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Program Structure (Principled Commitment)

Principled Commitment consists of eleven two-hour workshops, including a celebratory closure. These workshops can be offered one or two at a time over a period of weeks.

The workshops can also be combined and presented during one or two weekend retreats. Keep in mind, however, that the condensed time frame will decrease opportunities for couples to reflect on topics discussed during workshops. For use in a retreat setting, the opening, check-in, and closing activities can be condensed. A sample retreat schedule can be found in Leader Resource 4, Leading Principled Commitment as a Retreat.

Each of Principled Commitment's workshops has a consistent structure, as outlined below.

Introduction

The introduction provides a short summary of the workshop's content, along with guidance for leaders about implementing the workshop.

Goals

The Goals section provides general outcomes toward which the workshop is geared. As you plan a workshop, apply your knowledge of your group, the time and space you have available, and your own strengths and interests as co-leaders to determine the most important and achievable goals for the workshop and the activities that will best serve those goals.

Learning Objectives

The Learning Objectives section describes specific participant outcomes that the workshop activities are designed to facilitate. It may be helpful to think of learning objectives as the building blocks with which the Principled Commitment program's larger, "big-picture" goals are achieved. If particular learning objectives appeal to you as important for your group, make sure you select the activities for this workshop that address these outcomes.

Workshop-at-a-Glance

The "Workshop-at-a-Glance" table lists the workshop activities in order and provides an estimated time for completing each activity.

Workshop-at-a-Glance is not a road map that you must follow. Rather, use it as a menu for planning the workshop. You will decide which elements to use and how to combine these to best suit your group, your meeting space, and the amount of time you have.

Keep in mind that many variables inform the actual completion time for an activity. Whole-group discussions will take longer in a large group than in a small group. Remember to consider the time you will need to relocate participants to another area of your meeting room.

Spiritual Preparation

Each workshop provides suggestions that leaders may use to prepare themselves for leading the workshop. Take advantage of these suggestions as a way to experience aspects of the Principled Commitment program yourself, to grow spiritually, and to grow as a leader.

Workshop Plan

The workshop plan presents every element of the workshop and a Resources section. The Resources section includes additional sources to help you, the leader, further explore the workshop topics. The workshop elements are:

Welcoming and Entering. This section offers steps for welcoming participants as they arrive. It is recommended that the preparations in each Welcoming and Entering section be completed 15 minutes before each workshop's scheduled beginning.

Opening. Each workshop begins with a short opening worship, including a welcome, chalice-lighting ritual, reflection on a guiding Unitarian Universalist Principle, guided meditation, and readings. Take the liberty you need to shape your opening ritual to suit your group, any space limitations, and the culture and practices of your congregation.

Activities. Up to seven activities form the core content of each workshop. The variety of activities presented within each workshop helps you address different learning styles you may find among your participants.

Presenting the activities in the sequence suggested for each workshop will help you provide a coherent learning experience. In general, the suggested sequence balances listening with talking and complements individual exploration with small group or whole group exploration.

Each workshop includes a separate section of alternate activities. You may choose to substitute any of these for some of the workshop's core activities. Alternate activities can also be used to build longer workshops of up to three hours.

Select activities that you feel best suit the widest range of participants' interests and will work well for you and your group. Keep in mind your participants' journey of learning and the benefits of a well-paced workshop that includes different kinds of activities. If you are using alternate activities, take care to sequence them in an order that creates a balanced flow throughout the workshop.

The following information is provided for activities:

  • Materials for Activity. This checklist tells you the supplies you will need.
  • Preparation for Activity. Review the "to do" list for each activity at least one week ahead of a workshop. If your group meets less frequently than weekly, review the preparation items several weeks ahead. The list identifies all the advance work you need to do for the activity, such as writing a list of questions on newsprint or arranging supplies just before your participants arrive.
  • Description of Activity. This section provides detailed directions for implementing the activity with your group. Read the activity descriptions carefully during your planning process so that you understand each activity and its purpose. Later, when you are leading your group, you can use the description as a step-by-step how-to manual.
  • Including All Participants. Some activities offer specific accessibilities guidance under the heading "Including All Participants." This section appears only in activities that have unusual physical circumstances or for which leaders would benefit from a special reminder about inclusion. Please consult Workshop 1, Leader Resources 5, 6, and 7 for general guidelines to help you respond to some of the most common accessibility needs.

Closing. Each workshop offers a closing ritual that signals the end of your group's time together. During the closing, you will introduce the workshop's Taking It Home ideas, invite participants to share briefly, offer closing words, and extinguish the chalice. Like the opening, the closing of a workshop grounds the experience in ritual. Use the curriculum as a resource to shape a closing that fits your group and the culture and practices of your congregation.

Leader Reflection and Planning. This section provides questions to help co-leaders process the workshop after it is concluded and use their reflections to shape future workshops.

Taking It Home. The Taking It Home resources for each workshop are designed to help couples extend their Principled Commitment experiences. These "Affection Connection" activities include conversation topics, journaling assignments, and other ideas for incorporating learnings from the workshop into couples' daily lives — at home, in their workplaces, in their congregations, and as members of other communities to which they may belong. Taking It Home is designed to be inclusive of all couples in any family configuration.

After you download the Taking It Home section, you can print out and photocopy it "as is" for participants to bring home, or you may customize it first.

Alternate Activities. As described earlier, most workshops feature one or more alternate activities. You can use these to extend the total time of the workshops or substitute them for core workshop activities. Sometimes the alternate activities are simpler to implement than the core activities. Materials checklists, preparation steps, and descriptions for alternate activities appear in the same format as they do in the core activities.

Each workshop includes an alternate activity called "Faith in Action." These activities are designed to give participants an opportunity to put their Unitarian Universalist faith into action by articulating their faith, serving their congregation, or engaging in collective social action.

Resources. In a workshop's Resources section, you can find all the handouts and other materials you will need to lead every element of the workshop. You will also find supplemental resources to help you, the leader, further explore the workshop topics.

  • Handouts. Under this heading, find any material that you need to print out and photocopy for all participants to use in the workshop.
  • Leader Resources. These materials, such as guided meditations, are for the leader's use during the workshop.
  • Find Out More. Under this heading, find a list of books, videos, websites, and other resources to help you learn more about the workshop topics.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Saturday, October 29, 2011.

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