"The Pod" Collaboration

Holly Swyers, Lake forest College
Author Profile



Learning Goals

Create an environment that
  1. Gave students a group of potential student-student connections larger than an FIYS class but smaller than the whole first year class.
  2. Emphasized Lake Forest College as a community of learners, regardless of institutional role or disciplinary interest.
  3. Enabled a conversation about learning and life that could both augment and transcend classes.
  4. Produced a shared curricular experience between multiple classes that would not disrupt the content in any class.
  5. Created support connections among and between the teaching faculty and other campus professionals
  6. Respected the time of all parties involved and did not become burdensome to anyone.

Context for Use

This collaboration was developed for use at a small liberal arts college.

Description and Teaching Materials

1) In the early-mid fall, three faculty members agree to work together and decide on a shared frame. Metacognition works very well because it is useful in every discipline and can be incorporated without sacrificing content. We suggest that the three classes span at least two divisions to maximize benefit to both faculty and students. We also note that this could be done with 2 or 4 classes, but think 3 is optimal.
2) Once faculty self-identify in a pod, they are assigned a coordinator. We suggest that in the short term, LTC is the place where coordinators are assigned and pod applications are processed (a little like teaching triangles). Once coordinators and pods are paired up, then organization duties fall to the coordinator. Please note we suggest that the coordinator NOT be drawn from the teaching faculty.
3) If the pod is to include a residential component, the coordinator should liaise with res life in late fall/early spring.
4) In spring and summer, faculty and coordinator find at least 2-3 support professionals to work with the pod. Our suggestion is that someone from athletics, res life, and students affairs are on board. We also benefitted from having a learning support specialist and a public safety officer in our pod.
5) Also over spring and summer, coordinators and faculty should meet to figure out when the pod will get together, how that coordinates with what is happening in class, and how to encourage students to participate. See below for the kinds of things that might be considered.
6) During the semester, the pod meets 5-6 times. Teaching faculty would participate in the 3-4 of the meetings; support professionals and coordinator would take primary responsibility for these meetings. RAs could be used very effectively to augment pod programming in the residence halls (arranging movie nights, cheering sections for games, concert attendance, etc). This will be particularly effective in pods that are grouped in one or two residence halls.
7) Optional, but worth doing: during the semester, faculty and pod professionals put in an appearance in all pod classes. For teaching faculty, this could be done under the auspices of a teaching triangle or just be used as an opportunity to see what's going on in other classes.

Pod quick Summary (Acrobat (PDF) 54kB Apr25 11)

Teaching Notes and Tips




References and Resources