First let me state, the WordPress app is not on my happy list today. As I sat at Panera this morning drinking my coffee, I wrote a nice long post that disappeared into the ether as soon as I hit publish. Really, it’s not even in my drafts anymore. Thinking about it, though, you – Dear Reader – are perhaps okay with this disappearance. While not a horrible post, I’m not sure how exciting it was. I didn’t even have any good dog pictures at the bottom to reward you for slogging through it all. Don’t get your hopes up, this post won’t be too exciting either, but I’m hoping it will at least be useful.
Choosing Visibility and Vulnerability as my words for this year wasn’t exactly a random choice. I have known since the middle of last semester that this year I would be participating in a Performance Leadership class this semester. The class meets every other Wednesday between now and June, and our first meeting was this week. This class is already pushing at me and my boundaries, and being really useful. Our first group project was part art/part confessional (in a good way).
Our first class activity was designed to get introduce us to each other. Generally, I am not one for these kind of ice-breaker/introductory activities, but I thought this one finally felt useful.
So great, in fact that I actually modified it for my beginning of the semester undergraduate writing center staff meeting.
The challenge for me (and the staff) this semester is making sure that the new people easily integrate into the center staff. Most of the time I do just hire 2-3 people at a time, but last semester was a little freakish. There was almost a complete turn-over in the staff. I had to hire 10 people. It was great because they bonded during their training class, but has the potential to be not-so-great for the new people this semester. To help ameliorate this process I decided to adapt this activity from the Performance Leadership class into our training. I did this new version again with them.
First they had to draw a badge like this:
One this badge they had to put: Three Values, Three Hobbies, and Three Strengths. The tricky part is that no words are allowed, only pictures. Once all the pictures have been drawn each person stands up in front of the group and tells the story of their badge. Here’s mine (Remember the DH is the artist in this family.):
Yes, it is terrible. I’m pretty sure my 2 1/2year old niece can draw better than I can. I don’t have it with me or I would show you my actual badge from the PL class. It’s even *better*. In addition to not being able to draw, I apparently have no sense of space and proportion either. But, here’s my story. My values are hospitality (the person at the door waving people in), justice/fairness, diversity/family (all the people are the same, not a good representation of diversity, but there were limited markers.) My hobbies include walking/playing with the dogs — yes, those are supposed to be dogs. Watching TV, which is represented by the gladiator in the red suit. Also, I think you can see the crocheting yarn & hook. My strengths, I think, are listening — you try to draw an ear. Being friendly … okay so normally I do smiles a little better, and the light bulb is to represent helping other people figure our their ideas.
The fun part of this activity is that a lot of people might list the same values/strengths, but they all represent them and talk about them differently. For each person we talked about how their values and strengths could work well for them in the writing center. I had fun and it felt like everyone else did as well. I suppose I will only figure out over the course of the semester how well it helped the new consultants fit in with the existing staff, but I think it was worth while after all.