Pre-Service Training: It Is All About Themes!
By: Naomi Letendre, Area Coordinator, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
themes can change your training from plain and boring to upbeat and
exciting. Listed below are a few themes that will definitely help you
motivate your staff to keep going throughout those long days and nights
ahead of RA training.
Fish theme, thanks to Disney and The Pike’s Place Fish
Market surely you can have a blast talking about teamwork, determination
and hanging in there through all the good and bad times. Use the book
Fish to have your staff talk about a new customer service approach,
through the four philosophies your staff will quickly pick up a better
attitude and the best in all around them. Fresh Ideas Start Here is
surely the motto you want your staff yelling in the halls; create
opportunities for them to FISH around for new ideas for your training
schedule and in-services.
African Safari! A safari can be wild, exciting and scary,
so can being an RA. Have your RA’s roaring into the new year
by creating an African Safari training they will never forget. Using
training topics such as “Taming the Lions,” could be surefire
ways to get your staff interested in hearing about all those policies
and procedures. Get camouflage shirts for the staff to wear during
opening day and tell them they are “Jeff Corwin,” from
animal plant for the day. They can also take the Jeff Corwin Experience
one step further for their freshman by being the leader of a campus
safari, “resource tour.” When discussing with your staff
about the importance of being role models etc. you can find some great
examples in Disney’s Lion King!
There is nothing like a good day of shopping, so why not make your
training into a full blown shopping experience. Help outfit your RA
by filling their shopping bags with all the supplies they will need
to be successful. Using stores from your local mall I am sure all
of you shopaholics can create a fantastic mall experience for your
staff! Oh and do not forget about coupons, give your staff coupon
books that need to be stamped after the different sessions and orientation
events. The staff member who has the most stamps wins something fun!
training is more fun than a barrel of monkeys! That is right
that old barrel of monkeys game can be used as a training tool and
here is how; not all the monkeys in the barrel are the same!
group of 4 a barrel of monkeys. Ask each group to take the barrel of
monkeys and follow directions on barrel (directions say dump monkeys
out of barrel and try to link them by the arms without having them unlink.)
The only change you should add to the barrel directions is that they
must do this activity as a team. After 15 minutes each team should have
linked all the monkeys. Come to a large group and discuss how each group
did this. After they have talked about the different ways in which they
accomplished the activity, talk about how each barrel is the same but
everyone took on the activity differently. Have the group think about
and discuss how at times we lump people into categories because they
look the same, even though they may be different. Have them think about
what characteristics make each one of the group members different and
then discuss these differences and what they add to the community. You
can follow up with talking about diversity issues, and/or leadership
There are so many different everyday things out there that can be turned
into training themes from, “We are definitely not in Kansas
anymore” to “Trading Spaces”, filling the tool
box with the necessary tools to get through opening. All it takes is
imagination and some creative thinking. Challenge your staff to get
involved, if you have any RA’s who are around and want to get
there hands a little dirty have them roll up their sleeves and get creative.
The more people involved the more invested they will all be!
as you turn that ordinary training into a week full of high energy and
Letendre is an Area Coordinator at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
At WPI, Naomi is responsible for assisting in the management of the
Residential Services program, with primary focus on student and staff
development and paraprofessional training. For the past year she has
been a member of the WPI Residence Life team. Prior to moving to Residence
Life she worked in Student Activities at WPI for two years.