|Operation: Student orientation|
With the summer sun shining bright in the sky, one thing is on the minds of many educational professionals: Student orientation is only eight weeks (or less) away! That means planning will soon begin and brainstorming will ensue to find the best additions to your already fantastic activities arsenal.
This year, consider expanding upon current foundational elements of your orientation day with a few of these creative and memorable ideas:
During orientation, many high schools, colleges and universities take student photos for their school I.D. This year, lighten up the process by allowing students to take one “silly” photo first, followed by their “real” photo. This will allow them to let out some nerves while also having fun during what is usually a long day. Then, send a digital copy of both photos in a welcome e-mail to their new school address for personal use. Once their I.D. is ready for pick up, slip it into an imprinted Neck Wallet/Badge Holder or a Zippered Pouch with Clip for easy carrying around school or campus.
Yes, it sounds like the phrase “speed dating” for a reason – the structure is almost identical! In an area with plenty of space for tables and chairs (your cafeteria or commons may be the best bet), set up a system where each student gets to meet another student, chat for five minutes, then move on to the next new classmate at the sound of a whistle. Try to work in at least 10 meetings per student to make the activity worthwhile. If parents are at your orientation, this would also be a great time to whisk them off to a faculty/administrator panel to ask questions or voice concerns.
Map it out
One of the most anxiety-provoking things for students entering new territory – whether it be junior high, high school or college – is finding out how to get to class in the quickest way possible and avoid being late (especially on the first day!). During orientation, help them by providing copies of the school or campus map, along with the fastest route(s) between commonly visited places. Then, encourage them to complete their first-day journey by offering a special giveaway at each main location. Adding popular Athletic Sport Wave Jugs and trendy Fine-knit Beanies with your school logo to this activity will give students a great leg up on a hectic first day of classes.
Hit the online social scene
With today’s youth often referred to as “Generation F” or “Generation Facebook,” tapping into online social networks could be the key to amping up student connections at this year’s orientation session. Try perusing information posted on social networks like MySpace and Facebook to match up students with similar interests before, during and after orientation. As an alternative, consider outfitting your school’s WiFi common area(s) with laptops so students can add their new friends and acquaintances to their social network right away!
“X” marks the spot
A scavenger hunt may be the perfect way to introduce students to school classrooms or resources. In addition to including actual places to find like their locker, the library or the bathrooms, also throw a few actions into the mix. Saying hi to five classmates (who must sign their sheet after engaging in conversation!) or shaking hands with the Principal will help students break out of their shells. Encourage participation by rewarding each student who completes the hunt with their school supply of choice: a Star-shaped Translucent Highlighter, a colourful Flexible Ruler or a Kool Klik Pen & Mechanical Pencil Set.
Crowd source questions and feedback
One of the best places to turn for presenter questions before orientation, or general feedback after the day is done, is students and parents themselves. If your orientation schedule includes a presenter, motivational speaker or the like, consider forming a Facebook group ahead of time where students can post their questions to be answered during the actual presentation. Do the same thing using a hash tag on micro-blogging platform Twitter. Use the medium that is best for reaching your audience, and repeat if desired afterward to get feedback for future orientation sessions.
Planning an orientation day at any education level can be a feat in itself. If you’re already thinking about it, you’re ahead of the game! Consider throwing a few of these ideas into the mix to make this year’s orientation even more memorable. Happy planning!