At 1 p.m. on March 21, student leaders from Utica College turned on their Zoom cameras for the dance floor theory leadership training. Over 15 students attended, representing the Student Government Association, the Literature Society, Active Minds and several other campus organizations.
The three-hour Zoom call was led by nationally renowned speaker Tom Krieglstein. Krieglstein founded Swift Kick, a company that promotes leadership workshops, in 2004. Over the years he has worked as a TEDx speaker, trained executives from famous companies such as Coca Cola and is the author of the book “First -Year Student To First-Year Success. “
As student leaders participated in the call, along with Deputy Director of College Engagement Jason Francey and Deputy Director of Leadership Development Bethany VanBenschoten, Krieglstein played catchy music. He greeted each member by name to set the atmosphere for the event.
Crystal Santiago attended and was surprised to see how interesting it was for the students. Adding music to the background and showing appreciation for the members were just a few of the things that she liked. Santiago graduated in Child Life, Childhood and Special Education Psychology and is involved in several organizations on campus.
“What I took away from the program is that you could make the organization more engaging by doing simple things,” she said.
Event attendees were invited to compliment each other via Zoom chat. Icebreakers were employed using the poll function, with questions such as: “Would you rather have more time or more money?” Whenever a question was answered, Krieglstein would pull someone into the presentation screen with him to answer.
While putting the spotlight on the students, Krieglstein would also give a personal response. He recounted personal anecdotes about his life, such as the fact that he got married a few years ago, and some proverbs he considered particularly important, such as: “A mess of the past is a message of the future”.
Throughout the training, several stages were presented following the analogy of the dance floor. An organization is considered a “dance floor” and student leaders should invite others to get involved.
“The more friends there are, the more fun,” Krieglstein said. “A group of friends is like a mini dance floor.”
Krieglstein emphasized cultivating bonds between group members and recognizing that the pace of engagement varies depending on several factors, including personality type. Each information section was accompanied by graphics, videos and mini-discussions in breakout rooms. Participants were encouraged to learn from each other in these breakout rooms as a role model to bring back to their respective organizations.
The training focused on how to maneuver spectators into becoming participants. Krieglstein offered advice on how to slowly develop neutral student engagement, starting with a pattern break to stimulate curiosity. From there, student leaders can lead spectators into the group by appealing to their individual identity within the organization.
Krieglstein advised student leaders to practice inclusive behavior. During the Zoom call, the member celebration often took place with jazz hands or by typing in the chat. Another activity involved everyone turning off their cameras and only appearing again to respond to a prompt. These activities fostered engagement by allowing participants to reveal facts about themselves.
“As a Zoom conference, one thing that I found successful was how facilitated the program was and how accommodating the setup was,” Santiago said. “This included things such as allowing student leaders to speak and ask questions using the chat box in the conference. “
When it was 4 p.m., Francey took to the front of the screen to make an announcement. Student organizations will be allowed to organize in-person events according to the rules of the last semester. Rooms used should be disinfected before leaving and attendance should be tracked through Pioneer Place or PioHub later in the semester.
“We’re definitely bringing a big tent outside of Strebel,” Francey said. “Sales of table and baking products may continue with the policies of last semester. Each product must be pre-packaged by the company before being sold on campus.
Reservations for the Boehlert Conference Room, MacFarlane Auditorium and Donahue Auditorium are open for small events that respect social distancing, COVID room occupancy monitored, and mandatory masks. The Strebel Lounge will also be available Monday through Friday after 5 p.m. The Strebel Auditorium will be open after April 5, but priority will be given to the dance team and other performing groups.
The process will be to submit an event to Pioneer Place or PioHub towards the end of the semester, get approval from SLCE, and have an occupancy limit. It may also be necessary to discuss with campus security before plans are approved. Pioneer Place will shut down in April and the college will switch to PioHub, which will serve the same purpose.
“I know this is exciting news, but I also ask that in addition to the in-person activities, you continue to host virtual meetings and events,” Francey said. “We have a number of Pioneers who are completely distant and it is important to keep them involved. “