Whitney’s advice: It is so hot…

For the kids

Whitney Amos, “double-sticks!,” shares her suggestions for successful small groups at Orientation.

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

WA: Be energetic and enthusiastic! The morning meeting sets the tone for the rest of the day and plus most of them are very quiet and tired, so it is important to wake them up and get them ready for a long day. I always went through the schedule of the day, played a short ice breaker get to know you game, and told them about group pride and they were in the greatest group ever…DOUBLE STICKS!!! A lot of groups I made them tell me nicknames or tried to make them up and then call them that throughout the day and it was a big success.

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

WA: This was my favorite part of the day because you get to really talk to the students and answer questions. I always gave encouraging tips and pointers to them from an upperclassman viewpoint, and also told them to set goals and work hard to achieve them here at UGA. This is also a great time to have fun and play likes and dislikes of the day to get them to start talking. At the end of the meeting I always left about 5 minutes for the group cheer and took a picture before we went in for the OL performance. Remember this is the time to show your personality and the message you want to give to first year students.

ML: How did you encourage discussion in your meetings?

WA: In most of your groups you are going to have a few outgoing people and a lot of students who are either shy or scared. Reach out to all of them because you are normally their first interaction with any student on this campus. I always talked to my groups about likes and dislikes of Orientation, read them an inspirational quote, and answered any questions. If I got stuck or had a less talkative group you could always encourage conversation by asking them about worries or fears in coming to college because they all have those.

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

WA: Yes, I tried to switch it up one time and it did not work out for me. Stick to what you are comfortable with and as the summer goes on you can always make changes and get ideas from your other teammates on what works for them. At the night meeting I always played the Starburst game where they had a different question for the different color wrappers out of their bag. I stuck with this all summer, and it worked great for me; but don’t be afraid to change things up.

ML: Any tricks for remembering names?

WA: I am horrible with names, and, honestly, it is really hard with so many freshmen coming each session. The best advice is to try the nickname thing and to continually talk to kids in your group throughout the day and always take a quick glance down at their neck wallets. You can always try to repeat their names over and over, and that helps sometimes.

ML: What surprised you about leading small groups?

WA: I remember last year I was nervous about small groups, but they actually ended up being one of my favorite parts of Orientation. At first they may be a little stressful because you have to remember stuff on testing and get used to the schedule, but after a couple of sessions you will be a pro. Another tip would be to really not give up on the “too cool for school” kids and reach out to them, because when they would come back to my evening group they normally ended up being very talkative and great with the group cheer. Also don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself or be goofy because getting them laughing and allowing them to feel comfortable helps with your meetings.

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

WA: I honestly don’t think I would have changed the structure of my small groups. I stayed consistent and felt that I normally always had great conversations with the freshmen and tried to give them helpful advice. If one session you don’t feel like you had an outstanding group meeting then learn from any mistakes, and I promise you your next group could be completely different. One thing to remember is that your small group meetings will probably be completely different from your teammates which is fine, but stay true to what fits with you the best.

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