Carrie Fusi’s advice on leading small groups

We will be adding posts to this site regularly in the next few days with advice from the 2006 OLs. Carrie Fusi was the leader of UGA Orientation Group #1 last year. Milly asked for her insights on how to make the most of the time you will have leading your groups this summer.

Fun One

ML: What tips do you have for a successful first meeting with your group?

CF: Be confident. Do not freak out if you do not remember every single little thing you are supposed to tell your group. You will have a sheet right in front of you if you forget something. Be excited. Most of the kids in your meeting are tired, scared, and probably could think of better things to do than be at Orientation, but if you’re excited, you can help them become excited!

ML: What tips do you have for a successful evening meeting with your group?

CF: Be real with your group. Try to give them your own, honest personal experiences. Do not try to sugar coat the answers that you tell your group, but be honest with them. Tell them stories from your own first year, or any useful advice you may want them to know. This is your chance to give them advice that you would have wanted someone to give you your first year. I also held my night meetings in a room either in the SLC, or outside. Switching up the location of the night meeting was fun for me because I liked a more laid-back atmosphere. Although it seems very insignificant, this made a big difference for me.

ML: How did you encourage discussion in your meetings?

CF: I tried many different things-some of which were successful, and some that were not. For example, this one time I thought it would be cool to hand out note cards in my morning meeting and have each of the freshmen anonymously write a question. Then, in my night meeting I intended to answer all the “great questions” that my group wrote on the note cards. Well, I did not get that many “great questions.” Therefore, that is a lame idea I do not recommend.

The thing that seemed to work well with me was mentally making a list with couple of broad topics I would want to touch on in the night meeting. I would have certain stories that I wanted to share, and maybe a few quotes I would want to read as well. Depending on the kids, these topics would invite discussion and help the kids think of questions to ask me. Sometimes this was not the case and I would just have to ramble. In these instances, I would want to cry and come to OL live sad with a frowny face.

ML: Did you use icebreakers, and, if so what did you use?

CF: I really hate icebreakers. I felt like I tried many things that the other team members said worked so well, and were AMAZING, but ended up being a disaster in my meetings. Sometimes in my morning meetings, I would make them answer the question, “If you could be anywhere, doing anything, with anyone, where would you be, and who would you be with?” A team member gave me this swell idea. This was fun, but was really the only “ice breaker” that I enjoyed using.

ML: Any tricks for remembering names?

I LOVED nicknames. I would go around in my morning meeting and give everyone a nickname. Then, when I would see them throughout the day, I would yell their nickname at them. Some of them thought it was fun, some hated it, but I LOVED it. While my kids were listening to the morning speakers in the SLC, I would look over my list of names, and write down the nicknames that I remembered. Also, if I remembered anything else about the kid (like what they were wearing, where they were from, etc), I would write that down too. This seemed to really work for me. If all else failed and I did not remember their name, I would just yell “FUN ONE” at them.

ML: What surprised you about leading small groups?

CF: It really surprised me at how quickly the time went by. I was really nervous at first of filling up all the time we are given in our meetings. You think you are just going to be in there forever trying to think of things to say and do, but honestly, time flies. You will find yourself having to make your group run to OL Live to try to make it there on time. It also surprised me how shy many of the students were. I guess I have just always been really talkative and did not mind speaking in groups (and I am sure all of you are this same way because you are an OL), but a majority of people are not this way. You must be aware of this, and try not to make anyone feel uncomfortable by calling them out in small group to answer a question. I am not saying it’s not okay to call on people, but try and feel out which kids would not mind you calling on them. Be sensitive to your group!

ML: What would you do differently in your group if you have to do it over again this summer?

CF: I would get better at making up group cheers. A lot better! I was awful, and everyone knew it. At least have an idea of what you want your cheer to be because many of the times it is like pulling teeth to make up your group cheer. In addition, this is challenging because you have all of five seconds to come up with a cheer. Many times, I forgot about group cheers until it was literally time to be in the theater for OL live. If public humiliation is not an issue for you, do not worry so much about group cheers. This was what I did. While cheers are fun for you and your OL teammates, they are not that important. If you are in the middle of a great discussion with your group and are getting lots of good questions, do not stop that to make up a silly cheer. Wing it!

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1 Comment

  1. I got this photo of Carrie from Facebook. Hope that’s ok, Carrie…? If not send me one you would prefer in its place. EJ


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