Essentially, there’s two main parts to the student small group portion of orientation: the campus tour and the class time. So the first thing that I usually do is give the campus tour because it’s the summer and I figure I’d get the tour over with in the morning instead of walking around campus at noon when it is super hot. The only exception to this is when I get assigned a room in the student union. I remember my freshman orientation and we had to walk around campus after my small group classroom and it was super hot, I was sweaty and a hot mess…so I was not about that life! It’s so much nicer and cooler in the morning.
I’m so used to giving a two hour tour from my job as a undergraduate admissions tour guide but for the orientation tours, it’s really condensed and shorter. My tour usually goes through the Breezeway then to Howard Phillips Hall, the Reflection Pod/Library/Millican Hall, then to Libra/Apollo/Ferrell Commons/Academic Village/Health Center, then to Technology Commons and then I end up in my classroom. At the end of the classroom session, I give them a tour of the Memory Mall/Arena/Pegasus Circle.
After the tour, I take the groups inside a classroom. Each orientation, I get assigned to a different classroom in various locations.The first thing I would do is called Wishes. It is a fun little activity that I like to do first thing to engage the attention of the students. It’s basically doing a series of hand gestures that starts out with rubbing the hands together to snapping to clapping and so forth. This results in sounding like the human rain! I learned this during DHRL training and I thought it was a cool experience so I made this a tradition with my students.
I then go over the schedule with my students as the two days can get confusing, especially with the black and gold rotations. Afterwards I take roll and check to see if anyone has changed majors and whatnot.
This next activity is Gaston’s Great Gambles. It’s basically rock, paper, scissor, shoe but with a twist. Each person would play their neighbor and whoever loses that round would become the winner’s cheerleader/entourage. The winner would play another winner and whoever loses would then cheer on the winner. And so forth until there’s two huge groups left. This is a prelude to the next ice breaker that I do and it’s a great chance for everyone to get to know the names of the other people in their group.
Rafiki’s Rambunctious Readings is basically everyone getting up one by one and introducing themselves….but with a twist. They have to pick out a card from a bag and in it a command that they have to do, whether it be to sing, to dance, to do an accent or to scream randomly. The first time I did this, I did not do the ice breaker warm up which was Gaston’s Great Gambles and it was a struggle getting everyone to really come out of their shell and have fun with their introductions. I tried Gaston’s Gambles on my second orientation group and after everyone got comfortable with everyone else, Rafiki’s Readings was much more lively and entertaining!
I then go on a more serious note and ask them differences between high school and college. This and the next segment is what I call “Life Lessons with Peter” because we talk about freedom, the social aspects and how to be responsible in college, classes and such. I also go over diversity and I show them a Mean Girls clip. I also touch up on roommate situations and any concerns regarding living on campus.
This is the part where I show my group After the Knighting, which is the exclusive website that I made just for them. I spent a couple of weeks putting together that page and it’s stuff that I wish my O-Teamer told me during my orientation. The website covers a lot of things that I felt is important and things I wish I knew coming into college. Topics range from how to stay healthy, academic advice, where to get free stuff/resources and college traditions. I am all about Disney and giving that Disney experience to my students so that is why I made ATK password protected.
This is one of my favorite parts of the small group session. I want to end the small group with a fun activity for everyone to get to know each other a little bit better and for them to really re-iterate what I just told them. I break them up into groups of three and then they pick out a card with a Disney plot or story to it that has to do with UCF (i.e. Nemo goes to a party, Beauty and the Beast gets involved at UCF, the Little Mermaid gets Healthy at UCF) and they have to make a one minute skit on it.
After they have had about five minutes to prepare or talk, then they present. Some groups just wing it, others come up with elaborate skits with props and it’s really entertaining! I don’t expect a huge production show or anything, but this is chance for everyone to just let loose and hopefully stop being nervous about college or orientation and meet other people.