I currently advise three programming boards with three very different executive chairs. For as long as I have been the adviser of these student organizations, I have weekly one on one meetings with the presidents. In the past our meetings were an hour long. We started to realize that the business aspect of the meeting was maybe 20 minutes and the rest of the meeting we spent discussing their personal lives. I always had a great relationship with the executive chairs and provided them with guidance and support. I enjoyed our hour long meetings and how it provided us the opportunity to build a relationship. However, I became aware that hour long meetings were taking time away from both theirs and my busy schedules.
This year, I suggested we meet weekly for 30 minutes each week.
For the most part, 30 minutes is exactly enough time to cover the business and still allow a few moments to check in with them. They appreciated the extra time the shorter meeting afforded them throughout the day. This semester I wanted to something a little different. During our last two one on one meetings of the semester our one on ones would be structured a bit differently than previous meetings.
During our second to last meeting, I asked them to select something to do that would allow me to get to know them outside of the student organization. I challenged them to show me another side of them. Our meeting would still occur during our regularly scheduled time and last 30 minutes. At our last meeting of the semester, we would have our evaluation meeting (something I do every semester with each executive chair). Together we evaluate their leadership, the student organization and myself.
At first they were a little caught off by the structure of by the new meeting format.
They struggled a bit with what to do during that time. However, when it was time for the meeting they were all excited. During one of our meetings, we went to the campus convenience store and purchased a snack. She showed me her Spotify, Tumblr page and Pandora. Another student shared his love for comedy. We watched Youtube video and discussed comedians we found funny. The other executive chair gave me a tour of one of the academic buildings. It was not the school her major was affiliated with, but she spent a lot of time in that building. She showed me her secret spots for extra quiet study time.
During all three one on one meetings the students opened up about themselves and were grateful for the opportunity to share more about themselves with me. They enjoyed 30 minutes of just chatting about themselves and not having to stress about the pressure of their student organizations. All three student organizations had a great deal going on between events and elections. In addition, they were feeling overwhelmed with their academics due to the end of the semester. They shared that even though this was a stressful time, they appreciated that I showed interest in getting to know them better and being supportive.
During the following week at our evaluation meeting they all gave me great feedback about my advising style.
They all stated they I was a mentor. I supported them and guided them with their student organization but I also cared about them. They believed it was evident that I would always be there for them. It was heartwarming. All three students are unique and I am honored to program alongside them. Our last two one on one meetings were rewarding for me as well. It was gratifying connecting with a student about their interests and not just the stress of events or end of semester struggles. It was great to see a different side of them. I know that these two meetings will only allow for us to build on our relationship.
My advice to anyone who has weekly one on one meetings with students or professional staff is to mix it up sometimes. It’s okay to break away from strictly business to take a walk or learn about their hobbies. It will be a great refresher and allow for the relationship to become stronger.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Sue Caulfield on “Suedles”, Creativity, & Learning Styles