If you’re baseball fan, it’s not too difficult get excited about Spring Training. This is especially true if you’re a Cubs fan – let’s be honest, it’s the most optimistic you’ll likely be all season.
It’s a time to assess, focus on fundamentals, establish goals, and mentally prepare for the long and demanding season ahead. For most student affairs professionals, our Spring Training is the summer – there are some exceptions (orientation, academic advising). But, for most of us, the absence of students on campus provides us a similar opportunity.
I think there is the perception that the lack of students on campus means our work comes to a halt. How many times have you been asked if you work during the summer? We know better. Yet, I do think that there is an opportunity for us to relax too much, enjoy the absence of pitter pattering feet and constant murmurings in our hallways too much – a few more YouTube links find a way into our inboxes and Facebook status updates tend to become more regular.
While certainly there is value in decompressing, I would challenge all of us to be intentional during this time. Much like Spring Training, the summer provides us the opportunity to assess, focus on our priorities, and set goals for the coming year.
Reflect. How did you do this year? How successful were your efforts? How effective was your opening? Training? Programming? Advising? How did you do achieving your learning outcomes? Take the time to evaluate your processes. Review assessment data. Identify changes in practices that need to be made and implement changes now. Taking the time to assess your efforts now, will allow more time to better implement these initiatives during the year.
Likely your position has one of the three following responsibilities (if not all): supervision, advising, and assessment. Take some time to focus on these fundamentals. Reflect on your experience as a supervisor. What did you do well and where can you improve? Read a book or article on supervision styles and identify best practices that resonate with you. Revisit group development, team dynamics, or participate in an Advisor Recognition Training session. Take a look at your assessment efforts. What types of assessment need changed, which questions need updating? Participate in an assessment webinar or read an article to better understand how assessment can provide value to your efforts.
For many of us, the Fall represents the start of a new year and thus the Summer provides an excellent opportunity to set goals. What are your professional goals? What conferences will you attend? What are your departmental goals? What goals were accomplished and what goals need to be established to better address your department’s educational priority? Establish action plans to meet these goals and identify benchmarks to measure progress. Often times during the academic year, there is little time to identify goals as we move from one process to another. By taking the time to assess and identify goals now, we have a better idea how to approach our efforts during the year.
Regardless of when your “downtime” occurs, whether it be summer or late fall, be intentional about how you utilize this time. Resist the urge to become idle. Taking the time to focus on your fundamentals will allow you to better perform when it’s your time to bat.
You can connect with Matt on Twitter @mbloomingdale.