Positive Parenting and Workplace Sensitivity Training

As parents committed to the positive parenting approach, many of you will try such techniques out with adults. You may even go as far as using the strategies that work with your children in the workplace. Things like setting clear expectations, using active listening, and definitely regulating emotions. The last thing you want is a workplace relationship analogous to an uninvolved parenting style.

Along those same lines positive parents tend to be inclusive in the workplace. It is a natural outcome of being respectful of others and valuing different opinions when brainstorming, working on a project, or getting to know someone personally. Even the field of positive parenting itself has recently recognized the need for inclusion beyond mothers and children to include fathers, grandparents, and all caregivers. So what if you find that your workplace is not very positive and lacks sensitivity, diversity, and inclusion? them the forum to see diversity and potentially hurtful comments from a different lens.

diversity facilitators pictures

Starting a Diversity Council

Consider joining your company’s or organization’s diversity council if one exists. If not, see if you can get a group of diverse employees together that see the value in the council and start one. There are guides you can use to get started from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Diversity and Inclusion Training

Another important step in establishing the culture and working environment you seek is starting with diversity training or building on the awareness or sensitivity training that was already initiated. Training is involved in the process to introduce key ideas around respect and the importance of using respectful communication practices. In person training is almost always the most engaging and effective.

Remember nearly all employees are teachable. As long as they are willing to listen and learn, there is hope. Also, diversity training is not something that is intrusive. Great diversity trainers present the courses in a way that engages the employees and gives

Online Training Webinars

Blended solutions are also an option and can have great outcomes. These options include webinars, presentations, and online training. Assuming leadership and managers get on board in sponsoring such programs, the opportunity for success is vast. Companies such as Diversity Builder, Inc. are established in leading successful diversity and sensitivity training programs that set up effective accountability systems within companies and teams.

Diversity Consulting

Following the training, the trainers should meet with the managers and human resources leaders to assess progress and establish next steps. It is definitely an ongoing process. This can involve additional facilitation with the management team to equip them with leading their teams in this effort. It may also take the form of one-on-one coaching of managers or employees who may be struggling with the program or in violation of the code of conduct for inappropriate behavior or communication. Things to consider include a review of the mission statement and values of the organization. Does your company have a diversity statement? Is the harassment prevention policy up-to-date? Does it use inclusive language and have bystander intervention support? These are important factors to consider as your company embarks on the journey of embracing and promoting diversity and inclusion.

Self-Esteem and Mirror Magic

Would you like more joy and self-trust with just 5 minutes a day for yourself and your family?  I’ll show you how.

There are many studies connecting low self-esteem to suicide. This is the number 3 cause of death of people under 25.

A recent study led by James C. Overholser, Ph. D from the Psychology in Cleveland, Ohio, set out to examine the direct relationship between suicidal tendencies and self-esteem. The conclusion made was not a surprising one: low self-esteem is very closely related to feelings of hopelessness, depression, and suicidal ideation.

Louise Hay wrote and spoke about using a mirror to help you find and trust your self worth. I used her concepts in the first of my Anessa’s Series, Anessa’s Gift.

Spoofing, a national past-time, of this honored method for connecting with true guidance and trusting that you have self-worth only proves how valuable it is.

In the book, Anessa receives a mirror on her eleventh birthday from her grandmother. She is taught to look into it each morning and do the three steps of mirror magic:

  • Tell the “you” in the mirror “I love you”.
  • Tell the “you” in the mirror at least five wonderful things that you are or would like to be.
  • Ask “What can I do today to make you happy?”

When my older granddaughter turned eleven. I was privileged to give her her own “magic mirror”.

On her birthday I explained the whole concept and she did it with her mom (in person) and me (on the phone).. Of course there were giggles and encouragement. And there was great success.

She continued the practice each day. Her mom notices that when her daughter does her “Mirror Magic” she is happier, more emotionally stable, and less likely to argue with her sister. My granddaughter notices that on the days she remembers to do the “mirror magic” it is a much better day.

I’m inspired that the magic of my book is having a positive impact on my daughter and granddaughter.

Would you like to support your children, grandchildren, and friends with self-trust and joy?Anessa’s Gift can help you do that. You can get the novel at Amazon.com and start your own magic. I’d be glad to help you and your family with their own process as well.

