If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get organized, then this post is for you!
Teachers are busy people and have a million things to remember. Remembering every student who has ever worked on a show for you is a difficult (if not impossible) task. Yet when it comes to recruiting students for your next production, it is invaluable to have that information available to check back on.
Creating and keeping an updated personnel file can help you stay organized. You can use it for keeping track of students’ volunteer hours, if they need you to sign off on volunteer work done, or if they’re applying to colleges or universities and want you to write them a recommendation letter. It can be used for volunteer retention–if you’re missing an important team member, you can simply look at your personnel file and reach out to students who have helped you out in the past. You can reach out to those people right away, since you know they’re experienced. A personnel file can also be used for volunteer recruitment–those students who have volunteered for you in the past might have friends or family members who are interested in helping out or learning more about theatre. The students can advocate for the experience, helping you gain some more recruits.
I recommend having two files for personnel recording. The three formats I tend to use for personnel files are: Excel, Access, and Google Sheets.
The first file is a general overview personnel file. This file lists the various backstage/technical/front of house roles (feel free to add/remove columns, depending on your program). Underneath, it lists the students’ names that are trained in those roles. This way, you can see exactly who you can tap if you need people for a particular role, or who you might be able to cross-train into another role. It’s also a good indicator of whether you need to train more people in a certain position. For example, you might have a ton of students who are trained lighting operators, but have a lack of students who are trained wireless microphone assistants.
Update this file frequently–be sure to add names as soon as a student has successfully completed the role (perhaps after closing night of a show), and note if/when the student is no longer available (graduated, changed schools, moved, etc.). Don’t delete the names–perhaps change the colour of the font or cell fill, move the name to the bottom of the list, or move the name to a separate alumni page. It’s important to keep past students’ names on the list in case they contact you after the fact!Click here to download a template and sample of a personnel overview.
The second personnel file is a more detailed file for each student. This file should include the student’s name, date added to your system, current grade, contact information, the show the student worked on, the date or season of the show, the role or position the student worked on, the total number of hours the student volunteered, and any additional notes (coaching, concerns, praise, etc.). This file could be either digital or hard copy and kept in a binder. Again, once the student moves on, you can move their file to an archival or alumni list. Don’t delete or throw out their file right away, in case they wish to access this information in the future.
Taking a few minutes to create and set up personnel files will help you immensely in the long run. They will help you stay organized, keep accurate records, help with recruitment and retention, and let you have one less thing bouncing around in your busy brain!Click here for a template and sample of a detailed personnel file.
Kerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer, and stage combatant from London, Ontario, Canada. View her blog at www.kerryhishon.com.