Tag Archives: residence

Christmas Spirit

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The Christmas party for residence students was coming up, and I figured I would have to bring my A game.

So Sunday night I thought, “Enough of the laziness! Why do I always buy store bought goods for student events! Baking! I must do some baking!” So I headed to the heartland of baking inspiration: Pinterest. (Where I learn all mediocre bakers either thrive or suffer .. you’ll see where I end up.) So I found a recipe for chocolate chip cookie dough truffles, a lovely recipe that is following the trend of putting chocolate covered ooey gooey deliciousness at the end of a stick. The recipe proclaimed, “It’s so easy! Best snack ever! Takes less time than tying your shoes!”

So here I go through the process:

Step 1: Make batter and roll into nice little balls.

Step 2: Realize I forgot to add salt, which would explain the explosion of sickly sweetness that happens in my mouth when I sneak a bit of the dough

Step 3: Coax the batter back into the mixer, add salt, repeat step one. Next, I stab each cookie dough ball with wooden skewer (great tension reliever!)

Step 4: Place the bakers chocolate in the microwave on high for two minutes as packaging suggests. Leave kitchen.

Step 5: Return to kitchen 2 minutes later to see a microwave emitting plumes of rancid smoke.

Step 6: Yell at unsuspecting fiance for help as I desperately try to open doors and windows, as not to suffocate, and die.

Step 7: Cry a little.

Step 8: Melt new chocolate with paranoid supervsion.

Step 9: Dip each freaking cookie dough ball in chocolate. Then try to clean up all the chocolate I spilled off the counters, floors, walls, face, hands, and neck.

Step 10: Marvel at the beautiful masterpiece I created.

Baking!

In the end the Christmas All-Rez was a huge success. We had a fantastic costume contest full of lumberjacks, video game characters, Mrs. Claus, and even an adult sized baby Jesus. We had a festive photo booth, hot chocolate bar, and snacks everywhere. Best part of the night? A compliment on my stress inducing, yet somehow stress relieving chocolate chip cookie dough truffles. 😀 Hooray!

What I thought I would have to do is plan the best event to make the students happy, in the end I realized that the students are hilarious, spontaneous, and fun loving all on their own. I can leave my stress at the door and just enjoy their company and laugh with them. And that’s what I did. What a great night it was!

To close, check out the amazing photo I ended up getting with some of my favourite people ever, my RA crew!

Ebc Christmas all-rez 032

Move In Day

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Confessions From a Residence Director on Move-In Day

How is it possible that the day has arrived? Move in day. When every parent feels anxious, every student feels both nauseous and invigorated and the Residence Director, Lord have mercy, is about to pee her pants.

Oh and I have been there. (Quick clarification, no, there hasn’t been any literal pants -wetting yet in my career). I absolutely love having students on campus, and feeling the energy that they bring, but it is the day I’ve been working toward all summer.. it can feel like jumping off a forty foot cliff into water below. You know it’s going to happen, but as you work up the courage to face the challenge you suddenly feel like screaming like a small child.

If you are an event planner, teacher, construction worker, florist … you name it … I am sure there is some aspect of your job that allows you to relate.

So I have assembled a list that in my experience, helps me in the crunch time:

  • Breathe and smile – both activities remind you to do what your body already wants you to. Just relax and little bit and remember to see the joy in what you are doing. Sometimes the stress can overshadow the fact that I absolutely love what I do. Smiling through it is key.
  • Communicate: With your team? Your boss? The students? Sure – but what I am actually referring to is communication with the dear ol’ parents. After an entire week of never answering a phone call due to your brain almost imploding, right during move in is right when they’d call to make sure you’re still alive.
  • Watch a hilarious viral youtube video the day before: Strange? Well, today I found that constantly quoting, “Ain’t nobody got time for that” over and over with my students was the best way to beat the stress. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Watch this with student leaders – the remix will get stuck in your head guaranteed. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udS-OcNtSWo
  • Don’t assign someone to live in a kitchen: Yup it happens to the best of us .. and by that I mean .. it happened to me last year. I have my excuses, but in the end a student was led to the kitchen by a helpful RA, and immediately escorted that student back to me. I’m sure later on he realized that living in the kitchen might have been great for all nighters, but he was okay that I assigned him somewhere else last minute instead.
  •  Surround yourself with awesome people: Amazing student leaders, student services staff, and fantastic students and parents made everything run really smoothly. What would I have done without them?