 Margot Hawk is a parent coach and can be reached for personal session at parentcoaching.org

 

http://www.amazon.com/Anessas-Gift-Margot-Penny-Hawk/dp/074142570X/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1461596387&sr=8-1

Snow Days!

Snow Days!

It’s winter time, which means that we are often glued to the weather reports trying to plan our schedule around snow storms that close schools or cancel appointments.

What do you do when the weather traps you indoors with children all day long? As tempting as it may be, there are other things than movie marathons or hours of tablet games. Here are some of my favorite ways of spending time with children. Can you add to our list?

1. Charades. Make up your own rules for this classic game. For younger children, have them imitate an animal and guess what animal they are. Older children can act out a favorite activity, such as going to the beach, or swimming. Tweens can enjoy acting out book or movie titles.

2. Cooking. Snow days are perfect for creative cooking. Check out the refrigerator and see what ingredients you could put into omelets or pancakes. Bake cookies and plan to take them to a neighbor. Plan a meal using only food that you already have – no going to the store for ingredients. It’s a great idea to completely empty the pantry and reorganize it. Have the kids alphabetize the spices and check the expiration dates on canned goods.

3. Have a “snowball” fight. (Warning – only do this in a room that contains no breakables! A garage or basement is perfect.) Pull the newspapers out of the recycle bin and wad the pages up into small balls. This is especially fun to cover the floor with wadded newspaper and “shovel” a path through the “snow”. Use your imagination. Of course, this has to end with putting all of the balls back into the recycle bin and hopping directly into the bathtub to clean the newsprint off of hands and faces.

4. Crafts. Snow days are perfect for getting out craft supplies and using your imagination. Make sculptures out of strips of construction paper. (I once saw an incredible helicopter made by a 4-year-old.) Make a collage of words or pictures cut from magazines. Build doll house furniture or buildings from cardboard, thread spools, or other “found” objects. Save craft kits bought on sale at dollar stores or craft stores in a “Snow Day” box.

Of course, it is always fun to play board games, card games, or get out a jigsaw puzzle. Reading books in front of the fire place makes for great memories. The main thing is to spend a good part of the day WITH your kids, not just keeping them entertained in a different room while you pursue adult activities in another room. You deserve a play day, too.

Adolescence: What Happened to my Happy Child?

by Linda Ray Miller

Mother Nature plays a cruel trick on parents. You get past the toilet training, the tantrums that occur because of a lack of vocabulary, and the clinginess of toddlers just learning to explore the world on their own, and you wind up with a fairly easy-going, fun-loving child. You can start to have real conversations about important matters, and you delight in the things that your child is learning and experiencing. Then, just as you relax and think that you’ve got this parenting thing down cold, BOOM! Adolescence strikes.

Suddenly, your easy-going child is a suspicious, angry, sullen teenager. They have incredible mood swings that make you suspect bi-polar disorder, and they stop talking to you about everything that is going on in their life. What is going on? What should a compassionate parent do?

What’s Happening to My Body?

First of all, adolescence brings about tremendous changes in your child’s body, that may cause them to become very self-conscious. Their body grows taller, sometimes out of proportion to their weight. The effects of puberty set in with hair growth, menstruation, changes in their voice, acne, and muscle development. Because they are so aware of their body and the changes going on, they assume everyone else is focused on them, too. They develop what is called “the spotlight syndrome”, where they move through life confident that everyone in the world is looking at them and judging how their body is developing.

Make sure you are open and honest with your children about their bodies and their development. The more “matter of fact” and the less “shocked” you are about their questions, the better. As much as you can, simply listen to them. The best gift you can give to your children is a listening, non-judgmental ear.

What’s Happening to My Brain?

Adolescence also brings on an explosion of brain cells as the child-like brain develops into a fully-functioning adult brain. This development takes 10-12 years. Scientists believe that the adult brain is not fully functional until about age 24-25.

The young adolescent is controlled by the part of the brain called the amygdala. This part of the brain is primarily concerned with survival. It closely watches the environment for any sign of danger. It triggers the “fight, flight, or freeze” response at any perceived threat.

