Making the transition from one school year to the next is a crucial but also tricky stage for every chapter. Choosing new officers and preparing them to assume their positions, keeping momentum going over the summer, and getting organized to hit the ground running in the fall are all big challenges facing chapters at this time of year. There are a few steps that your chapter can take to ensure that this transitional time is not only comfortable but productive as well.
All chapters are required to complete the Chapter Annual Report Survey at the end of every school year. This survey was recently emailed to Lead Chapter Sponsors, but it is recommended that the Sponsor and officers meet and fill out the survey together. This also can be an excellent time to put together any end-of-year reports you need to send to school administration, student government, and/or donor groups, and go over any paperwork or other preparations that will need to be in place for the next year.
In addition, Chapter Officers, both outgoing and incoming, should fill out the Officers Only Survey, due May 13.
A chapter meeting at the end of the year, with everyone present, is a great way to generate ideas for what the chapter would like to accomplish next year and to set up your event calendar for the coming year. Everyone can voice their ideas and more veteran members and officers can give guidance and let other members know what works and what does not. You’ll also want to decide if you will be able to have any meetings over the summer.
Chapters are strongly encouraged to maintain communication over the summer. The Chapter Sponsor and Chapter Officers should try to hold at least one officer meeting over the summer, even if it has to be held via conference call or web chat. Officers can use the summer to begin planning fall activities such as new member recruitment and fundraisers. Use the Chapter Life section of the website to get ideas.
Becoming an officer for a chapter can be an intimidating prospect until you are comfortable with the position. I know I felt overwhelmed and a little confused when I became a student leader. To smooth this transition, outgoing officers can meet with incoming officers to go over the responsibilities that come with the office and to share various tips and resources to help out while they get used to the responsibilities of their positions. I recommend meeting over lunch or coffee, something to make everyone comfortable. Make sure everyone can get questions in and everyone knows what is expected of them in their different offices. Chapter records should be provided to new officers as soon as possible.
It’s also a good idea to direct new officers to the various online resources available to chapters, such as the Chapter Life section of the website, the official Facebook page, the regional discussion groups, and the WORDY by Nature blog.
Finally, remind your Chapter Sponsor to update the chapter’s Write Away records ASAP to remove all outgoing officers from the officers list and to add any new officers with accurate contact information. This is essential to ensure that current officers receive the eNews and other important communications from the Central Office and their regional leaders.
Following the above advice will prepare you to be a better leader and position your chapter for a productive and successful year. Remember to ask questions and take advantage of the experience of Chapter Sponsors and outgoing officers. Being an officer is a very rewarding opportunity. It’s not just a good line on a resume. It also gives you a lot of leadership experience that will be useful to you throughout your academic career and into the workforce.