This week, my colleagues and I took our 20 residence life staff members (Residence Assistants and Senior Residence Assistants) on a Winter retreat. This was a great opportunity for all the staff to spend time together for the first time since summer training, and reconnect as a team. In addition to engaging the group, this opportunity also allowed the staff, as individuals, to challenges their own abilities, through learning how to cross-country ski, snowshoe, as well as participate in low and high-ropes courses.
In previous years, this retreat served as a training session, with very little programming. Though the benefits of training mid-year are no doubt evident, we chose a different approach this year by using the session more for team-building purposes, with only one official training session (behind closed doors) in order to review our expectations for certain situations.
The reasoning behind this change was that we could use our weekly staff meetings as an opportunity to engage in mini-training sessions, in order to provide on-going training, and to fulfill identified need in a timely manner. By using this approach, we have been able to redefine expectations for incident reporting, review concerns regarding addressing a student at risk of self-harm, as well as practice clear and concise communication with students, all within a week of identifying a need or concern.
I'm looking forward to seeing how this method will continue to benefit the staff in the coming months, and whether the added team-building will ensure a renewed bond between these individuals.