The amygdala is reactive, impulsive, and instinctive. When the amygdala is in control, you really do believe everyone is out to get you. So you lash out (fight), push away (flight), or retreat inside your shell (freeze). This is normal teenaged behavior.

All this does not mean that amygdala-driven behavior is appropriate or desirable. Of course not! It will keep you alive, but will not help you form the attachments and connections so necessary to adult living. But it helps to recognize these behaviors for what they are – a response to feeling out of control.

Slowly, another part of your brain is developing: the prefrontal cortex. This section of your brain is located right behind the forehead and is responsible for interpretation and planning. While the amygdala is reactive and impulsive, the pre-frontal cortex is calm and logical. The pre-frontal cortex can interpret facial signals and helps you figure out whether you are truly in danger or not. It can help you plan responses that will keep you safe and in harmony with those around you.

So, What’s a Parent to Do?

First of all, recognize that teenage flare-ups are perfectly normal and rarely have anything to do with you. Do NOT take them seriously! When your child is calm, and all is right with the world, take the time to explain what is going on with their body and their brain. Assure them that you will be there with them, and when they explode because of an overactive amygdala, you will be there for them, still loving them, still guiding them, but letting them develop into the wonderful unique human being that they were born to be. Help them learn to apologize when their actions are not helpful, and celebrate as you notice signs of maturity developing. Above all, keep a sense of humor and a sense of your self intact. Put a sign on your mirror where you will see it every day: “It’s just a phase.” You will survive it.

Linda Ray Miller is a Parent Coach based in Nashville, Tennessee.

How To Teach Your Kid to Ride a Bike Without Losing YOUR Balance

Learning to ride a bike is one of the milestones of childhood. Good or bad, it leaves an impression.

What can you do to help your child remember it as a time of learning the good stuff – you know how to make mistakes and perservere anyway, be gentle but firm with themselves, learn a new skill with help from a mentor, be able to ask for help and get it, try something new that they aren’t good at and still feel good about themselves.

Let’s face it. No one looks good when they are learning to ride a bike. OK maybe there is one kid in a hundred and he lives down the street from you. He’s 3 years old and already doing pedaling 20 mph past your house on his two wheeler while his dad beams at him and casually asks you “Don’t you just love watching your kid ride a bike?”

You smile and nod but inside you’re wondering when your 8 year old will learn to ride and if you can teach him without your neighbor noticing. You excuse yourself to find young Chris and get him  on a bike today.

Pause right here. You already know this isn’t going to go well. You want your kid to learn to ride a bike so you look good. Not a good reason.

Wait for signs of readiness. Help create those signs through having a bike friendly culture in your home. Ride your own bike. Ride your bike instead of taking the car or watching TV. When your child is young, get a tag-a-long trailer.

Want to make it a great experience for you and your child? Follow these tips.

Tip 1: Look Backwards
What did you learn when you learned to ride a bike? What message did you take in? Was it fun, exhilarating, scary, traumatic? Do you want to do everything you can to help your child do the same thing or avoid it at all costs?

Tip 2: Get Real
Honestly notice your experience then say to yourself “This is my child. They are not me. They will have their own experience. It is not mine. I can neither make them have an experience like mine nor protect them from having an experience like mine.” Take time to listen to the parts of you that are insisting that this is about you. Then don’t take it out on your child.

Tip 3: Celebrate Mistakes
I can use this as an opportunity to celebrate mistakes. Especially for type A parents used to being right and getting it right (or for kids of that personality), it is good to learn that making mistakes is how we learn.

Tip 4: Small Doses
Fifteen minutes or less usually works well for most children when learning a new skill. Don’t cut it short if they are having a great time, but keep an eye out for gentle transitions. Pushing until they are tired and fall over is not your goal. Stop while everyone feels successful. If it takes a half hour to get ready, drive to the park, put on the helmet knee pads and elbow guards and work out for a short time, focussing on a single skill (see Tip 5 below).

Tip 5: Work on the Foundational Skills
What does it take to ride a bike? Balance, coordination, confidence, strength, the ability to reach the pedals and handlebars. You can’t do much besides adjust the fit of the bike to get your kid to reach the pedals and handlebars but you can create environments where they learn the skills of biking without being on a bike. Put a rope on the floor and have them walk on it for coordination and balance. Play hand clapping games for coordination. Run, walk, jump on a trampoline, and play for strength and coordination.

