3 ResLife Pro Quick Tips for Supporting New RAs and Student Staff in a New Year

Roompact’s “Quick Tips” series highlights ideas and suggestions you can put into your practice as either a professional staff or student staff member working in residence life and education. Click to read more from the series.

And like that, the summer is over. Students and student staff will be back in the residence halls within a blink of an eye, ready to take on the year. As student affairs professionals, we are here to support and equip our RAs and student staff with the skills and resources necessary to strengthen campus. The start of a new year can be an overwhelming time with challenges new and old brought to the surface. The following three tips will help you connect with your new staff and provide a solid foundation for the rest of the academic year.

1. Send an introductory survey to your RAs and student staff before the year begins.

Distributing a beginning of the year survey to your new student staff will get them excited and motivated about the year to come. This is a great opportunity to build rapport with your new staff and ask them about their supervisory preferences. Other options for the survey include asking about staff “favorites” (hobbies, music, candy, etc.) which can be used to create a Move-In Day playlist or as the core of a staff appreciation gift. 

Sample questions may include:

  • Do you prefer sweet or salty snacks?
  • If you were in a movie, what song would play when you walked into the room?
  • How do you like to receive feedback?
  • What does support look like to you?

2. Schedule regular 1:1s at the beginning of the year and keep them consistent throughout the semester.

Regular 1:1s provide a space for you to check in with your student staff about their well-being, address questions or concerns they may have with work-related projects, and discuss current events. As professional staff members, we aim to look at students and student education holistically, but we must remember to do this with our student staff as well. 1:1s provide a consistent way to meet with student staff, thus challenging and supporting their growth on an individualized level.

3. Early in the semester, have your student staff create SMART Goals for the year.

SMART Goals are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely. For more information on writing SMART Goals, visit this website

Having your student staff write SMART Goals at the beginning of the semester will allow you to track tangible growth over the course of the year. SMART Goals will also help you hold your student staff accountable for their own progress. After setting personal, academic, or work-related goals, professional staff can follow-up with student staff in 1:1s about their development.

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