Sunday 20 September 2015

Another year begins: induction week

Tomorrow we start our induction programme. We meet all of our first years. A colleague and I talked about it on Friday.
“It’s a slightly scary time. First impressions count,” he said. “What if we give them the wrong impression? What if it seems chaotic?”
I can remember my “Freshers’ Week” all those years ago. I was slightly overwhelmed – not so much by what I was about to face – that was all as I expected it to be - but by the complexity of the week’s programme. It did all work, of course.

Meet and Greet

We’re starting off with an introduction to all of the English staff. We were a little concerned last year that all the students did on the first day was “check in.” This isn’t registration – they do that on-line anyway. We felt they needed to meet some staff. We offered a drop in. The problem was they all came at once and we could hardly fit them in the room. We’d expected them to come with questions. Instead, they seemed to expect some sort to talk.
We used to offer a breakfast on the second day and introduce ourselves then. Instead we’re offering pastries and coffee on the first day. We’ll just say “Hi” and introduce ourselves a little bit.
They’ll also meet a representative from the Students’ union.

Programme session

I’ll be talking to them about the differences between studying at university and at school. I’ll be giving them the good news that some things that don’t seem like work actually are work.  This includes going to the theatre, watching the TV, reading a good book or people-watching.  I’ll emphasize the importance of keeping in touch. I’ll tell them that they MUST use their student email account. I’ll explain how they can contact us.
I’ll also introduce them to Blackboard, our Virtual Learning Environment. This is so important. I really have to get this right. I feel that it’s a key issue for continuation and retention.

Taster sessions

We offer these in Creative Writing, Drama, Language and Literature. As well as giving students a taste of what is to come it helps them to find their way around the buildings. This us particularly important in the building in which I teach a lot this year and in which I have my office; the Adelphi Building is notoriously difficult to navigate.

Personal Academic Tutors

As the younger students have come from an environment where the personal academic tutor plays a key role this also becomes an important role at university. We’re there to support them on all things academic. There are key points in the year when they may need extra support – just before assignments, when they’re making option choices for the following year and just after Christmas, for example. The Personal Academic Tutor plays a crucial role here.  I’d even go as far as saying that missing a meeting with a PAT is more of a crime than missing a regular class.       
We can also advise on personal, welfare and financial matters. We tend for these, however, to refer them to Student Life and Ask Us, which form our support system for students.        

Freshers’ Fiesta

This also takes place on our Adelphi campus on the Friday of Induction Week. It had quite a carnival atmosphere last year. There will be lots of creative industry stalls, and food and drink will be sold by local suppliers. The School’s music department will be supplying live music.   
I’m offering a drop-in session for returning second and third years and particularly encouraging to come along any one transferring into the second or third year from another university, anyone returning form exchange, anyone with an incomplete timetable and anyone having to repeat a year. All, however are welcome. And there will be some freebies!
Let’s hope we get this all important week right.                    

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