At the beginning of this semester, I was selected to be an Orientation Leader for this summer’s Freshman Orientation. There were 24 Orientation Leaders selected, and there are 6 Orientation Assistants who were Orientation Leaders last summer. The Orientation Assistants (OA’s) are responsible for making the 24 Orientation Leaders (OL’s) feel prepared and comfortable with the structure and goals of Freshman Orientation. Once a week, on Wednesday nights, we have Orientation training where we learn various leadership styles and skills that make up a great Orientation Leader. The team also spends time in training getting to know each other, and building on the skills that each individual has to offer. It is very important that the Orientation Team carries out the critical team beginnings steps this semester at training before we are fully immersed in Orientation this summer.
According to Tuckman and Jensen’s group development theory, which focuses on the development of internal relations among team members, the Orientation Team must go through various steps to create a high-performing team. First was the “Forming” stage, which was completed when the Dean of Students Office and the Orientation Assistants completed the application process and selected a team of 24 Orientation Leaders. The current stages that the 2011 Orientation Team is working on are the “Storming” and “Norming” stages.
At Orientation training, the team is setting goals, establishing norms, and socializing. The Orientation Team defines its purpose via the Orientation Mission Statement. We also set sub-goals for ourselves when we break off into our individual Orientation groups composed of one OL and about 20 freshmen. Right off the bat, the team established norms, or ground rules, for both training in the spring and Orientation in the summer. And finally, it is so important that the 30 OL’s and OA’s work on group socialization so that we can perform as a great team, and do amazing things for the newest Hokies this summer at Orientation.
As the semester continues, the Orientation Team will remain working in the Storming and Norming stages of Tuckman and Jensen’s model. However, when Freshman Orientation rolls around in July, it will be time for the team to shift into the “Performing” stage. We will need to use all that we have learned in training, and apply it to our Orientation groups so that the freshmen can have the best experience possible. Once Orientation is over, the final stage of the model will take place, “Adjourning.” This will compose of reflecting on things that were great about Freshman Orientation, and also things the team can improve on for future years. To be honest, I don’t even want to think about the Adjourning stage quite yet. I’m only getting started!