Blog written by Franklin Chilaka and Danielle Johnson
In the residence halls here at BSU, Resident Assistants use a programming model to put on programs that will help our residents. Topics range with a wide variety to meet a number of students’ needs and prepare them for things happening in the world. When the department first learned of Tom Rath’s and Jim Hartner’s book “Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements”, we realized that this could be a very beneficial thing for us and for our students. After attending the Student Affairs professional development day centered around the five elements, we decided to update our RA programming model to be based around wellbeing.
The wellbeing programming model focuses on Tom Rath’s and Jim Hartner’s five essential areas of well-being and how they depict that these elements are needed to ensure that an individual is living a life that increases their overall satisfaction. The first area is career/purpose wellbeing, which focuses on developing skills and preparing students to seek opportunities that will aid them in attaining their goals. This area is critical for our students to understand as they can start to master behaviors and skills that aid them in finding a career they love in hopes of having more time to enjoy life.
Next is physical wellbeing, which focuses on creating healthy habits and practices that support the student’s wellness holistically. We believe this area is important for our students because if they are balanced and making healthy decisions in their lives, they will be able to engage completely with their surroundings in and outside the classroom.
The third area is community wellbeing, which focuses on giving students a chance to get involved with the community around them. We want our residents to take pride in their communities and make the most of their collegiate experience, and programs in this area emphasize that and gives them the opportunity.
Next is social wellbeing, which focuses on creating students’ own identity and appreciating the differences in others. This leads them to create strong relationships with others around them. The programming that occurs in this area would be anything that promotes building relationships with others, but is more than just an ice cream social with one’s floor. It is important for our residents to develop relationships with individuals that will aid them in them in their development into productive citizens.
Finally, the fifth area is financial wellbeing which focuses on educating students about managing their own finances and giving them information in order to help them succeed with their own goals. We try to emphasize to our residents that thinking about how to manage their money now will help them create financial security in the future. Even more simply, we want them to make informed financial decisions.
Bulletin boards serve as an additional component to the wellbeing model that is meant to serve as a means to educate our residents about matters going on campus, around the world, or to simply teach them about their peers or environment. The first category is current events, which can describe anything from what’s happening in the residence halls, to what’s happening locally or globally. This area is meant to educate our residents so that they may be more informed. The next category is educational, which focuses on teaching something to our residents that they may not already know. This can be drawn from a personal interest or something that the resident assistant thinks students would like more information about. The third category is interactive, which is meant to spark interaction or conversation amongst one’s residential community whether it prompts residents for a response or to complete a task. The final category is social change, which prompts resident assistants to present information that will spark dialogue around areas of social justice, environmentalism, civic engagement, and ecologism.
The five elements of wellbeing incorporate so much of what we were trying to accomplish with our students. Through our wellbeing model, we want them to be happy and well-rounded after they graduate, and the wellbeing model focuses on doing just that: creating a balanced life. The new programming model has empowered our resident assistants to develop efforts that are geared toward our students getting the most out of life and influencing those around them. This model is also a tool that helps students discover essential qualities and characteristics that are associated with success. It is important to note that it is not an expectation that the resident assistants are experts in each area. This model was designed so that they can reach out to offices that may know more about some of topics that fall into these areas. We are pleased with the progress we have made and believe we are better serving our students by focusing on the five areas of wellbeing in this model.