I have developed an activity for resident assistants that can be used during annual training or as a session for staff development throughout the academic year. A university requested that I give a presentation on “What role does on campus housing have in the overall collegiate experience and student success?” Rather than doing the typical PowerPoint presentation and frequently cite research from Pascarella and Terenzini’s How College Affects Students, I thought I’d create a more active and creative experience. Click here to get a free PDF activity sheet that you can print and use with your own staff.
Not only do the student participants get to understand important outcomes associated with living on campus, but they get to reflect on their own personal residence life experience, and actually get to walk away with a personally-significant souvenir. Participants are given a pack of beads and a plastic bracelet strand with a knot tied in the end. You can obtain bags of these beads at a craft store, such as Michaels and Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. The activity leader reads each outcome and the participants put that bead on their bracelet strand if it pertains to them. If not, they simply leave the bead in their pack. Everyone’s experience is different, so it’s perfectly fine if they have different looking strands of beads!
Outcomes include the following:
- Orange = Held a leadership position in the halls
- Yellow = Participate in at least one extracurricular activity on campus
- Red = Resolved a conflict or argument with a roommates
- Lavender = Have a friend or have a hall mate who is GLBTQ
- Dark Blue = Participated in an living-learning community activity or program
- Pink = Feel you have made good decisions for yourself
- White =You are satisfied with being at your university
- Light Blue = Have met your significant other
- Cream = You have decided to go to graduate school
- Black = You feel that you are an independent person
- Clear Light Blue = You have decided on a profession
- Clear Dark Blue = You have a friend or hall mate who is of another culture or nation
- Clear Yellow = You enjoy your college experience
- Clear Red = Your political views have changed since high school
- Clear Pink = Your religious views have changed since high school
- Clear Green = You feel confident about your academic abilities
- Clear Orange = You feel self-confident about yourself
- Clear = You feel like you have personally grown while living in the halls
- Green = You have made close friends
- Animal (or other special bead different from the others) = You will be graduating this year
The following questions can be used to engage discussion related to the outcomes:
- Which of these outcomes stood out the most for you personally?
- How have you felt you contributed to one of these outcomes for a resident you oversee?
- What can the residence life program do to foster more of these outcomes for residents?
- How has this activity motivated you to any new action or attitude?
Additionally, the participants can continue to customize their bead strands into a bracelet or keychain with supplies you provide. This can include lettered beads into which they can incorporate their names. This is a great way for your staff to learn about the important role of living on campus while also giving them time to bond, share their own experiences with each other, and be creative.
Click HERE to receive a free PDF copy of the activity sheet that you can use and share.
Please comment below if you use this activity and let us know how it went!
On May 25, 2011, I presented a session at the PASSHE (PA State System of Higher Education) Student Affairs Conference in Cheyney, PA titled “Using Social Media for Professional Development & Networking Opportunities.” During the session I illustrated the benefits and virtues of using Twitter for professional development. One of the key points of the session was the use of the Twitter “hashtag” (#) to help expedite keyword searches for student affairs-related Tweets.A Twitter hashtag is a means by which someone can easily tag a keyword or topic for others to find. There are a multitude of hashtags in the Student Affairs Twittersphere, and I created a directory that I hope you will find helpful. Please understand that this directory is not exhaustive, but lists the most used hashtags by Student Affairs Tweeters / Tweeple.
Here is a FREE Student Affairs Twitter Hashtags handout. Please feel free to share this with your colleagues and students.
A special thanks goes out to Christine Scholl for designing the handout.
The members of your organization are your lifeblood. Always remember that your organization’s success is solely dependent upon its members and their regular participation. Many organizations’ senior leaders can concentrate on executive board business and easily forget their members. Remember to put your members’ interests first and put time and strategic thought into developing your relationship with them while they are members of your organization.
- Find out why your members are involved in the organization. People join clubs and organizations for many varied reasons whether it’s for skills development, gaining new knowledge and experience, or purely for recreational and social reasons. Knowing specifically why each member is involved will help you determine what you need to do or what activities to develop and provide in order to keep them interested and participating regularly. Simply put, meet their needs.
- Regularly check in with your members. I once learned that people don’t care about you until you show how much you care about them. This rings very true regarding your organization’s members. If they feel personally disconnected at meetings and activities, there’s a good chance that they are going to stop participating.
- Give members a reason to stay active and involved. People’s time is important so treat your members almost like they are customers; treat new members like they are prospective customers. If you’re not meeting their needs or the organization activities are perceived as not fun or simply a waste of their time, they will stop participating.
