) is created mostly by me and by my loyal-beyond-all-measure former student, Andrew, who is now attending university at McGill in Montreal. He and I used Twitter and Dropbox to share Photoshop files and communicate about what needed to be done.

"Why not reduce your stress by sharing the workload?", you may ask. "Why not involve the kids more in the process?"
 In the past, we used to have students design some of the yearbook pages, but my students are so involved in so many activities that I found it more stressful to have them involved. They didn't seem to understand the larger ramifications of missing deadlines and why they couldn't just ask for an extension. As it was, I had a small team of student artists design the cover and the Photography Club handle the Spirit Days and Clubs/Teams photos for this year's yearbook. It was only due to some terrible nagging and urgent pleading that I was able to have enough photographs to use. I was particularly incensed when I learned that one student photographer had taken the Ball Hockey Tournament team photos months in advanced, but never sent them or informed me that they were completed earlier. Communicating with me this rather important fact would have made me less worried.

A sneak peek at the front cover, minus titles.

How did I deal with the yearbook stress? Two things: Andrew and lists. Andrew was absolutely incredible. When I wrote to him expressing doubt that we'd make the May 29 deadline, he reassured me that it was possible. He was right. I'd create what I thought was a good page, and he'd edit it and make it a hundred times better. Despite being in a different city and province, AND despite taking a compressed, university-level linear algebra course at the same time, Andrew worked just as hard, if not harder, than I did creating this visual masterpiece. He gave me advice. He taught me how to do things, and retaught them when the lesson didn't stick. He transformed all the files from Photoshop to PDF. All the teachers at school that know Andrew ask me what I'll do when he decides to move on and not help with yearbook. After all, they warned me last year that his graduation from high school was the end of his assistance, yet this year, he was still available for consultation and template creation. Thanks to him, I wasn't alone. Creating lists also helped me cope with what-felt-like-overwhelming duties. Knowing what had to be done and checking them off as I completed each page or club felt so rewarding.
Now that the yearbook is finished, I feel an immense sense of relief and accomplishment. Even though I still have to do final marks for report cards, a Minecraft presentation for the Atlantic Provincial Library Association conference, a press release and certificates for the Red Maple Marketing Campaign, and the Volunteer Tea invitations and book plates, it doesn't seem as impossible now that the yearbook is done and out of the way.

I realize that I'm not the only one facing stress as a result of looming deadlines. My Grade 9 daughter has four exams, three ISUs, and two major projects to submit between now and the end of school. When I asked her how she deals with her stress, she stated that she tries to build in break times. She will work for 45 minutes on school assignments and then take 15 minutes to create some distance, either by checking her Deviant Art account or doing something completely different. Here's hoping that everyone has strategies or outlets for dealing with the stressful last days of school.

No comments:

Post a Comment