In conversations amongst highly-motivated, competitive Model UN delegates, a common topic of discussion is often complaints about the faculty advisor of one’s high school Model UN team. Perhaps they are too controlling, or maybe they don’t care enough: whether they don’t award leadership positions fairly or they don’t delegate at all, there’s always something to be found that’s wrong. Maintaining a positive relationship with your faculty advisor, though, is actually pretty simple. The vast majority of the time, advisors want the best for their students and are just looking for basic respect and common curtesy. So, for the delegates who constantly complain about their Model UN advisors, here are a few pieces of advice as to how you can better your relationship with your faculty advisor:
1.) Keep them in the loop.
Actions as small as sharing your lesson plans, simulation ideas, and fundraising brainstorms make all the difference in the inclusion of your advisor in the day-to-day functioning of the team. The single most important thing you can do to improve your relationship with your advisor is this: communicate, communicate, communicate. Send emails, catch them in the hallways, and share Google Docs: these are things which take practically no added effort for you, but they ensure that your advisor is not kept in the dark, a feeling which typically results in frustration and annoyance.
2.) Ask for advice; even when you don’t want it.
An age-old truth: adults hate it when kids act like we’ve got it all figured out. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are or how clueless your advisor may be: you simply cannot come across as arrogant without risking a massive degradation of faculty advisor’s perception of you.
You can still be opinionated when it comes to matters of club leadership or team training: just do so while intermittently asking questions and requesting advice. Is it ingenuine? Maybe a little. But it’s pragmatic, too, and mutually beneficial.
Who knows, maybe you’ll even learn something!
3.) Look out for younger club members & prioritize recruitment.
Consider the fact that your faculty advisor will continue running the Model UN team even after you graduate; as such, they have to worry about maintaining student engagement beyond the confines of just one academic school year. By dedicating time and attention to younger members of the team, you show your advisor that your concern applies not only to your own Model UN career, but the general well being of the team as a whole (even after you graduate). Put a good effort into recruiting new members to the team–especially underclassmen–and take special care to help them acclimate to the world of Model UN. In doing so, you reveal selflessness, and you take a bit of stress off the shoulders of your advisor.
4.) Plan ahead.
Believe it or not, your faculty advisor does more than solely run the school’s Model UN team: they teach classes, they develop curriculum, they take on other administrative tasks, and they have a personal life, too. There’s nothing more frustrating than constantly having things up in the air, particularly when it comes to managing logistics for conferences. So, make things easy on them: make a team calendar, plan ahead, and take care of the logistics well in advance to avoid any last minute scrambling. This will not only make your life easier as the school year gets more intense, but it will put your advisor at ease and build trust by demonstrating your executive functioning skills.
At the risk of sounding cliché, it’s the little things that count. Communication and solid planning are key. Maintaining a classy, respectful demeanor will help club leadership function smoothly and prevent any sour interactions. Ideally, the advisor being included leads to trust and confidence in your abilities, which means things get done with less faculty oversight and thus more efficiently. Remember that performance buys latitude: so no matter how frustrated you may get, stick to the basics of a respectful relationship, and all will work out just fine.