Children also need to know that not everyone looks good, gets it right on the first try or “wins”. Help them celebrate mistakes and falling down before you get on a bike and they will have a far easier time.

And above all, if it’s not fun, DON’T DO IT!

Kassandra Brown is a coach based in Boulder, CO.

Bedtime Routines That Work!

One of the most stressful times in any parent’s life is bedtime (second only to waking-up-and-getting-out-the-door time). Is it too much to ask if a child will just peacefully go to bed and go to sleep when the clock tells them to? Well… yes.

Our bodies are naturally programmed to go to sleep after a number of hours of activity. The active hours are 2 to 4 for newborns, and grow to anywhere to 6 to 10 hours by the time they are a year old. They seem to max out at about 16 hours in adulthood and start to decrease again as we enter old age.

So, if our bodies are naturally sleepy, why can’t our children just fall to sleep? Unfortunately, their systems are hard-wired for safety. A child left alone in the wild is a child in danger. So, an infant will cry when it is left alone. Children who are left to “cry-it-out” sometimes become more fearful and clingy as they grow. Children who grow up sleeping with their parents are sometimes more secure in their attachment and have an easier time separating from their parents as they grow.

Older children resist bedtime, because they want to keep on being active and having fun. They may feel like parents have a party once the children are in bed, and they don’t want to miss out. They also associate later bedtimes with growing up, and they want to hurry the process along.

Sample Bedtime Routine

The key to a successful bedtime routine is the word “routine”. Every bedtime should be virtually the same. However, the routine will vary widely from house to house. What works in one family may not go so well in another one. Here is a sample bedtime routine:

  • 2 hours before sleep: Give the half-hour warning: “It’s time to pick up our toys and get ready for bed.” Join in with the children in their clean up. Make a game out of it – set a time for 3 minutes and see if you can get the blocks in their bin before the timer goes off. Set the timer again for another toy set.
  • 1 ½ hours before sleep: Brush Teeth (adults and children together) while the bath water is running. Then have the children take a nice warm bath.
  • 1 hour before sleep: Read books. Have a pre-determined number of books to read so that the children do not beg for additional books. Make sure the books are conducive to sleep. (No action-packed thrillers.) Practice using a monotonous, drowsy voice as you read.
  • ½ hour before sleep: Climb into bed with them and cuddle. Talk about their day (continuing to use your drowsy voice). If it is your custom, say a prayer thanking God for all their blessings. Turn on music or an audio book to help relax and calm your child. If possible, stay with them until they fall naturally to sleep.

What Time Should They Go to Bed?

This is a difficult question, because it is different for every child. The best way to establish a good bedtime is to have a set waking up time. Get up at the same time every morning, and notice when the child becomes sleepy. Some children can stay awake until 9:00 and still wake up at 6:30 naturally. Other children need an earlier bedtime to be functional at that time of the morning.

And here is the bad news: It is healthiest for everyone concerned if you stick to the same wake-up time, even on weekends and holidays. This is not to say you NEVER get to sleep in, but your natural circadian rhythms have a harder time when you change times often.

And What About Adult Time?

The good news is that most children do sleep longer than adults do. But only an hour or two. It is very important that you continue to have bonding time with your spouse or partner, if you have one. It is also necessary that we all have some “alone” time during the day. But recognize that these times are hard to come by with small children, so treasure them when they happen. Try not to use up this valuable time with mindless activity like television, or stimulating activity like housework or laundry. Studies have shown that probably the worst thing you can do for restful sleep is to watch television news right before bed. Instead, read a book, cuddle with a partner to talk about your day, or just relax with an adult beverage as you listen to the night sounds.

Naturally, this all sounds great, but will it work in real life? Maybe, maybe not. As I said earlier, what works in one family will not work in another. What works one day may not work in another. But the key is in setting a routine and allowing enough time to see it through. And following a routine when possible will help the whole family develop healthy sleep habits.

Linda Ray Miller is a Parent Coach based in Nashville, TN.

Why Don’t We Ask For What We Want and What We Do Instead (it’s not pretty so let’s change it!)

