Through the First Floor Meeting
By Tasha Kates,
Resident Assistant, Ithaca College
is pounding. One glance at your watch reinforces your fear: what if no
one comes? Moments later, the entire floor streams in to the room and
quietly sits down. There is some chatter among your new residents, but
very little of it is aimed at you. You
to your first floor meeting
While the first floor meeting can appear intimidating to new RAs, it is not an impossible task. The meeting is, however, one of the most important moments that occur between residents and a RA, and warrants some preparation. A few simple steps (and maybe some snacks) are all that is required to make a floor meeting successful.
a productive floor meeting, residents need to be present. Posters placed
in the bathroom, hallway, or bulletin boards a couple of days in advance
of the meeting will ensure that each and every resident knows about the
event. Since it is likely that you will have spoken to most of your residents
prior to the meeting, let them know what the floor meeting is about and
personally encourage them to attend. If there are residents missing, as
the floor meeting is about to begin, it might be wise to ask where the
residents are or knock on their doors.
meetings are usually made mandatory by Residential Directors so students
understand the policies and are aware of what is expected of them as residents
of that particular residence hall. Advertising that the meeting is mandatory
on the posters is generally a wise move. However, this trick usually only
works on freshman a couple of times. Most upperclassmen know better, and
therefore you must give them extra encouragement to attend so that they
are aware of policy changes as well as other new vital information.
way to lure your floor to the meeting is food. The way to the minds of
residents is through their stomachs. Advertising that food will be at
the meeting might help attendance. However, you have to make good on your
promise and bring a snack.
my name is...
said that first impressions were everything was correct. New RAs need
to establish themselves for their residents. Unless you tell them, most
of the residents will not know your class year or when you entered the
position. A good, strong greeting will command attention and some respect
from your new residents.
give the residents a basic introduction, feel free to go into more depth.
Let your residents know what major you are, where you live, what your
hobbies are, and what your favorite movie is. The more information you
give to the residents, the more they will feel a sense of closeness to
you. This feeling is helpful, especially if they have a problem that they
need help with early in the year.
finish talking about yourself, go around the room and have each resident
talk about their hometown, major, favorite things, and one wacky fact
about themselves. Sometimes entire conversations can be spawned off one
crazy comment such as I had a bunch of sea monkeys when I came to
college, but they all died and I had a water burial ceremony for them
in the bathroom. Introductions are a pre-icebreaker icebreaker,
and can really help clear the initial tension that is bound to exist.
initial introductions are over, it is time to let the residents mix with
each other for a little while. Games that allow them to do so are called
icebreakers. Some are as simple as taking a handful of jellybeans and
telling the floor one fact about you for each bean. Others are more detailed,
and can involve a physical activity.
what kind of activity you choose you must have an icebreaker. While considered
a little cheesy by many, icebreakers can help residents learn more about
each other and begin to build a community.
If you cant
think of any icebreakers, a simple search on this site or on a search
engine will provide you with many choices. Before the meeting, check with
your Residence Director to make sure that the icebreaker is appropriate.
you break the ice
an agenda in advance of the meeting is recommended, as it is a very good
idea to give your residents an idea of what you are going to talk about
before you get into specifics. For instance say, Im going
to talk to you about the alcohol policy, where the vacuums are, and what
you would like to see happen on this floor this year. After that, I will
open the floor for any questions or concerns you may have.
this, you not only look more structured and sure of yourself, but you
will be able to speak more freely about each subject. An outline is particularly
helpful at the first floor meeting, since you will more than likely have
many subjects to cover.
If you have
already experienced a problem with some of the residents, you should never
single anyone out in a public forum. If problems have occurred on your
floor prior to the first floor meeting, it is okay to discuss the problem,
but totally inappropriate to discuss anyone who might be involved.
informational portion of the meeting is over, make sure that all the residents
get a chance to ask any questions that they might have or make suggestions.
This informal brainstorming session might prove to be helpful later in
the semester, especially as you lead the discussion about the types of
activities that your residents might be interested in having as floor
programs for the year.
residents will question you during the meeting, and this clarification
is a good thing. Do not mislead your residents when they question you,
about policy or your personal stand on issues or anything. Rather, be
forthcoming with your answers. Residents build a better bond with their
RA when he or she is forthcoming and honest.
may not know what a RA can and cannot do. They wont know where your
room is, or where you are most of the day. At the first floor meeting,
establish the fact that you are there for them to use as a resource. Let
them know where you live, and tell them that you are available to talk
to them. These words are often the most comforting to new and wary college
students. They will be glad that you told them that they are welcome to
come see you and ask you questions.
that boundaries must be set, and you need to explain boundaries to your
residents during the first floor meeting. Let your residents know that
it is not okay to knock on your door at 4 a.m. to ask where the vacuum
cleaner is. Inform your residents of the personal boundaries that you
are setting for them in relation to your serving them in the RA position.
meeting is over, stick around and try to talk to some of the residents
about their classes or their summer experiences. Residents will linger
whether you are there or not, and talking to them benefits everyone. Get
to know these people! You will be living with
floor meeting is not difficult with a little foresight. Just remember
to be organized, confident, and enjoy yourself!
About the Author
Tasha Kates is a freshman journalism major at Ithaca College. When she isn't slaving away in the name of journalism, she can be found listening to and performing music. To her, there is nothing better than relaxation after a hard day's work with tea and random interruptions from her residents. She has been an RA for one semester.