A little disclaimer to get started: when it comes to “having the skill” to develop training for your student representatives, we see the same issue as with coaching: the competences you need, are mostly gained by following (paid) courses. If you struggle with these skills, it might be a good idea to check local or online educational initiatives.
In this first part of module 7 you’ll get insights in the importance of training and some first basic steps into building a successful training for your student representatives. In 7.2 we will discuss potential content for training.
Why is training for student reps important?
Training for student representatives is essential for a myriad of reasons. Student representatives play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between the student body and the school or university’s administration. They are meant to voice student concerns, provide feedback on policy decisions, and participate in governance structures. Proper training ensures that these reps can fulfil these roles competently. Here are the reasons for its importance:
- Proper training equips student representatives with the skills to represent their peers effectively, making sure their concerns are heard and addressed.
- Training provides clarity on what is expected of the representatives, ensuring they are neither overwhelmed nor underperforming.
- Training can offer a broad range of skills, from negotiation and communication to leadership and organizational skills. These are not only vital for their roles but also beneficial for their personal and professional lives.
- A well-trained student rep can build a positive, constructive relationship between students and administration. They can mediate in conflicts and ensure that both sides understand each other’s perspectives.
- Student reps often participate in committees or boards where decisions about the institution’s future are made. Training ensures they understand these governance structures and can participate meaningfully.
- In some cases, student reps might need to have a basic understanding of the legal and ethical considerations related to their roles, particularly concerning issues like data protection, student welfare, or disciplinary matters.
- Knowing how to handle the challenges of their role can boost a student representative’s confidence, enabling them to be more proactive and assertive in their duties.
(source: university of Sussex)
How to Build Student Rep Training: 10 steps (with some examples of what could be potential topics)
- Define the role and objectives of the training
- What are the key responsibilities of a student representative?
- What skills and knowledge do they need to be successful?
- Identify key competencies
- Communication: active listening, public speaking, feedback mechanisms.
- Leadership: Motivation, delegation, decision-making.
- Negotiation and Advocacy: Representing student interests, conflict resolution.
- Organizational Knowledge: Understand the structure of the institution, key contacts, and processes.
- Teamwork: Collaborating with fellow representatives, participating in committees.
- Develop content or training modules
- Orientation Session
- Skill Workshops: Interactive sessions focusing on communication, leadership, negotiation, etc.
- Institutional Briefing: Overview of the institution’s structure, processes, and key contacts.
- Feedback and Reflection: Opportunities to review and reflect on their experiences.
- Use Varied Training Methods
- Presentations and Lectures: For theoretical knowledge.
- Group Discussions: To encourage peer learning and sharing.
- Role-playing: For practicing real-life scenarios.
- Guest Speakers: Invite experienced student reps or relevant faculty members.
- Case Studies: Discuss previous challenges faced by student reps and potential solutions.
- Incorporate Essential Resources
- Training Manuals: Comprehensive guide with all essential information.
- Online Portal: A platform with resources, updates, contact directories, and schedules.
- Feedback Forms: For reps to give feedback on training and suggest improvements.
- Ongoing Support and Mentorship
- Pair new reps with experienced ones for guidance.
- Hold regular check-ins or debrief sessions.
- Offer refresher training or advanced modules based on emerging needs.
- Evaluation and Continuous Improvement
- Feedback: Collect feedback after each training session.
- Observation: Attend some of the meetings where student reps participate to observe their performance.
- Post-term Review: At the end of their term, conduct a review to understand challenges faced and areas of improvement.
- Update Training Materials: Revise training content regularly based on feedback and changing needs.
- Logistics and Planning
- Choose suitable dates and locations for training.
- Ensure materials are prepared and distributed ahead of time.
- Communicate the schedule and expectations clearly to participants.
- Foster a community
- Create opportunities for student reps to network, share experiences, and collaborate outside of formal meetings.
- Consider establishing a forum or online group for them to communicate and share resources.
- Celebrate and Recognize
- Acknowledge the hard work and dedication of student reps.
- Offer certificates of completion for the training.
- Consider annual awards or recognition for outstanding representatives.
- Remember, the key to successful training is understanding the unique challenges faced by student representatives in your specific institution and tailoring the training to meet those needs. Adapt and iterate on the training
We now invite you to check out the following resources:
Description: This resource from the University of San Diego gives advice on creating employee training programs, but the advice could be easily applied to building student training programs as well.
Student Reps Training Online: Behind the Brief (by University of Sussex, Pete Sparkes): https://blogs.sussex.ac.uk/tel/2015/12/02/student-reps-training-online-behind-the-brief/