The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Training Season

By MaryLyn Silverstein
@MLsilver22

The word “training” is typically followed by a long groan for many housing staff members. One training week bleeds right into the next and it feels as if we are in sessions forever. Administrative productivity is at an all-time low and emails begin to pile up. Training season can be a challenging time for some, but for me I love learning alongside my peers and my students. It is a change of scenery from my office space that oftentimes becomes cluttered with paperwork. Actively participating in training sessions stimulates reflection and goal planning for me. It provides me an opportunity to take a step back from my double computer screens and my office.

At Kansas State University, we recently just wrapped up our training season. We spent two full days in January together as Senior Staff to reflect on the previous semester and to plan for the upcoming semester. One session that I felt was particularly beneficial was a presentation on how to build and support the best staff teams. The presentation was focused on the mentality that the best companies and organizations are the ones with the best staff teams. It also focused on the idea that a supervisor cannot just lean on the same staff member to meet deadlines or fix a situation. The presentation encouraged me to reflect on how I supervise my Resident Assistants and Community Assistants. It made me think about who I typically call on in the time of need and if that was the same person rather than leaning on my entire team.

Another presentation at Senior Staff training that I found very valuable was an activity facilitated by a fellow graduate student. Each level of employees (graduate students, entry-level professionals, and the Leadership Team) were divided into different rooms to participate with coworkers of their same professional level. The activity required participants to stand in a circle. Each person shared a moment of shame that they experience in the previous year with the entire group. The activity was an opportunity for us fifteen graduate students to stop and connect with one another instead of being cornered off in our own functional areas. The vulnerability shared in that space was incredible. After sharing a moment of shame, we each shared an experience of celebration. Following the difficult times with a positive moment was uplifting. It was an activity I plan on utilizing in my future when I feel as though a staff team needs to come together and show compassion for one another.  

Connecting with my fellow graduate students and pausing to learn how to better support my student staff were two positive experiences from Senior Staff training this winter. As soon as Senior Staff training ended, we moved directly into Student Staff training. Seeing my student staff return from winter break was an exciting experience. Each staff member had interesting stories to share from their time away from the building and they all appeared refreshed and ready to go.

For Student Staff training, I had the opportunity to present with a Resident Assistant and a representative from K-State’s Recreational Services on how to fit working out into a busy schedule. Exercising has always been a passion of mine so presenting to student staff on what I have found to be tips and tricks in this area was an incredible experience. The student staff who attended the two offered sessions asked many questions regarding how to eat healthy in the dining centers, what services are offered by the Rec, and what we personally do to stay motivated to exercise. For someone who has always feared presenting in front of groups, I found myself enjoying the presentation and feeling confident in my development in that area. The RA that I presented with was also a student staff member that I supervised in the previous year. Seeing her serve as a leader to her peers was a moment of pride for me. She was confident and knowledgeable in sharing her experiences.  

Though training can be a tiring time, it can also be the best time for reflection and learning if the right mindset is taken. The next time you are stepping into a training session, whether it be semester training or an in-service, take it as an opportunity to step away from your email inbox in order to grow.  

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