Thursday, April 7, 2011

Counselor flashbacks


It's been a busy week -- no surprise -- with some moments where I, as a second-year, felt a bit like a camp counselor. One of my involvements this year was as a Second Year Advisor for the Leadership Development Program (LDP), a year-long course for first-year students in which they explore values and commitments. It's a program that has faults and limitations and is not widely appreciated, so much so that it is being shelved next year. But I enjoyed it last year (which is why I wanted to be an SYA this year).

My favorite of the sessions last year was the one that the students plan. Our activity was a speed-dating type of event where we went around and talked about first impressions vs. current impressions of one another. It was both helpful and a good bonding experience. This year, the group for which I'm an SYA decided to go to a local indoor climbing facility and climb. I declined to participate because I figured this activity was for them, not me ... and I felt it would totally undermine my credibility as an advisor if they saw me struggling to do this activity. (I'm joking, sorta.) Anyway, they had a nice time. Not sure it was as valuable as my session last year, but c'est la vie.

I am also, this quarter, a Teaching Assistant for Innovator, a first-year course on innovation, as the name implied. Thursday's class included this activity, in which groups try to build a tall tower out of uncooked spaghetti, tape and string, that will support a marshmallow. The punchline is that young children are very good at this activity because they don't plan, they just start experimenting. This approach is sometimes best when one doesn't know whether an outcome is possible. MBAs, on the other hand, tend to be more methodical, and run out of time or build sub-standard towers. Our classes confirmed that this is true.

TA-ing is fun (and you make a bit of money); plus it's a good way to review material. Innovator is a particularly cool class. In general I've enjoyed my activities this year that have connected me to the class coming up behind us. They're a good group. They're also going to have an interesting experience at SOM because the new dean will be joining them next year.

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