I teach workshops on consent, boundaries, and touch. Whether the context is for parents, business, or romance I love helping people learn to ask for what they want in clear and respectful ways. My participants are often surprised at how hard it is to ask for what they want yet also empowered once they do.

About half-way through the workshop, we’ll do an exercise where I ask people to share with me all the reasons why they don’t ask for what they want, why they don’t set boundaries, and (the game-changer) what they do instead.

The following is a verbatim list from one workshop. In reading them, you may notice that shame and fear of rejection are stated over and over again with slight variations for both “why we don’t ask for what we want” and “why we don’t set boundaries“. Both actions involve speaking up for ourselves and possibly disappointing someone else. Challenging stuff.  It’s no wonder that our reasons for not doing each are similar.

What we do instead” is a humbling view of ourselves.

The first time I did this exercise in Betty Martin’s Like a Pro workshop, the list of “what we do instead” is what brought it all together for me. I realized that I became my least favorite version of myself – passive aggressive, resentful, feeling like I don’t belong, feeling not good enough – when I didn’t ask for what I want and when I didn’t set clear boundaries.

The moment I realized that my failure to own my desires and boundaries was causing me to become my least favorite version of myself, my world changed. I suddenly had a clear road map for being a “me” I like and respect. That road map? Asking for what I want plus setting and keeping clear and authentic boundaries.

And since I’m someone who just can’t keep good things to myself, I’m helping all my clients learn these skills too. They are much easier to practice when someone is cheering you on and keeping you accountable. I’m happy to do that for you!

Why we dont ask for what we want:
  • fear of rejection
  • fear of disappointment
  • fear of punishment
  • fear of feeling hopeless if you dont get it
  • shame (for having needs or wants)
  • dont know what I want
  • there are a limited number of asks – dont waste them
  • it’s not okay (asking means I’m selfish which is wrong)
  • I dont want to be “high maintenance” and make others give beyond their ability or willingness
  • real men dont have needs
  • weakness
  • not trusting other’s boundaries/fear of what happens if they say yes
  • I might not like the answer (no, or a boundary)
  • if I hear “yes” it means I need to be worthy of the gift
  • I might owe something in exchange/strings attached
Why we dont set boundaries: 
  • fear of loss (I’ll lose the good thing I’m getting if I ask for something even better)
  • fear of being shamed for having a boundary
  • fear of being judged as selfish (by self or others)
  • Dont know what they are
  • Pointless (they won’t be respected anyway)
  • fear of being “high maintenance”
  • I want to be liked/accepted and seen as easy to get along with
  • not wanting to use my big voice – easy to be small and not draw attention to myself
  • lack of self-worth “there’s nothing worth protecting here”
What we do instead:
  • blame them  and pick a fight 
  • hint
  • resent/get pissy
  • get really quiet/pull away
  • stop giving
  • stuff it (food, alcohol, drugs, crazy-busy)
  • ask for something safer (what you think you can get)
  • create bad art
  • Give them what you want
  • distractify/sublimate
  • try to figure out what’s wrong with me and become a better person
  • cry/yell about it
  • blame self as not worthy anyway
  • endure
  • play victim
 If it’s setting boundaries and asking for what we want that stops us from “what we do instead” then fantastic! Let’s do the hard work of rewiring our brains for pleasure, owning our own desires, articulating them clearly and respectfully, and learning how to hear “no” with gratitude. Nobody (including me) said it was easy, but it’s worth it.
Want more? Reach out for a free half-hour consultation with me. We’ll spend most of the time talking about your goals, desires, and boundaries. Then if I feel like I can truly support you in reaching your goals, I’ll invite you to become a client. I work with clients over phone and Skype unless you are in the Boulder/Denver, CO area in which case you can choose to work in-person if you prefer.
Kassandra Brown is a coach based in Boulder, CO.

Working Moms: Prioritization and Flexibility Are Keys to Your Happy Family

Working moms often get pegged as having guilt over working instead of staying home with their children. However according to a study by Harvard Business School, children of working moms are more likely to be employed, hold supervisor positions, and earn higher wages than those of stay-at-home moms. Moms in general want their children to be successful and healthy, but working moms also must deal with the added stress of trying to balance out their careers with raising children. However,many working mothers fail to realize that the real key to balance is learning to cut down on your own responsibilities in order to have a rewarding career and home life.

