development

Five Fabulous Quotes from Women Who Shaped Development

In honor of International Women's Day on March 8th, we want to share five of our favorite quotes from women who shape development or shaped the development of others in their lifetime.  We hope you enjoy!

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Why Coaching is Important

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In the world of Behavior Analysis, we follow a professional code which guides our performance while working in the field.  Part of this performance describes working within the realm of our competency and training, maintaining our competence through professional development, and supervising others in the field as they gain their credential.

While obtaining my BCBA credential, I had to gain 1500 hours of supervision while working in the field, with 75 of those hours being directly supervised by a supervisory BCBA (this description is not approved or endorsed by the BACB.  Go to www.bacb.com for more information on the BCBA credential).  During this time, I was directly coached by my BCBA mentor as I learned new skills to gain competence in the field.  Post-BCBA certification, this coaching is no longer required, except in instances where there is a behavior change procedure needed where a BCBA is not trained in the protocol.  This training can be acquired through professional development and consultation.

During the course of my certification, I have looked to models outside of our field to gain coaching experience rather than traditional lecture based models of professional development, and have become involved in a few behavior analytic coaching groups that foster training and professional development within our field.  I have found that personally, the models that foster peer interaction, and direct feedback and mentorship from a coach, have developed my skills better than the traditional professional development model of "training."  I think that more research needs to be done to evaluate the effectiveness of these models of professional development overall, but as a personal anecdote, this has been very helpful in developing my skills as a leader and behavior analyst.  As another benefit, these coaching groups have also provided me with peer support.  Sometimes in the field we operate alone, or as executives we find it difficult to connect with individuals that are our direct reports, so these groups have provided social reinforcement as well!

Interested in learning more about Coaching?  Shaping Development developed these groups in the form of our BCBA Supervision and Behavioral Leadership Coaching Groups.

Feel free to check it out!  We hope we can help you shape your development!

 

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Two Ways to Make Your Job Feel Like a Vacation

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Dirty Heads,""Vacation""*

I am obsessed with this song.  

This song got me thinking, though.  So many of us, whether we are teachers, parents, or business leaders do not love our occupation.  Why is this?  What are the environmental variables that effect our performance, or "satisfaction" in our occupation?

I think it is the classification of reinforcement that effects our behavior.  If we attend our occupation (though we may not find it motivating or enjoyable), there is something reinforcing our behavior of at least attending to it every day.  I recently surveyed students in my current undergraduate course about why they think people attend their job everyday, even though they may dislike it.  Their answers varied in content, but had the same theme.  Most stated that avoiding the "loss of the job" or "loss of pay" would be why most people continue to attend their job.  In behavior analysis, this is what we would refer to as negative reinforcement. (For more on this see: Behaviorspeak: A Glossary of Terms in Applied Behavior Analysis by Bobby Newman*)

When I surveyed them again as to why they thought people attend their job, who "love their occupation," they stated that people who enjoy their job do it because they "enjoy the  work that they do," or "like how much they get paid."  These statements, would lead me to believe that those who love their occupation find working positively reinforced by internal or external positive feedback, or by gaining compensation.

Once I sorted out the consequences surrounding the two groups of people: those that love their job, and those that hate it, I started to think of potential additional environmental variables that could also effect performance in various occupations.  I reflected on my own work experience in this.

I have worked since I was 13 years old in various jobs and places of employment.  Some jobs I absolutely loved (disclaimer: though I left to take on new projects, I still loved them), and some were not a good fit.  In thinking back on the antecedents that were present in the environment for the jobs I loved versus the jobs I disliked, I was able to come up with two environmental variables that effected my satisfaction.  

1) System Automation

In the jobs I loved, the environments had streamlined processes with systems to automate workflow, so I could be free to spend more time thinking creatively and creating new projects than completing repetitive tasks.  In the jobs I disliked, the environments were often chaotic with limited processes or systems present to aid in workflow.  Tasks were presented with little instruction on how to perform those tasks.

