By Samantha Chaulklin, a member of the SkillCorps Kenya October 2017 team
When you think of how to run an ABA program, you have a set idea and plan in your head. It can be difficult to hear that there may be another way to teach the skill. However when we consult with partner sites it’s important to consider the ideas of those that are working at the center. Ultimately, this is their center, and they know that best ways to teach their clients. That all makes sense. The challenge is combining your interests and theirs in a way that will be sustainable so that these ideas expand across the rest of the staff. This is the middle ground; that middle ground is where our ideas, their ideas, and sustainability meet up to become SkillCorps.
My most memorable experience of this process is when I consulted as a group and 1:1 with staff about revamping Circle Time. The staff sought out SkillCorps because they saw that Circle Time for the advanced learners was not age appropriate or serving the needs of the kids. Immediately, the team was excited to help out. In particular, I, as a former Circle Time leader, had at least 1000 ideas of how to help restructure the class.
The first day, we observed the current structure of the Circle Time class. After observing and comparing our notes, we met with Pooja (the director of Kaizora) and the Circle Time leader. During this meeting, Pooja told us her exact ideas of how she would like to structure Circle Time. The leader then inserted her own visions of where to take the class. Yet there was still a missing component, how to engage all of the students at once. This is when I suggested a journal page for the kids to fill out the name, date, theme of the week, etc… The idea inspired more ideas for the leader. We scheduled a 1:1 meeting to work together to talk more about the structure.
Again, I took the passenger seat in this meeting. I took notes on her ideas and merged it with my own experience to create an outline. I gave her the outline and she got to work on the product. She then took the product to Pooja, who approved it.
The next day, I followed up to see what she had made. It was perfect. She had taken all the ideas we had come up with, the outline, and the specific needs of the kids and created a journal book for the kids to work on greetings, personal information, calendar skills, concepts of time, and “WH” questions. The journal will be done each day in class and will have parts to be completed at home as well. The goal is to fade the directions with time to make it into a typical journal activity (a diary).
That is the beauty of SkillCorps. You sit in the passenger seat, provide help when asked, and watch as the plan comes to fruition and grows to be bigger and better than originally imagined.