Harry Potter Used as a Student Leader Training Tool

This summer, I was in-charge of the Valencia College Summer Student Leadership Training Program. Needless to say, I was excited because I had never had the opportunity to "create something from scratch,” and naturally, this provided a perfect opportunity for me to grow as a student affairs professional.

Give me a theme and I can run with it.

I think a theme gives you a centralized parameter to start with and then, you can really use your own resources and creativity to design what you want your theme to include. So, empowered to think of a theme, I chose Harry Potter. I have recently become a Harry Potter fan and I thought this would be the perfect vehicle for which to discuss what it means to be a student leader.

In our Valencia College Student Development Office, we have three groups of student leaders. First, there are our main front desk greeters and customer service reps who are known as the Valencia College Welcome Team. The Valencia College Welcome Team prepares student/faculty/staff ID’s and leads campus tours for prospective students. Second, there are the Valencia College Volunteers Student Coordinators who coordinate volunteering events both on and off-campus as well as perform administrative tasks required to keep the program running. Third, there is the Valencia College Student Wellness Ambassador Team who plan and promote health and wellness programs on our campus.

When planning for training for all four student groups, I found it especially difficult to meet all their requirements and needs at once. Thus, I split their training into four sessions – each one designed to cover the specific needs required for each of the four groups of student leaders. Breaking the leadership training into individual sessions underlines how important team-building is in developing strong and compassionate leaders

For each student leader group, there are four components required for leadership training. The four components involved in student leadership training are; 1) Becoming a Professional, 2) Learning to Plan Campus-Wide Events, 3) Knowing Your College Administrators, and 4) Improving Your Communication Skills. All these workshops are essential to becoming a strong student leader on our campus and of course, developing a sense of community among our student leaders.

As of today, we have already have had a number of leadership training sessions and each one has been inspired by themes found in Harry Potter.  For example, we have held student leadership training sessions entitled Hermione’s Efficient Guide to Event Planning and Fred and Zonko’s Joe Shop for Improving Communication Skills. Harry Potter, as you might guess, has proven just ‘the hook’ to motivate our emerging student leaders to become actively involved in developing their own leadership skills. They enjoy discussing the themes revealed in the Harry Potter series to illuminate their own understandings of what it means to be an effective and productive student leader. I look forward to planning many more similarly theme-based leadership training sessions.