Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Workshop Development Continues

Since my last blog post, I have moved forward on creating my workshop. My mom and my aunt Louise gave me some great advice about dealing with my disappointment. My sister believed in me and gave me a confidence boost when I most needed it. I also received some wonderfully supportive comments on my last post and on Facebook and that helped tremendously.

I decided to forge ahead and get on with the next assignment: putting together the workshop's structured lessons. Two days later I met with my teacher. I showed her what I had put together thus far and found out I had gotten it wrong - again! She went over what she was looking for and then I felt like I understood where I had gone off track and what I needed to do instead. I was also very surprised to learn that my grade had been one of the four top ones in our class and that no one had received an A. That made me feel a lot better. Because spring break was coming and we would not meet again until the assignment was due, the teacher said to email her with any follow up questions.

The next day I met with my academic adviser to discuss registering for the next semester's class. I happened to mention what had occurred with my last assignment and my adviser told me to drop the class right away. She said it was not worth it for me to put so much time and energy into my work and not see it reflected in my grade. To her surprise, I told her I was going to stick it out. I felt hopeful again that I could see this through and maybe even get a good grade in the end.

That night I sent my teacher a third revision of the wording of my workshop objectives because she had not been satisfied with them when we met. Naturally, I did not say anything about what my adviser had said. Imagine my surprise and satisfaction when I received the following reply: Now we're talking. Yes, excellent. Those objectives are right on the money. You are so good, I wish you were in [a different program that she runs]. Frankly, I was shocked. I had certainly not thought she felt that way about me after the last two grades I received.

The next good thing that happened to me was I contacted Karen Putz and Gael Hannan for permission to quote from their writing in my workshop and they both said yes. I still have more writing to do on my lessons, but I feel like this workshop is coming together and will be complete in time for my class deadline. Then, I will be presenting it live three days later.

Thank you to everyone who has been supportive of me on this project.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Creating a Communication Training Workshop

This semester I am taking a class called Communication Training. As part of the class, we are required to do some actual training. I thought I would share with you what I plan to do and how the plans for my communication workshop have been coming along.

The topic I selected was "How to Communicate Effectively with Adults Who Have Hearing Loss". I've attended various hearing loss related workshops and this training opportunity seemed like a good way for me to pull together information from some of the resources I have found through writing this blog. My target audience is people who do NOT have a hearing loss themselves which makes it different from any workshop I have attended. In addition, one of my primary goals is for the participants to experience what hearing loss is like to increase their understanding of the listening challenges involved.

I have been blessed to have some support for my workshop planning. My church, Amazing Love of Frankfort, Illinois will allow me to use their facility for the workshop at no charge. My local hearing loss support group, ALDA Chicago, sponsored my workshop as one of their events once I agreed to make it equally accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing. That was an aha moment for me when I realized that in my focus on my target audience, I had overlooked the importance of accessibility. You see I still have much to learn. Fortunately, a captioner has agreed to donate her services to make CART captioning available for my event. In addition, a group member is driving more than an hour to attend with two guests and she has offered to bring homemade cookies as well. When I read her email, I wanted to cry. It really touched my heart to have that gesture of support.

Following the curriculum for my course, I was required to conduct a needs assessment to determine the content of my workshop. This was a new experience for me. I conducted a survey of people with hearing loss, two surveys of people without hearing loss (one for those who had a close connection with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing and the other for those without that association), and two interviews with audiologists.

My key findings were that hearing people are unaware of

  • the importance of getting a person with hearing loss' attention before speaking, facing him/her the whole time while speaking, and checking for understanding.
  • how typical speech can be altered into Clear Speech (capitalization mine) which is more readily understood by people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
  • simple ways to adjust background noise or compensate for its presence to make an environment more conducive to comprehension for someone with a hearing loss.
I put all of my data into a lengthy, detailed report for my instructor. There were no less than 13 appendices to the report! Unfortunately, this week when she returned my assignment, I did not receive the grade (and praise) I had been expecting. My report came back to me with her writing in green ink throughout and comments like my findings (see above) were "vague" and that I had "danced around the problem" of hearing loss rather than defining it. Ouch! It seemed to me that she did not appreciate the large amount of time I had devoted to the assignment and arranging the workshop details nor the time I spent thinking through a complex subject and boiling it down to basic strategies that could be taught within a workshop. I took this let-down very hard and it's been tough for me to move ahead with the next assignment which is creating a structured lesson.

My mother and sister have suggested to me that I stop focusing on the teacher's reaction and wait to receive feedback from the actual participants of my workshop and see if they find the information helpful to them. What do you think? 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Second 2015 Health Update

Today was check-in day for me and my husband to monitor our progress towards improved health and fitness this year. Here were our results:
  • Rob and I both lost another 5 pounds this month and met our target weight loss goals. Hooray!
  • I eliminated a daily medication for migraine prevention and my doctor approved reducing my daily medication for asthma prevention to the lowest dose available. 
  • I exercised 21 days this month and Rob exercised 20.
  • We watched a vegan film Vegecated which gave us both pause when we learned how animals are treated on industrial farms (viewer discretion advised). We are not embracing a vegan lifestyle, but for the next month I am going to eliminate animal products (with the exception of yogurt) to see what that is like for myself. By animal products, I am referring to beef, poultry, eggs, cheese, ice cream, and milk. During the past month, I found I was able to successfully switch from cow milk to almond milk. I like the vanilla flavored almond milk.
  • Instead of moving in the vegan direction, we are embracing a nutritarian diet as outlined by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D. He defines this way of eating as "attention to consuming lots of high-nutrient, healthful foods such as green vegetables, berries, and seeds" in his book, Eat for Health. I highly recommend this informative book to you.

But it hasn't all been easy. This month I had abdominal upsets and hunger pangs as my body adjusted to this new way of eating. I cooked one of our favorite vegetarian pasta dishes (see photo above) with a healthier, protein plus pasta and we could not finish it. We went to a social event where pizza and desserts were served and we brought our own fruit salad to eat and to share. Even with these challenges, neither of us wants to return to our old eating habits and we want to continue on and see how healthy we can become.