So that is my list of how to get through the epic work days.

What are the ways you cope through the “that day is TODAY?” kind of days?

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Community is a group of individuals who have learned how to communicate honestly with each other, whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure, and who have developed some significant commitment to ‘rejoice together, mourn together, and to delight in each other, and make other’s conditions their own’.

I absolutely love this quote by Scott Peck on community. What a great way to look at residence!

Community is a group of i…

Helicopter Parents

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When I first started getting into Student Services I was warned about them: Helicopter Parents.

And they are out there; calling Deans to make sure Johnny is wearing a sweater on cold days, insisting on sitting in on meetings with the Registrar, Financial Aid, and Residence Coordinators even into their child’s fourth year. Before I arrived, my staff recalled having to practically pull a parent out of a dorm room hours after the move in process was over. They just couldn’t leave.

Professors receive a good portion of the hovering as well: angry calls to professors about why Sarah got a dismal “B” on her assignment are frequent. Or parents are trying to fight why tests or exams can’t be made easier, moved, or changed to suit their child.

Hugh Kretschmer, TIME journalist, certainly creates a vivid picture of this phenomenon in his article “The Growing Backlash to Overparenting.”

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1940697-1,00.html

But there are other studies that have shown that students are crying out for parental advice, who need more supervision than they are given, and there are links to parent interaction and deep, positive learning outcomes of students. The National Survey or Student Engagement in 2007 noted that involved parents are often linked to student success.

So how should Student Services professionals respond? Should we push some of our fussiest parents (and I can admit to encountering more than my fair share) or do we bring them in and create partnerships with parents who potentially share our own concerns?

I believe Student Services is striking the balance between potentially two exhausting extremes.

Orientation programs designed just for parents help ease them in an often scary, and frightening transition of send their children away from home. We provide information and services that allow them to realize that their children are in good hands.

On the other hand, our confidentiality protocols restrict ability to give academic or personal information about students to parents. This actually encourages the parents and children to connect. If parents want to know what is going on with their children, they have to speak to their child, rather than going over the student’s head and contacting the school president, Dean, or professor.

And thanks to social media, students have reported to contacting their parents up to 11 to 14 times a day when they are in first year university. To some this is a troubling statistic that shows just another way that students are being taught to never develop true independence. The hope is that it strengthens the child/parent relationship, without putting strain on the Student Services’ phone lines and email inboxes.

What do you think of the “helicopter parent” phenomenon?Image

The New Boss

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Awaiting the incoming of a new boss can be a time of excitement, anxiety, and fitful preparation.

It’s like desperately trying to clean up your home, and when the guest arrives, asking them to take it over.

(And if Pinterest has taught me anything – its that I am not half the hostess I  thought I was.)

Right now the new boss I’m anticiapting will be the Dean of Student Services at my college.  As I prepare my new ‘house guest’ I can’t shake the feeling of nervousness.  Having strong leadership, and a fresh pair of eyes to look at our work is extremely important, but also difficult to navigate.

Fears of mine:

  • What if they try to change or dismiss a project I have been passionately working on?
  • What if their view of student interaction looks different than mine?
  • What if they have strange maniacal laughter that haunts me in my dreams!?

No matter my fears, I am extremely excited to have a strong sense of vision in the office. I have decided to put my fears to rest, pray that if they do have maniacal laughter, that I”ll be able to cherish it, rather than have it haunt my nightmares.

Afterall, without proper leadership, it can be easy for a department to feel like this:


No, I don’t mean that its easy to feel like an adorable running puppy. I mean that without strong leadership – it is easy to lose focus of where you are headed and what goals you are reaching for.

The new boss, the anticipated house guest, will provide exactly that. Leadership, focus, goals.
And in the meantime I will work on making sure the transition for the new guy/gal will go as smoothly as possible.

Do you have any tips on how to get over the ‘new boss’ anxiety?