Refocusing for new year

Refocusing, This New Year Marks Another Switchback

As I’ve reflected on this past year, our students’ paths to progress have reminded me of the approach to the world famous hike, Angels Landing, in Zion National Park. It’s called Walter’s Wiggles.

Enjoying the view on top of Angel's Landing at Zion National Park
Enjoying the view on top of Angel’s Landing at Zion National Park

Going straight up the clifflike approach to Angels landing would be treacherous and intense. Personal safety equipment including ropes and harnesses would be required even for highly experienced hikers, and even then, ascension would be exhausting. So, in order to help all hikers safely reach the top on their own, the park service cut Walter’s Wiggles into the mountainside.

This series of 15 switchbacks corrects and re-corrects hikers’ lateral direction back and forth across the cliffside in order to maintain a manageable grade and ultimately bring them to their vertical destination. It’s a slow and steady way to hike, but it eliminates dangerous falls and helps hikers get to the top safely without mountaineering know-how.

This is what TFL has consistently offered our students over the last year: accommodation and direction.

We have broken down the intense climb of reaching independence, and multiplied it into many smaller, more manageable paths. Each time your students’ paths changed direction this year, they rose a little higher up the mountain. Kudos to them! Great work!

This new year marks another switchback, one of refocusing.

Letting life, emotions, and other external circumstances direct their choices and habits has been a common and painful pattern for our students. They often find themselves choosing the path of least resistance and having fewer opportunities as a result. Eventually they get stuck, and some sort of intervention is needed. For many of them, that process was a key factor in your decision to help them find independence at TechieForLife. For us, that’s why we make consistent adjustments to our individualized approaches. The big adjustment this year is living on purpose.

Consistently and purposefully choosing what they will accomplish in a day, how they will grow, and what habits they will form is a key part of success for our students and a requirement for independent living.

To help them reach that milestone, we’re introducing the following:

  • Morning Connections
  • Schedule Improvements
  • Monthly Themes
  • Enhanced Mentoring
  • Revised Electronics Policy

We are excited about 2019! We look forward to hiking up more switchbacks this year as our students press towards greater heights. The best part of Angels Landing is getting to the top. We’re confident that our students will discover the same thing about reaching independence.

-Cam Sherman, TFL Program Director

teach-ability

Teach-ability- Quality of a True Leader

I’m really liking the idea that teach-ability is a quality of a true leader.

I’ve noticed that those students who exhibit a desire to learn and a willingness to seek and respond to suggestions from others really accelerate the rate at which they improve.

I think this is important in any position, but it seems to be especially important in a mentoring position.

Mentors need to be pros at seeking and responding to feedback.

We need to be able to seek it from our employers and supervisors, as well as from our mentees.

Making this behavior a part of ourselves truly creates real leadership.
— Cam, TFL Mentor

Mentoring moment personal

Mentor Moment With Cam…It’s Personal

As mentors we focus on what’s good for the students emotionally and socially.

Usually this revolves around a predetermined schedule of events that the mentors and students agree on.

Sometimes individual needs come up and we wonder what the best thing for the student is, given the new information, and how best to proceed.

Do we try to meet group needs or individual needs?

I think both.

Sometimes the best thing for the individual and the group is to show the group how important individual progress is by focusing on the one student who needs extra support.

At times this comes at the expense of rearranging the schedule, which can be uncomfortable, but we find that most often changes can be made that actually improve progress.

That’s something I like about TFL.

It’s personal.

We work individually on what the best thing is for each student.

Not everybody gets treated exactly the same.

It’s definitely not robotic like that.

I’m finding that assembly line education doesn’t work for our demographic, especially not in meeting emotional and social needs.

Knowing how to improvise to help in the best way possible separates mentors from line staff, and is a skill I really value here at TFL.

—Cam, TFL Mentor

 

New rock climber

A New Rock Climber Born…

Cambron often takes some of the students, especially Dallin, rock climbing.

They encouraged me to come along and try it, and

even though I was hesitant,

I decided to take them up on the offer a few weeks ago.

It was a little scary at first, but it was pretty fun.

It’s a great way to exercise, and it gave me a significant feeling of accomplishment when I got to the top of the climb.

I’ll definitely try it again. 

—Joseph, TFL student

Getting out of comfort zone.

Mentor Moment- Watching Students Step Out Of Their Comfort Zone

As a mentor I really enjoy the opportunities to watch the students step out of their comfort zone and do things they’ve never done before.

I have countless opportunities to give advice and feedback to the students in many areas such as social ballroom dance, dating, talking about their feelings, being an advocate for themselves, etc.

The one thing I always tell the students is, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” and many of the students have told me how true this statement is.

As they look back on things that challenged them the most, they seem to always end up being the most rewarding and that’s what life is all about.

Being slightly uncomfortable, whether or not by choice, can push us to achieve goals we never thought we could.

—Brittani, TFL Mentor

Mentors connecting with students

Mentoring Moments- Connecting And Being There For Each Other

We’ve had some great connecting moments these last couple weeks.

All of our students deal with different things, and the greatest thing about mentoring here at TechieForLife (TFL) is that most of the students are able to open up to the mentors about their challenges.

We really start seeing progress as students share their individual personal loads.

For example, one of our students deals with anxiety quite a bit. He’s been really open with the mentors, and we’ve had some success showing him that as a whole, the students and staff here at TFL are committed to consistently and dependably being there for each other.

As a mentor I’ve really enjoyed one on one conversations about progress and needs for improvement with students over dinner or lunch.

I think this provides a great opportunity for us to get away from the program for a minute and just talk in a relaxed, informal environment. –Cambron TFL Mentor