2) Feedback

Feedback (though not always positive) was effective and provided often.  These environments allowed me to shape my own development, and to learn new skills.  In the jobs I disliked, feedback was limited when those tasks were performed.  I did not learn new skills when in these positions.

Looking back, I could have easily changed those environments by thinking of ways to help automate my workflow, and seek feedback and instruction elsewhere if I did not find it within the environment of the job, so I could have taken those opportunities to learn new skills.  I could have changed the environment, and maybe enjoyed the work a little more.  If this didn't work, I could have sought work elsewhere, which is what happened anyway, so I had nothing to lose in trying.

As educators, parents, and business leaders, we are tasked with creating environments that shape the development of those we teach, raise, or lead.  It is also important, that we also create environments that shape our own development, so that we can also "love our occupations."  Instead of spending time and energy hating our job, we can all find ways to change the environment to find joy in our work.

*Please Note: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. 

 

 

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How Practicing Mindfulness Can Shape Development

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The practice of mindful meditation has recently been very much publicized in the news and the interwebs lately, and for good reason.  In fact, I recently did an online search at a bookstore for the topic and it came up with 2,231 search results for book topics and related material!

Practicing these behaviors have been shown through empirically validated research to reduce stress and anxiety, and increase emotion regulation and focus (Davis & Hayes, 2011).  Steven Hayes also provides support for the practice of mindfulness within Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, an empirically validated intervention, which exists within the one of its six tenets: "Being Present (Hayes, 2004)." (see also  Acceptance and Commitment Therapy)* With the benefit of modern technology, the practices of mindfulness and meditation are no longer accessible to those traveling to far off places who participate in retreats or structured classes, as many applications and books provide support in the practice, teaching beginners and advanced learners.

I have to be honest, I was incredibly resistant to engage in mindful meditation.  However, as a highly (self-proclaimed) anxious individual, I read countless articles proclaiming its benefit  to increase productivity and decrease anxiety and stress...so I decided to give it a try.

I started to notice a difference in my thinking and reactive behavior after the first week, though I'll be honest, and I almost gave up after the first or second session.  I scheduled time first thing in the morning to block off five minutes where I would sit in silence and "practice" mindful meditation.  I focused on my breathing, and tried to simply "notice" my thoughts.  The first two sessions were a disaster, and my thinking just kept racing at quick speeds about everything I needed to do that day in my business.  The third day, I was on the verge of giving up, when it finally clicked. One of the practices of mindfulness, advises people to think of a metaphor of a "Passenger on a Bus," to practice noticing your thoughts.  In this metaphor, the person practicing meditation imagines that they are a passenger on a bus, and all the thoughts and feelings present in the mind, pass by out a window as if you are a "passenger on a bus."  As soon as I visualized that scenario, I was able to think more on my breathing, and react less to the thoughts and feelings occurring.  By the end of the first week, I already saw a difference in my thinking and reacting to stressful situations.  By the end of the second week, I was able to stretch the practice time to 20 minutes instead of just 5 minutes.

As a skill set, practicing mindfulness, shown through both research and my own experience, has allowed myself and others to access more information, focus on work, and reduce stressful thinking practices.  If all leaders: teachers, parents, and business executives learned to practice this skill, and then in turn teach the skill to those they lead, we could all develop new ways to combat stress and anxiety in our daily lives!

*Please Note: We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. 

References:

Hayes, S.C (2004). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and the new behavior therapies: Mindfulness, acceptance and relationship. In S. C. Hayes, V. M. Follette, & M. Linehan (Eds.), Mindfulness and acceptance: Expanding the cognitive behavioral tradition (pp. 1-29). New York: Guilford.

Davis, D.M & Hayes, J.A.(2011) What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness A Practice Review of Psychotherapy-Related Research. Psychotherapy 48(2) p 198-208

 

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