- Praise members publicly and thank them often. Make time during meetings to praise members for their participation and the good work that they do for your organization. Make a habit of thanking members often. Simple gestures such as giving hand-written notes, public posts on social networking sites, and other small tokens of appreciation will be accepted by your members with great welcome.
Click for a free Member Development Assessment activity. Please feel free to share it.
As we near the beginning of the fall semester, student leaders and student affairs professionals alike will be planning activities and programs for the year. There are varied thoughts on what characteristics make for a “good” activity or program so we’d like to suggest our own philosophy on program development.
- Create activities and programs that you yourself would like to see and attend. Many times student leaders such as resident assistants plan activities because it’s simply a requirement. Look beyond the requirement and develop activities and programs that you wish would have been available for you to attend before you became the program leader. Everyone’s time is valuable so make it count.
- Take full advantage of free resources on campus and / or within the community. Make connections with various department administrators on campus and see what expertise, advice, and resources they can offer. Such areas you should take advantage of include the following: the counseling center, diversity office, health & wellness, public safety / police, career development, women’s center, recreation / intramurals, etc.
- Do a simple assessment (survey) to see what types of interests people have and develop activities around those interests. Creating small and simple surveys through Facebook, SurveyMonkey, PollDaddy, and TwtPoll are free and relatively easy ways to find out about people’s interests.
- If at all possible, keep it simple. When it comes to activity and program development, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Small and simple ideas can make for great programs!
- Partner with other groups and organizations to share the workload and budget requirements. Find other leaders that will support your ideas and help with the implementation and marketing of the program. If you involve more people, there’s a good chance that they will in turn invite people to participate in the activity.
- Look for community volunteering initiatives that you can turn into a programming opportunity. There are numerous community organizations that are looking for volunteers and more than willing to work hand-in-hand with you. Habitat for Humanity, Red Cross, the Y, youth & civic organizations, and local schools (K-12) can offer many activity and program opportunities for your organization or staff.
- Use the local price of a movie ticket as your guide for “per person” cost in terms of program budget effectiveness. The gauge of cost effectiveness I use with my staff is roughly $8.50 per participant per program. Was this program roughly worth the cost of a movie ticket? So if a staffer spends $85.00 and 10 people participate, in my estimation, this was a successful program budget-wise because it ended up to be $8.50 per person. But if a staffer spends $250 on a community-wide program and only 10 people show up, this ends up being $25.00 per person! Granted, those 10 people may have a great time, but from a budgeting standpoint, was this a good return on the investment?
- Offer opportunities for participants to put something on a resume or within a portfolio. People will participate if they can see a benefit coming from the program and “get” something out of it (and it doesn’t have to be pizza or some sort of prize!) Workshops, skills training, and volunteering opportunities (see #6) offer people the ability to list this as an accomplishment they can show to potential employers in the future.
- Partner with other team members to plan and execute the activity. You don’t have to go it alone. The old saying “Two heads are better than one” holds true with activity planning. More individuals developing the program can offer different insights and bring something unique to the experience that may not be there if you do it alone.
- Have fun! This is the best part of activity and program planning and implementation. Fun is contagious. If you can demonstrate a track record of fun, others will naturally want to be involved.
Click for a free handout listing of 650+ activity and programming ideas. Please feel free to share it.
Inspiring team member confidence should be an important part of a “Leadership Evaluation.” Team members need to have confidence in one another, be able to discuss easily ideas with one another without hesitation, and foster a sense of confidence among all of the members of the team.
As the team leader, creating “purposeful” conversations centered on team issues are symbolic in that you are setting the stage for what is an appropriate way to express thoughts and ideas in an open and respectful manner. If you create a team culture in which teammates solve problems together without unnecessary conflict or without always having to have the team leader intercede, everyone can concentrate on the actual mission and vision of the organization.
Here are some recommendations on how to create a team culture of confidence and communication:
1. Recruit team members that already embody the ideals of your organization’s culture.
2. Purposefully match team members on projects so they can experience “wins” together for good progress.
3. Hold regular team-building exercises during team meetings in order to demonstrate important team lessons. (Don’t simply have ice-breakers or other exercises just for the sake of having an activity; have a real purpose behind it.)
4. Be a role model for your team. Always be positive (but not fake), and speak well of your team everywhere you go.
5. Make it fun! It’s not all about work. Take your team on a fun outing in order to spend social time with one another.
Click for a free Colleague Discussion Activity sheet. Please feel free to share it.
How are you inspiring confidence among your team members?