  1.         Learn to Let Go of Guilt – The guilt of not being able to spend time with their children can often overwhelm working mothers. However, focusing more on what you do provide for your children over what you are not providing can help ease the feeling of guilt. Although it may not be easy at first, learning to concentrate on what working can provide for your children can help overcome feeling guilty. Long hours at work can be difficult to get through but knowing that your hard work is helping to provide your children with opportunities such as a good education,opportunities for learning outside of school such as extracurriculars or tutoring, trips to educational sites, and other educational services can make all the time spent worth it.
  2.         Flexibility Is In –  Another way to help ease the guilt of working instead of spending time with your children is to change to a more flexible schedule. Too often working mothers forget that they do have options when it comes to the hours they work. Never think you are not allowed to ask for a more flexible schedule that could benefit not only your family life but also your work ethic. Long working hours are strain not just for you, but also for your family.
  3.         Prioritize Goals – A flexible schedule does mean learning to prioritize short-term goals versus long-term goals. Goal-setting can help you see if a more flexible schedule is feasible to accomplish what you set out to do. Coming up with goal plans also can help you learn to prioritize what tasks are important to get done while working and what can be held off in order to lessen your work hours. Cutting back on hours at work does not mean getting behind on deadlines, instead it is about learning to prioritize and be more productive. In fact, most mothers who cut back at work end up happier not just with their family lives but also with their careers.
  4. Make Time For Yourself – Above all an important way to keep yourself sane while working and raising children is to make time for yourself. Part of teaching your children balance is to teach them to take care of themselves both physically and mentally. This might seem simple enough but remember making time for yourself means asking your children and spouse to leave you alone for some time. It also means learning to disconnect from your work phone or email. This can be difficult as we tend to always be on “auto mode” when it comes to work and family routines. However, remember you cannot be an effective parent or be mindful of how well your child is doing in school if you are always tense or cranky. Giving yourself time to recharge is essential and also shows your child the importance of mental health as well as how to let go of stress.
  5.   Set Up a Schedule – Setting up a schedule for yourself might seem like an obvious task but going as far to even schedule “me-time” can help you with prioritizing. When you schedule personal life tasks such as going to the movies with your kids or playtime can make family time a priority. You are more likely to stick to and be present in the moment when you have set it as an event.

Working moms might sometimes feel guilty for not being able to spend more time with their children. However, their dedication to their careers and family can help teach their children important life skills that can help them be successful in their own lives. Being a parent is often all about being a balancing act.

Amy Williams

Opening to the Magic of Our Children

What gifts to our kids offer us? They give us the path and the practice to growing up into the adults, the parents, the human beings we know we can be. Our children not only show us the way, they make it nearly impossible to turn away from it.

It’s an amazing gift. But it’s often wrapped in behavior that looks like disrespect, disruption, acting out, tantrums, and tears.

How do we receive that gift? With anger and resistance or with grace and acceptance? We often need support to unwrap and receive the gifts especially if friends, doctors, or teachers are telling us we need to get our kids to behave like potted plants (decorative but not disruptive).

What if our children are the teachers we’ve been looking for? What if we are the parents our children need more than they need anything else? What if you were a brilliant, capable, and trustworthy parent? You are! If you don’t believe me, set up a time to talk to one of our talented parent coaches.

Parenting coaching isn’t about telling you what to do to change your kids. It’s about changing your attitude towards parenting, towards your children, and towards your own happiness in ways that make your life work. Simple? Yes. Easy? It can be. Most of what’s challenging is our own resistance to change.

My coaches and I love helping you through your resistance. So reach out and and let’s get started!

The Difference Between Competency-Based and Personalized Learning

When you consider that a mere one-quarter of public high school graduates in the United States possess the necessary skills to do well academically during post-secondary studies, it becomes more apparent that different learning models are needed to meet the needs of different students.

A hybrid of hands-on instruction plus technology works better than leaving kids alone to learn from computers.
A hybrid of hands-on instruction plus technology works better than leaving kids alone to learn from computers.

