ResLife Pro-D in a Bag: Evaluating And Enhancing Your Residential Curriculum (1-1.5 hours)

The “Pro-D in a Bag” series provides all the details you’ll need to create a professional development opportunity for your staff around a given topic. Each facilitation guide outlines free and open source videos to watch, articles to read, quizzes and inventories to complete, and suggested questions for discussion and activities. You can facilitate this as a professional development session or integrate it into a staff meeting. It’s professional development “in a bag.”

We offer 3 tracks of our “Pro-D in a Bag” series:

  1. ResLife Pro-D in a Bag (for Professional Staff)
  2. RA Pro-D in a Bag (for Student Staff)
  3. Roompact Pro-D in a Bag (highlighting software features for users)

Topic: Evaluating and Enhancing Your Residential Curriculum

This Pro-D in a Bag is designed for schools that have already launched a curriculum and are looking to evaluate their progress (both positive and negative) and identify areas for improvement. If you are just beginning your journey and are thinking about transitioning to a residential curriculum, view this session instead. If you are looking for a refresher on residential curriculum basics, or if you’re a new staff member at a school using a residential curriculum and you’re looking to learn more about curricular approaches, view this session.

Time: 1-1.5 hours (Depending on how deep discussion is regarding the Self-Assessment Instrument)
Audience: Professional staff members involved in the curriculum
– Better articulate the difference between a residential curriculum and a program model approach.
– Identify areas of strength and weakness for your current implementation of a residential curriculum.
– Assess staff member and stakeholder buy-in at all levels.
– Set goals for the next phase of your curricular improvements.

Before the session:

1. Watch

Watch the following video as a primer to remember key points about developing a residential curriculum.

2. Review

Read through this review of how a residential curriculum works and how all the pieces fit together. This is your “cheat sheet” for a curricular approach.

3. Read

These readings address how to complete the transition from a program model approach to residential education to a residential curriculum. The will help you identify where your current approach may fall short of being a “true” curriculum, and areas that are common sticking points for schools in their transition. Finally, there is a choice of articles about how to address issues of buy-in from campus stakeholders, professional staff, and student staff.

Read both of these articles:

Choose and read one of the following:

4. Complete

eBook Download - Standards

Before the session, download a copy of this self assessment instrument. For each item, self rate where you think your current curriculum implementation falls on the spectrum. Bring this with you to the discussion. (Alternate option: collect these ratings beforehand and present tabulated results at the session.)

Suggested Facilitation:

Begin the session by setting the tone. The purpose of this session is to have an honest conversation about the current state of your residential curriculum. Staff need to feel comfortable to share their observations and opinions without fear. A key success factor in an effective curriculum is transparency and a learning-centered mindset.

Start by asking participants for their initial reactions.

The first pair of articles addresses the differences between a program model and a residential curriculum as well as other areas where departments often get “stuck” in developing their residential curriculum. Discuss:

  • Does everyone understand the different between a program model and a residential curriculum?
    • Does everyone understand how community building efforts form the foundation for residential curriculum and residential student learning? How these two concepts fit together? how are they different?
  • Do we have a residential curriculum or do we have a program model with learning outcomes?
    • What do we need to do to change this?
  • Where are we getting stuck in advancing our curriculum?
    • Buy-In? Support? Ownership?
    • Paralysis in constantly revising our education objectives?
    • Mis-matched culture? Not cultivating a culture of learning?
    • Treating curriculum as an “add on” rather than the core of our work?
    • Letting go of personal ownership and moving towards collective ownership?
    • Being afraid of making mistakes? Not experimenting enough?
    • Over-designing our curriculum to the point that it is too complicated? Under-designing it so that its not effective?

For the next set of articles, participants were asked to select one of three. All articles deal with issues of buy-in and cultivating an educators mindset in order to have an effective curriculum. Discuss:

  • Are all of our staff members and stakeholders bought in?
  • Are our staff members and stakeholders excited about the possibilities of curriculum?
  • Do all of our staff members and stakeholders understand what a residential curriculum is? And why we do it?
  • Are we collaborating well–both internally and externally?

For the last activity, staff were asked to self rate the curriculum across a number of different criteria in the Residential Curriculum Self-Assessment Instrument. Go through this inventory as group group item-by-item. For each item, ask the staff by show of hands (or other indicators as they are able) how they rated the current curriculum and discuss why they chose that rating.

ex. For this item, How many of you rated it a 1? How many a 2? How many a 3? etc. (repeat)

Alternatively, you could collect responses beforehand and present staff with a summary of how folks rated each item.

ex. 0 people rated this item a 1, 2 people rated it a 1, 5 people rated it a 3, etc.

To conclude the session, set some initial plans for follow up on issues identified during the discussion. It will also be helpful for someone to take notes throughout and, at the conclusion, summarize the main points that were addressed.

Additional Resources To Dive Deeper:

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