Athens, OH 8 November 2013 – One of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had at Ohio University is the opportunity to be a Learning Community Leader (LCL) for a first-year student Learning Community. This Fall is my second rotation as an LCL; last Fall I worked with Dr. Masel from the ISE department as the LCL for a class of ISE, ETM, and undecided engineering majors and this Fall I’m working with Dr. Schwerha from the ISE department as the LCL for a class of ISE and undecided engineering majors. While my experiences have been largely similar in structure and responsibility load, there have been several significant differences between the two classes; I’m happy to say that this semester, in my opinion, has been much more successful in terms of the relationships I’ve been able to build with our students. I’ll touch on those successes, but first let me give a slight background of my responsibilities as an LCL.
Firstly, I highly recommend any first-year student to enroll in their respective majors’ Learning Community program. The LC Programs are designed to aid first-year students in their transition to university life and I have seen countless students who have benefited from these experiences. My role as an LCL is to work alongside the professor to plan and facilitate classroom discussions that include broad topics such as time management, study skills, team-building, academic advising, leadership, emotional intelligence, goal-setting, and many others. I also work with the students to set up outside-of-class activities that we can all do together that are not only fun for myself and the students, but that open their eyes to the many wonderful opportunities they can find at Ohio University.
As I said before, this is my second year as an LCL. In my first year, I worked with a great professor and learned a lot about myself and about being a leader, but I felt that there was a certain disconnect between me and the first-year students. I think what it boiled down to was that I got off to a slow start with this Learning Community: I had a hard time planning out-of-class events, I thought very little about what kind of relationship I wanted to build with the students, and I didn’t take my responsibility as seriously as I should have. By all accounts, the Learning Community went well, but I knew that I could strive to improve.
This year, Dr. Schwerha and I have been able to build a much greater sense of community within the Learning Community which does wonders for the students’ willingness to participate and become involved in university life. I got off to a much better start to the semester, planning numerous outside-of-class events early on and working to build strong relationships with the students. This semester I wanted to show my students that, yes, I am a senior and I have a professional role in this class, but also that I am still a young person and that each of them can come to me with any types of troubles they may be having and talk to me as an equal. I have enjoyed my time as an LCL immensely and I hope that every first-year student entering into their time at Ohio University can take advantage of that tremendous opportunity.