This post goes out to all the hired RA applicants and RA alternates for next year’s staff, who all know what I am talking about when I say that I had a uniquely overwhelming but exciting experience last Tuesday evening: it was my first session of the RA 1. Every Tuesday from 6-9pm, all the newly hired RAs gather in the New Center’s Conference Room to learn how to be good RAs from the New Center/Kirkland Hall Director. Unlike some of my general education classes, I can already see how much this RA class will benefit me in the near future, which makes giving up an evening of my week totally worth it.
However, I wasn’t really expecting just how much work will go into the class. I mean, of course we need to learn a ton in order to handle leading freshmen in res halls and enforcing res hall rules but there will be have quizzes the Policy Handbook as well as group projects including shadowing and interviewing a current RA. Attendance is crucial, and you must earn a B or higher to retain your residence assistant position. There will definitely be homework every week. In fact, we had homework even before the first class as we had to take a Color Code Personality Test and a Conflict-Management Style Survey.
When I took the Color Code Personality Test, I received the color Blue. According to the site, “Blues are motivated by intimacy. They seek to genuinely connect with others, and need to be understood and appreciated. Everything they do is quality-based. They are loyal friends, employers, and employees. Whatever or whomever they commit to is their sole (and soul) focus. They love to serve and give of themselves freely in order to nurture others’ lives.” It went on to say that “Blues have distinct preferences and have the most controlling personality. Their personal code of ethics is remarkably strong and they expect others to live honest, committed lives as well. They enjoy sharing meaningful moments in conversation as well as paying close attention to special life events (e.g. birthdays and anniversaries). Blues are dependable, thoughtful, and analytical, but can also be self-righteous, worry-prone, and moody. They are ‘sainted pit-bulls’ who never let go of something or someone once they are committed. When you deal with a BLUE, be sincere and make a genuine effort to understand and appreciate them.”
I thought this was a pretty-spot on evaluation of myself so I interested to see what would happen when I took the Conflict Management Style Survey.
The Conflict Management Style Survey shows your characteristic approach to managing conflict. I had to choose a single frame of reference (e.g. work-related conflicts, family conflicts, social conflicts) to keep in mind when responding to 12 common personal and professional situations. An example situation given was, “In responding to a request from another for help with a problem, you would” and then there were 5 different responses (labeled A through E) ranging from “Clearly instruct him or her how to proceed” all the way to “avoid the invitation at all costs”. Then I had to count the 5 types of responses I gave and number them so that any response can be answered from zero to ten points, as long as all five responses for a given situation to add up to a total of ten points. The scoring was kind of confusing, but after I followed the instructions on how to interpret all of my answers, I got a tie for a “collaborator” and “avoider” as my conflict-management style. It was a little bit confusing as the sheet informed me that the “Avoiding” style is unassertive and uncooperative, while the “Collaborating” style is both assertive and cooperative. So that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I guess I can take that as I am a mix between the two
After discussing our personality test colors and conflict management style survey results, we all did a bunch of team-building activities in just 20 minutes. The team-building activities ranged from figuring out riddles to trying to blow a bubble across the entire room. The activities were partly for fun as well as for interaction so that the class had an opportunity to work with new people, but I think it also represented what we may run into as RAs next year. Being thrown into a situation quickly with little to no instructions and just having to figure out the situation to the best and fullest of your ability seems like it comes with the territory of the RA position.
So, I learned that a lot goes into the class–perhaps a bit more than I expected– but I believe that it will be so worth it and it will help me prepare . I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I am looking forward to stepping outside my comfort zone as get prepared for what I am getting myself into next year as a Resident Assistant of Sheehan Hall.