Attending the First and Further Year Forum earlier this year in April on Students As Partners made me think about how much I’ve learnt working with students for the past 19 years and how much I’ve grown from the experience.  So without further ado, here are five things I’ve learnt about working with students as partners:

1. Students need to get something out of it

It might be hard to quantify, like developing their confidence, skills or experience, or it might be something concrete, like a certificate, reference, recommendation or monetary compensation.  Don’t expect that students will do it unless they can see benefit – they’re pulled in all directions and often working a lot outside uni, so respect their willingness to commit and work with you and compensate them.

2. Understanding today’s student

Long gone are the days when students spent five days on campus and had time between classes. Sometimes when I talk to my leaders, I find out that they have scheduled themselves to have 2 x 9 hour days and the other 3 days they are working.  They are limited in their time.  At the Forum, one of my student leaders was asked how many jobs she had. The answer? Four.

3. It will require careful mentoring and feedback

We spend 2 days training new U:PASS leaders, of which I have between 20-50 each semester. It’s a lot of time and effort and expense.  You can’t throw students into a project and just leave them hanging. You’ll need to walk alongside with them, catch up with them regularly, help them solve complex elements and scaffold it appropriately.

4. It’s a two way street

I have learnt so much from my student leaders about facilitating learning, dealing with difficult students, managing a complex and multi-faceted study and personal life. You will learn and grow too.

5. It’s worth it

It’s so worth it. Working with my student leader team is the reason I’m still here after 10 years. They are amazing. They inspire me every day. It gives me hope that the next generation is coming along and will help make the world a better place.

For more information on U:PASS, take a look at another post I wrote earlier this year, Students as Partners: 12 years and counting of U:PASS.

Feature image by Element5 Digital.

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