Competency-based and personalized learning are two popular models that can be used in the classroom, and both can facilitate learning. While an obsession with standards can potentially snuff out the love of learning, competency-based and personalized learning can have a positive impact when teachers use them to customize programs to meet the specific needs of students.

What follows is an overview of competency-based and personalized learning, a comparison and contrast of these two popular learning models, and a look at what these two models mean for teachers and administrators.

Competency-Based Learning

The traditional school format usually requires students to complete course requirements within a set time frame, and their grades are supposed to reflect their performance during the semester or course. However, with competency-based training, students, rather than being graded for how much actual time they spend in the classroom, are rewarded for the skills they obtain. The key thing is that it focuses on ensuring that all students gain a thorough understanding of the subject matter. Students who do not usually do well in a more structured learning environment, may thrive as they get to learn at their own pace. In fact, the set-you-own pace nature of competency-based learning lends itself to students who choose to study online rather than in an actual classroom.

Personalized Learning

Personalized learning is very much student-centric in that it is tailored to meet the specific needs of students’ strengths, personal interests, and requirements. The curriculum in such a learning model factors into the equation things like the students’ existing knowledge base, abilities, and skills as well as establishes high expectations and encourages students to achieve their personal objectives. With personalized learning, the goal is to have students advance once they’ve shown an extensive knowledge and understanding of the subject matter.

difference-competence2

Compare & Contrast

There are numerous points to look at when comparing and contrasting competency-based and personalized learning. Some of the more notable points are as follows:

Transition: Both models provide a way to help students move away from a curriculum that places emphasis on time spent in a class to a curriculum that favors the sort of flexibility that helps students to move forward either by showing mastery of the subject matter or by selecting a learning path most conducive to their needs.
Academic Focus: With competency-based learning, the focus is on allowing students to progress only after they’ve demonstrated thorough understanding of the subject matter. With personalized learning, the focus is on using students’ learning style to create personalized learning programs using specifically selected assignments, material, and projects.
Technology: Both of these learning models are most effective when used in combination with technology solutions that permit teachers to augment their curriculum. In this digital age, classrooms can be equipped with mobile devices, broadband Internet access, smartboards, and more, and these tools can both facilitate students’ learning experience and permit teachers to meet the varied needs of students.

What it Means for Teachers and Administrators

Teachers can employ competency-based and personalized learning methods to accomplish their mandate to instruct students. The following Q&A will shed light on how teachers and administrators can benefit:

Q: Han can teachers use either competency-based or personalized learning in existing classrooms?

A: One of the benefits for teachers who want to make use of competency-based and personalized learning for their students is that the process does not necessarily require an overhaul of what they already have in place. Rather, they can use competency-based and personalized learning strategies in order to customize their existing curriculum or program after reflecting on the various needs of the students in their class. As was mentioned previously, technology available during his digital age — mobile devices, smartboards, and high-speed Internet — are tools that teachers can use to meet the various needs of the students in their classrooms.
Q: What’s the incentive for overworked teachers or administrators to implement something new?
The incentive for teachers or administrators to implement something new is that going this route will help them to achieve positive student outcomes — and it will help teachers and administrators to accomplish this objective more ably than would be the case with an inflexible curriculum. Put another way, even though an investment in technology may be required, the effort to implement something new would give teachers better opportunities to meet the needs of students, which would likely lead to better academic outcomes for students.

Q: If a teacher wanted to do this, how would he or she go about it?

A: There are various steps that can be taken to implement competency-based and personalized learning. The following are some of the general steps that should be taken:

1. Administrators and teachers need to be on board and to take responsibility for the program in terms of development and rollout.

2. Teachers should conduct assessments to determine which students need competency-based or personalized learning options.

3. Teachers need to figure out how to implement these models into their existing curriculums so that the students who need competency-based or personalized learning options can get it.

4. Administrators and teachers need to explain to students and their parents about the different learning models and about how they will help students to do better academically.

5. Assessments need to be performed post-rollout to ensure that the desired student outcomes are being achieved and that the curriculums are meeting the needs of those being taught.

The traditional curriculum has proven to be insufficient at helping many students to acquire the skills they need going forward after high school. Competency-based and personalized learning are useful learning models that be used to customize programs to facilitate the education process.

Author Bio: Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety.

Amy Williams