Leadership Light Bulbs

by Jenni Kraft

Learning leadership in my graduate program was so exciting and I was so thrilled to learn that I would get to work on a leadership program for our student leaders. While I have worked to create 2 campus leadership conferences (one each semester), I have not actually gotten to lead most of the sessions. Since I’m the coordinator, I’ve learned that for the program to run smoother, I am better charged with orchestrating the events. Don’t get me wrong, I am confident in the presenters and topics we put together for the conferences and I have seen the results in the students. However, I did miss the trill of presenting leadership and watching light bulbs go off in their minds. While I would love to do more programs during the long semesters, it’s unrealistic while working in a small school in a roll with many hats.

Well, in the fall I decided that I wanted to do my own programs during our January Term. My director thought it was a good idea, but suggested I communicated (get it approved?) it to our Vice President of Student Affairs. Knowing this, I put together a proposal including learning outcomes, theory base, and a “syllabus” outline and even rehearsed presenting it to my VP. While it was a little nerve-racking, I succeeded in presenting it and was approved to host the three leadership sessions. Even better, I was able to present this topic to one of our teacher graduate students who was happy to focus on this as a program as an intern! At the end of the fall semester I focused on putting these three sessions together with my graduate intern and what an exciting time it was. While he had experience in leadership and of course teaching, he was not familiar with most of the leadership theories I had learned in graduate school. So, I was happy to assist him in understanding some of the theories coming up with his own description of leadership.

From there we were excited to really start getting into the meat of the syllabus and plan out our 3 sessions. These conversations were such an incredible feeling and involved many light bulbs in both of our minds as we worked to design each lesson. We knew we wanted to apply Kolb’s Experiential Theory to get our topics and lessons across to our students which proved to be very effective in the end. Each session had a theme: the leader within, teamwork, and the process of leadership. My intern and I worked together to facilitate the group and breakout groups to guide them through experiences and reflecting on them to identify lessons and how to apply them in the future. It was really exciting to see them actually picking up the material that we worked to communicate to them. The feeling of connection and learning was so invigorating that I felt like I could rule the world after each session. Especially at the last session when the group discussions grew so in-depth that we ran out of time and the students insisted on staying an extra 30 minutes to finish the discussion… on a Friday afternoon! I can’t wait to do more programs! What a great way to end our short January Term and get pumped for the spring semester!

~Jenni with an “I”


Student Affairs - the First Years

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