Sometimes you have information you really would like your residents to know, but you just can’t get your residents interested in what you need to tell them. How can you make this information as pleasing and as interesting as possible, and get them interested? The answer I have found is passive programming. Passive programming is planned programming that does not necessarily require a meeting time and place. This kind of programming is what most likely happens on your bulletin boards, with flyers given to you from health promotions, or anything that you post on the walls.
When is it a good idea to use passive programming?
Less Than Interesting Information: Let’s face it. Sometimes there is information your residents need, but they just don’t want to hear. Maybe you’ve noticed that they are coming in a little too tipsy at night, overheard someone discussing STDs, or even found some residents who want to join clubs but don’t know how to find them. You could bring in a speaker (and hope that food will bring in the residents), or you could utilize passive programming to get the information across. Passive programming has the ability to reach people over a longer period of time as well as reaching those residents who really don’t like to go to any extra meetings.
Liven Up The Environment: A nice side benefit of passive programming is that it livens up the environment. Lots of boring signs and nothing too personal on the hallway? Throw up some butcher paper for residents to write on. Is the bathroom seen as a place to only do your “business?” Throw in some funny quotes up in the stalls. Is the hike up the stairwell a long boring walk? Use the steps to illustrate steps to successful studying. Passive programming does not only get information across, but helps keep the environment interesting.
Thinking Outside The Box: Passive programming is a great way to stay creative with your job. It can also be a great way to see what your residents are thinking and find out what they are truly interested in participating in. Many passive programs give great insight into what your residents are thinking and can offer you a springboard into a teachable moment. The sky really is the limit with passive programming! (But to get you started, I’ve included some tried and true passive programs from my hall.)
Passive programming that works:
This has always been a favorite in my experience. I cover the bathroom stall doors with butcher paper and pose questions for the residents to answer. Questions can range from silly (“What was your favorite 80s TV show?”) to serious (“Who is your role model?”) to reflective (“What has happened this semester that affected you most and why?”). I find that a varied approach works best to reach the most residents.
Rad Recognition Refrigerator
All this takes is a little word of mouth advertisement and some white butcher paper. Cover a public door (bathroom, your room, etc.) with the butcher paper and decorate the door so that it looks like a typical refrigerator. Residents can put A+ papers, pictures, or anything else they’d like to see on their refrigerator on the “refrigerator” door. If participation is low, a little incentive for the most posts always helps.
STDs in the Shower
I used this idea for STD information, though the idea would work with any thing you’d like to get out to your residents. Just make up an information sheet and laminate it. After the sheet is coated in plastic it can survive quite some time in the shower stalls. (Your shower set up will affect the way you attach the sheet. I poked holes and used string to tie it up to the shower head.) Best of all, there is no way for your residents to avoid this information!
Who’s Your Neighbor?!?
Depending on the time of year you can do this with photos or biographies. The RAs in my building posted photos and names on our bulletin boards, making sure that the names were not attached to photos. Then we set up a contest to see who could match all the names with the faces. Even the residents who didn’t want to play paid attention to the bulletin board… they wanted to see how they looked!
Students get stressed out around that exam time of year… and they don’t have time to go to programs on stress management and study suggestions. One way to get that information out to the residents is to put candy and these tips inside Easter eggs. Hide the eggs around your hall, building, or area and let everyone know. All of us enjoy a little step back into childhood, especially if it means putting off studying another five minutes.
Everyone likes a little recognition! We created a chain where anyone could fill out a link for anyone else on the hall. All the link required was a name and a note saying why the person is being congratulated. This chain grew as the semester went on, and at the end of the semester we drew a random link for a prize. This is a great way to recognize Of The Month winners on the hall, good grades, and helpful attitudes.
Submitted by Lauren Pressley, Resident Advisor, North Carolina State University