My latest blog post was about growing up with a learning disability and ADHD and how it affects me still to this day. I decided with a little encouragement from a fellow educator (read his blog here: shiftparadigm2011.wordpress.com) to write another post about being an adult with a learning disability and ADHD and why that matters to hiring managers and trainers.
In my ever so eventful short life since college, about 7 years I have worked at a couple of different places, one thing I have noticed is that no-one really differentiates training. Think of it this way, we differentiate learning from K-12, and some college professors do well this also, so why is it that we are so big on differentiating learning and teaching and then we get to the corporate world and its a one size fits all training model? I remember in my University 101 course that we had to take a quiz on our learning style, we had to figure out the way we learned best to be successful. The way I learn and the way professors teach or corporations train do not usually match up.
You may be asking why differentiating training is important? Think of it this way, do we all look the same? Talk the same? Have the same background? No, we don’t so why do we all need one size fits all training in the corporate world? I am a kinesthetic and auditory learner. I have to watch you do something, listen to you talk about it, then have you guide me through it, then allow me to do it on my own. That is how I learn. I have students who are auditory learners. Different people learn in different ways. As a person leading professional development or training at a company, you have to remember, not everyone learns the same way as you. Not everyone is an auditory learner, not everyone learns from looking at powerpoint slides over and over and over again, some have to only hear it, some have to see it, and others have to actually do it.
Differentiation should happen daily in all jobs, in all training in everything we do. I am primarily a hands on learner but if you pull out my notebooks from college, notes from professional development, or church journal you will see I doodle when someone is listening. A lot of time the doodle has to do with the subject matter. If you look at my education classes notebooks a lot of my doodles are pencils, crayons, books, an old school house with a bell tower. This is not because I wasn’t paying attention, but because I was. I have my notes but I listen, pick out the important parts to write down and doodle during the other parts. I am paying attention and hearing and listening to the other parts I just doodle. I have to be having my hand do something while someone is talking to me, it is weird I know but I am mainly hands on so if you are just talking and my hands aren’t moving you’ve completely lost me. Differentiation in the corporate world is important because not everyone is the same. As an adult with a learning disability, I have had to learn how to be actively engaged in professional development and training. I have learned that if I am ever in charge of PD or training what not to do. If I had more training, professional developments, and staff meetings that were differentiated I do not think I would dread them. I need to get up and do it myself, I need you to walk me through the steps of the paperwork, I need you to tell me when I am wrong and show me how to fix it, do not tell me how to fix it.
So all of that to answer this question: Why is differentiation important in the professional and corporate world?
It is important because we all learn differently, we all have different modalities to help us learn, and we all need different things to help us understand. I have a friend who is one of those people who can see something once and she remembers it, that is great, but me give me a print out of the powerpoint, repeat yourself if needed, and remember everyone learns differently even from you.
Some people have learning disabilites and are trying to make it in the corporate world. Me I have issues with executive functioning skills, attention, and processing speeds. What does that all mean. Simple tasks like organization take me long than most (executive functioning) I have to keep a calendar of dates and continuously look at it. Checklists and To Do lists do not work for me. Attention, when it is something I enjoy discussing, researching or reading about I can talk for hours and my attention is great. Talk to me about Green living, conservation, star wars and sci-fi books I can go on and on for hours about them. Talk to me about biographies, historical people, and sports not so much to talk about, unless its about my beloved Cincinatti Bengals, Pittsburg Penguins or LA Kings. My husband gets upset because he wants to talk about baseball, men’s softball, and teams other than my Bengals he doesn’t understand how I can talk about hockey for hours but I cannot listen to him for more than 15 minutes about his interests. It is part of my ADHD I find the things I like and interest me I focus on that and it is hard to break me away, however I work on those things daily. My processing speed disorder hurts me in my profession. I try to work through it, like I said in my last blog, mind and memory games do not work so well. In my job processing speed affects me greatly. It takes me long to form responses to people, I hesitate in what I say because I have to process the information move it around in my head and form my answer. I am not trying to cover things up I am trying to think and process. This has hurt me a lot over the years in the corporate world because during trainings and Professional developments I ask questions, this is to be sure I fully understand the information being relayed to me. It makes me look as though I was not paying attention and generally I am, my career may depend on this information. I have sent my supervisors e-mail asking questions about topics covered in various meetings and this isn’t to sound like I am unaware of what was stated in the meeting but to be sure I fully understand what is being asked for or discussed. As educators we are big on differention of student learning, but do we ever think that each teacher should have meeting information differentiated, that each teacher should recieve different types and amounts of support because each person learns differently?
Differentiation should happen daily not just in schools for students but in life for people in the corportate world. Not just for those with disabilities but for everyone. Everyone desires and deserves to be successful in everything they do.