ResLife Pro-D in a Bag: How Might We Re-Imagine the “RD” Role? (1 hour)

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: How Might We Re-Imagine the “RD” Role? (1 hour)

This Pro-D in a Bag is designed for schools to explore the current structure of their Residence Director roles and envision what changes need to be made to make it more healthy and sustainable for their staff–both structurally and in practice. This discussion may also be fruitful for institutions struggling with recruiting and retaining staff fin their RD roles.

Time: 1 hour
Audience: Professional staff members
– Highlight ways in which the RD role as traditionally conceived has changed over time.
– Articulate concerns staff have when serving in the RD role.
– Recall issues that need to be addressed to make the RD role more sustainable and healthy for the staff serving in it.
– Begin to take action to better support, enhance, and re-envision the RD role.

Before the session:

1. Watch This Video

The following are two episodes from Student Affairs NOW. You can also listen to them as podcasts (subscribe). Everyone should watch the first video, the second video is optional and expands more on the topic.

Read the transcript and access the show notes for this episode here.

Optional: Also Watch This Video

Read the transcript and access the show notes for this episode here.

Suggested Facilitation:

Begin the session by explaining why you this topic was chosen. Set ground rules. In order for this discussion to be effective, staff need to be able to speak candidly without fear of reprisal. You should not understate this discussion unless a baseline of trust is established.

Start by asking participants for their initial reactions.

The following are some prompts for discussion:

  • What are some of the reasons you hear for folks leaving (or not entering) residence life as a career?
    • Poor supervisors? Long hours? Campus crisis burnout? Lack of upward advancement opportunities?
  • What are some of the root causes of increasing dissatisfaction with the RD role?
  • What are the causes for “the great resignation” happening now?
  • Has our COVID experience taught us anything? Are we trying to bo back to the way things were or are we envisioning how they could be?
  • Do RDs need to be live-in/line-on?
  • How do we deal with increased crisis needs? Should the RD be one of the main responders?
  • How have the needs/expectations of students/parents evolved?
  • Should the lines between case managers, counselors, and residence directors be redrawn?
  • Should the lines between public safety and residence directors be redrawn?
  • What would a re-envisioned RD work day look like?
  • How are we providing care to RDs who are responding to crisis?
  • How can we better support RDs through secondary trauma and related mental health issues that arise?
  • How can we support the RAs, who often turn to the RDs for support?
  • What should RD compensation look like? What are the challenges to addressing this?
  • Who do the live-on benefits (apartment, meal plan, etc.) benefit? The employee? The institution?
  • What other non-compensation benefits and opportunities should be available to RDs that aren’t currently?
  • How have the needs places on the RD position evolved? Are the skills needed still the same?
  • Are graduate programs adequately preparing new professionals for their roles?
  • What are the skills, knowledge, and abilities needed for employees in a modern RD role?

To conclude the session, if you decide to pursue some changes to your positions (or want to explore further), set out some next steps for action.

Additional Resources To Dive Deeper:

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