Paperwork is shuffling. Keys are returning. Donations boxes and dumpsters are filling, and the building is emptying. It’s definitely closedown time, and while I’m excited for a little break in pace from the non-stop life of a Housing professional during the school year, I’m already apprehensive about 2.5 months of almost eerie quiet.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been preparing a multitude of transition reports and closedown reports, much like many other SA Pros do this time of year. It’s a great chance to reflect on the past year and even start imagining what some realistic goals and expectations are for next year. What momentum can be grown on? What didn’t work and why? How can we ensure we’re more successful next year? Being thorough on a transitions report is probably the biggest favor you can do for yourself (or whoever is in your position) for the following semester. Well, almost. I’m realizing that perhaps the biggest favor will be to keep my staff from burning out before we get to next year!
I consider myself lucky in that 75% of my RA staff is returning, along with most of my front desk. I’m stoked thinking about all the cool things that will give us the ability to do. Rather than relearning the building and what to expect from our population, we’re going to be able to hit the ground running, and the new staff members will have tons of support as they go through training and learn the position.
However, this is also a stressful time of the year, and with closing coming up tomorrow I’ve been concerned that an exhausted and stressed staff will leave with a bad taste in their mouth for their work in the building and with each other. The last thing I want is for this staff to come back in the fall, and the first thing they remember is the awful time they had during closedown.
To try and combat this, I’ve been doing a few things in an effort to prevent any major burnout in the finals days of the semester:
Keep them as informed as possible:
When setting up the procedures for completing resident checkouts, I realized that the easier I made it for the staff, the less likely they would become frustrated by the process. So a couple of weeks ago, each staff member received a 8 page, step-by-step guide, walking them from the final floor meeting to the time the doors are locked on Sunday. An informed staff is a happy staff!
It can be hard to take two finals in a day and complete a dozen resident checkouts, only to go to bed knowing that you have to do it all over again tomorrow. That’s part of the reason I created a poster of floor maps, that each RA is supposed to mark off as each room is cleared. It’s a quick, visual way for them to see how far we’ve come, and how we are steadily ticking toward the end. I’ve also been texting them percentage updates as we go. 28.4% as of this moment!
Recognize their dedication:
Closedown is a rough week for everyone, and it’s important to help the RAs recognize their work, both this week and all year. I’ve tried to provide treats and words of encouragement when I can this week. During our final staff meeting this past Sunday, I took the time to complete an activity to help the RAs recognize the impact they’ve had on the community and their fellow staff members, but also to reflect on the impact the year has had on them as individuals. They really enjoyed having a chance to see the impact they’ve had on residents, each other, and themselves.
Wrapping up the year is a lot of work, and I’m so proud of the work my staff has done so far this week, and over the course of my first year as a Residence Hall Director. We just have to keep it up for a few more days, then we can all take a second to breathe. And start planning for next year!
This post is part of the Emerging SA Pro series following 4 awesome people: Alexandria, Doug, Emily, and Alexander, as they blog monthly about 1 year of their journey as either a new SA Pro or SA grad student. We are proud to help them share their stories as they break into our field.
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