There Is Life After Homecoming
The highlight of fall for most student activity groups is the Homecoming season. Traditionally full of activities and spirit, Homecoming takes a huge amount of effort and leadership to pull off. For many groups, it’s all downhill after Homecoming—both in the sense that nothing else is as challenging to organize or as much fun. Life after Homecoming doesn’t have to be a let-down though if you take steps to capitalize on the spirit of the season and make it last through the year.
Celebrate Your Success
Wow, you did it! You and your student leaders made it through another Homecoming. Whether it all went great or there were some parts that didn’t go well, your hard work and hours of planning made it happen. Take time to acknowledge that. Recognize group members with funny and appropriate awards; take time at the first meeting after Homecoming to go around and give appreciations and praise for each person. Let everyone bask in the glow of knowing that they made Homecoming happen.
While you’re at it, do something nice for yourself for all the extra hours you put in during Homecoming. Check out flights online and see if there’s a great airfare that you and your significant other could take advantage of to slip away for a weekend and reconnect. If your budget doesn’t allow that, stay close to home and just read a book, take a hike, or indulge in something you love to do.
Families often get neglected during the busy times, so be sure to let those important to you know that you appreciate their support and patience. Make a commitment to be home early for a whole week to spend some quality time with your family.
While you’re appreciating people’s support and patience, don’t forget to send thank you notes to staff members, parents, volunteers, and community members who helped you make Homecoming possible. Handwritten notes that specifically mention the contribution of the person being thanked will help the person realize that his or her contributions were noted and appreciated. A batch of oatmeal raisin cookies left in the teacher’s lounge with a note thanking the faculty for their help “raisin” school spirit will be appreciated, too.
Celebrate the success of the groups involved in Homecoming, too. Create a perpetual plaque to record who won the spirit competition or paint a spirit mural on the gym wall that the winning class can be added to each year as a permanent record.
Evaluate the Effort
After the initial relief of Homecoming being over and the celebration of success, it’s time to evaluate the whole effort. Instead of just jumping in to the next thing on the calendar, take time to talk about what worked, why it worked, and whom it worked for. Discuss what could be improved next time.
A simple method of evaluating is to draw a line on the board or chart paper and put a + on one side, and a ∆ on the other. Brainstorm the +’s—things that went well—and the ∆’s—things that need to be changed next time.
While you’re evaluating, don’t just look at the projects. Look also at the process. Ask yourself and your group members:
How did group members work together?
Was communication clear?
How were problems resolved?
Did everyone fulfill their responsibilities?
Did the organizational structure aid or hinder the work?
What lessons can be learned about how you worked together that can be applied to future projects?
Another aspect of the evaluation could be to take a look at the tone that was created by your Homecoming activities. Consider the following aspects:
Did Homecoming create a unified school, or is there a feeling of unrest or disaffection because not everyone was included?
How did people respond to the activities and events that were planned?
Who participated? Was it the same ol’ people, or was a more diverse representation of the student body involved?
If the overall feeling after Homecoming is positive, future activities can build on it.
Enjoy Some Down Time
If at all possible, don’t have any activities scheduled for immediately after Homecoming so you can enjoy a little bit of down time to regroup and refresh. For a week, have your organization members bring in something that has inspired them—a book, video, poem, movie—and share them.
Refocus Your Efforts
Capitalize on the spirit raised during Homecoming by brainstorming with group members about what can be done to keep it going. Discuss some of the following:
Revisit your goals. Take a look at the goals the group set at the beginning of the year. After assessing how many of them were accomplished or at least begun during the whirlwind of Homecoming, discuss what’s left to be done. What activities need to be planned to help the group achieve the rest of its goals? Plan out a tentative calendar for the rest of the semester.
Refocus on academics. How can you apply the Homecoming concepts to support the academic mission of the school? Perhaps you could have a class competition to see which class has the highest average GPA or the largest number of students who improved their GPA? Or plan an academic pep rally to recognize excellence in academics the way we highlight the sports teams. How about a quiz bowl activity featuring teams of students from the different grades?
Plan to involve people. Consider what your group can do in the future to involve those who didn’t get in on the Homecoming spirit. Is there an activity your group can plan that would reach out to a sub-group of students—an extreme skateboard demo after school, a car show, a multicultural event? Make a conscious effort to plan activities that will get all students as excited and involved as the ones who participated in Homecoming activities.
Adviser's Guide to Student Activities
Educators who find themselves taking on the role of adviser to a student activity organization often have received no training on how to be an effective adviser. Rather than leaving new activity advisers to sink or swim on their own, the Adviser’s Guide to Student Activities offers guidance on how to work with a student organization. Chapters on getting started, organizing the work, meeting management, financial management, evaluation, and recognition provide strategies and tools to help make the advising role go smoothly.
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Looking for more on goal setting?
An important step in planning for a successful year is establishing or reaffirming the reason for the group’s existence and setting goals to support it.
Adviser Essentials: Goal Setting offers guidance for both novice and veteran advisers on how to set goals for themselves and their organizations and how to teach student leaders to do the same.
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