Posted January 30, 2013 by Gavin Telfer 

Second Semester: A Time for Continued Momentum

Many of us who advise student organizations have had an experience similar to this: The organization(s) we advise starts off the new school year in fantastic fashion. The returning members come back motivated and ready to help recruit quality new members. The group shares tons of fresh, creative ideas and starts working on some exciting projects. The first semester is an unqualified success, and the group can’t wait to continue on in January.

Then semester break hits. Much of the group spends extended time away from one another. This can make it difficult for an organization to just pick up where it left off in the previous semester. Groups that are prepared for this lull can still be successful, but the time off can sometimes derail an organization’s progress as well. Here are a few ideas on how to avoid letting the break take away group momentum.

Schedule a re-group time before students leave for break. This sounds like such a simple task, but it is also a critical one. Talk with your student organization well in advance to decide on a time early in the next semester when you can all reconnect. By the time students return, you may find it incredibly difficult to find a mutually agreeable time.

Discuss the group’s accomplishments to date. It’s easy to come back from a long break and forget all that was achieved in the previous semester. One remedy for this can be a quick re-group to talk about the previous semester’s progress. This can serve as a jumping-off point for where the organization wants to proceed as well. Often the simple exercise of having the group reflect on its good work can help regain some of the momentum lost during the time away.

Don’t forget about team bonding! Many of us put a lot of stock in icebreakers, team builders, and other activities to get the group off on the right track to start the year. This can be an easy sell, as often group members don’t all know each other, and members see the value in making connections. Though the organization’s members are usually well-acquainted by second semester, the need for team bonding still exists. Group activities will get the group back on track and working as a team. Whatever you do, don’t settle for “these people already know each other, so we don’t need to do any of those activities.”

How do you help your organization continue momentum after breaks? What struggles have you experienced with keeping group momentum?

Gavin Telfer

Gavin Telfer is the Associate Director of Student Involvement at Southern New Hampshire University.

Gavin grew up in Wisconsin, but has been at Southern New Hampshire University since 2008. In his current role, Gavin advises the Student Government Association as well as the Senior Events Committee. In addition, he supervises multiple student employment areas and operations within the Robert A. Freese Student Center. Gavin also coordinates aspects of orientation and assists with student leadership development efforts.

Comments

I have found that break periods, or the beginning of a new semester, are a great time to begin or end officer transition (depending on when elections may take place). If everyone is local enough (or can get back to campus a day or two early), this provides a time to discuss goals during the transition period, work with the officer group more directly, and as an advisor I get to know them a little bit better too.
Jeff Pelletier
pelletier.12@osu.edu
Comment posted 01/30/2013 9:41 AM
Thanks for the insight, Jeff! Gret point about the opportunity associated with breaks as well. I advise our SGA, and we have scheduled spring elections just before Spring Break for the past couple of years. It works well, as the new officers finish the last couple of months by building momentum and planning for the coming year.
Gavin Telfer
g.telfer@snhu.edu
Comment posted 01/31/2013 10:10 AM
Great ideas Gavin!
Sarah-Ann Harnick
sharnick@njcu.edu
Comment posted 01/31/2013 10:12 AM
Thank you for the suggestion of reviewing past accomplishments! We just started our semester today and I am back from maternity leave. I am struggling with being out of the loop with our Commuter Advisory Board (CAB) on everything from new meeting times and location to which events have been confirmed or canceled. It's hard when I was the driving force behind getting people together and staying on task. Now that momentum has shifted and it feels like starting from scratch.
Jeannette Smith
smithjean@elmhurst.edu
Comment posted 02/04/2013 2:51 PM
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