We all have the “shelf of shame”…the shelf in our offices that houses the dusty collection of folders and handouts we eagerly collect when we attend conferences and trainings. We also probably have a similar shelf in our brains…a folder in the back of our heads where we store the information we were so excited about learning but quickly forgot about after we returned back to the real world of intervention visits, phone calls, emails, and meetings.
The big question is, then: How do we avoid the shelf of shame and exercise what we’ve learned?
Here are 3 simple ways to help you use it…or lose it to the shelf of shame!
COMMIT to Trying Out What You Learned on Your NEXT Visit
Were you thinking of a particular child or family when you heard that great new info or idea? Plot out how you’re going to use what you learned with that family, then do it. Write down your plan before the visit, then reflect on how you used this new info in the contact note. Next week, try it out with two more families. Keep growing and trying out what you now know!
POST a Reminder Where You Will See It
Tack a handout or a quote from the training up on your bulletin board. Write a reminder about the practice you want to use in your calendar. If you learned about new practices with a group of colleagues, post reminders around the office, above the copy machine, in the bathrooms (great place – on the back of the stall doors), in the staff kitchen (put a reminder IN the frig – they won’t be able to miss it!). Don’t just put the info on the shelf of shame – use it as a visual reminder of your commitment to using what you learned!
SHARE What You Learned With Others
Take something you learned during the training or conference and share it with your colleagues. Do a mini-presentation at a staff meeting. Make copies of your notes and pass them around. Have a discussion about the new practice at each staff meeting for the next month. Teach what you learned to the parents you work with next week. Re-teaching is a great way to cement something in your brain!
So dust off that shelf of shame and retool it as a Shelf of Success! We all tend to fall back into our old practices even after we’ve learned a better way of doing things. Evolving your practice as an early interventionist takes time, effort, and commitment. I love this quote from Brorson (2005) (PDF, New Window):
“Change in the case of early intervention is perpetual learning.”
To do what we do best, it’s not enough to just attend trainings or read a journal article now and then. We have to use what we learn by actively adapting our practices and evolving our beliefs. Learning is exciting…using what you learn and seeing a new success is even better!
How do you make sure that what you learn doesn’t end up on the shelf of shame? What strategies do you use to keep your practices current?
Here are just a few of the great resources out there for learning about recommended EI practices you can USE (and not lose!):
7 Key Principles: Looks Like/Doesn’t Look Like – Guidance Document (PDF, New Window)
Can you suggest others? Please share them below in the comments!