This post is about the importance of the Talking Mats blog and how it can be used as a rich resource of information for anyone interested in communication. One of the first ‘tasks’ that I was asked to do after starting my new job at Talking Mats was to create and give a presentation to an international audience of trainees at our most recent course for Accredited Trainers. I had only been in post for 2 weeks and I was also a trainee on the course, so the pressure was on!
The main aims of the presentation was to promote the Talking Mats Blog as a source of rich information which is accessible to anyone, that Accredited Trainers can use it in their own training courses, and also to encourage Accredited Trainers to write their own blog posts to describe how they use Talking Mats in their working and personal lives.
I wanted to try and make the presentation look a bit more dynamic than the usual ‘death by PowerPoint’ that can sometimes occur after a whole day of looking at slides! I decided to use Prezi, “a cloud-based presentation software and storytelling tool for presenting ideas on a virtual canvas”, as I’d had good feedback about it when I had used it in the past and thought this would be a perfect opportunity to roll it out again. You can see the completed presentation here.
When the day came to give the presentation, I wasn’t feeling on top form after having flu for a few days previously. Because of this my memories of it are rather hazy (which isn’t good for the purposes of writing a blog about the presentation!) but from what I’ve heard, apart from looking ill, I managed to get my points across without confusing (or frightening) the audience!
It was a fantastic opportunity to take part in the Accredited Training course and to hear the stories of all the trainees who are dedicated to using Talking Mats to improve the lives of the people they help on a daily basis.
I’ve also just found out that the team at Talking Mats have been blogging for 4 years, so get reading!
We really enjoy training people to use Talking Mats and are always inspired by the range of participants who are working hard to support people with communication disabilities. Here is some of the feedback we have received recently from the Talking Mats training courses that we have run.
If you would like to find out more about our training courses please click here
One of the many ‘non-traditional’ uses of Talking Mats has been the work that has been undertaken with university students (both undergraduate & post graduate) at the University of Stirling. Since 2008, staff in the Career Development Centre at the University have been trained to use Talking Mats as a tool to help students to articulate their career thinking and planning.
We have established from our research and trialling of a range of topic cards that students respond well to the process. While the majority of the students we work with have no speech or language difficulties, the process of TM enables students to articulate their thoughts and to feel more at ease to raise particular issues. It can be very hard for students to talk openly about financial worries, academic issues, or career anxiety. TM gives a platform for this to be done in a non-threatening way and quickly allows the Careers Adviser to see where the student is ‘at’ in their thinking. This then allows the adviser to work more efficiently & effectively to support the student to develop their career plans /strategy.
Staff feedback would indicate that they enjoy working with TM in both one to one and group settings with students. There are many perceived advantages to using TM but one of the main ones is that it can make better use of the time available and that it can be a good way to see quickly where the key issues are that need to be addressed. TM also fits well with current Career Guidance Theory, allowing the student to narrate the ‘story’ and arrive at their own solutions to the ‘problem’ under discussion.
There are of course some students who do have additional learning needs and TM is again an ideal tool. In particular, students with dyslexia and dyspraxia comment positively that the visual aspect of the cards allows them to process the information and structure their thinking in a clearer way that just talking to a careers adviser can.
International students who sometimes have poor English language skills respond well to using TM as it allows us to get a clearer picture of the students thinking than sometimes is the case from a more ‘traditional’ discussion
Action Planning and Goal setting are a big part of the Career Management process and TM is a really useful tool to ‘kick-start’ this process for students. The visual impact is powerful and enables students to see clearly what they are considering and the cards allow the students to physically move the cards to help them to decide how to move forward in their thinking and planning. Students consistently comment that they appreciated the opportunity to see clearly the issues that they are considering and allow them to move forward.
Many thanks to Elaine Watson, Careers Adviser, University of Stirling and one of our accredited trainers for this stimulating description of how she is implementingTalking Mats
My name is Karin Torgny, I’m from Sweden. My background is in journalism and culture studies. I used to work in “The Development Centre for Double Exposure” for many years, and our mission was to improve and spread knowledge about violence against women with disabilities. My special interest during these years was AAC. Today I work for Unicef and in different projects on human rights issues.
A year ago I did my accredited Talking Mats training in Stirling, Scotland. Since then I have given my first course in using Talking Mats when talking about abuse and harm. It was a great experience and an opportunity to work with an enthusiastic group of women who were open and willing to communicate using symbols. They are all in an organisation working with girls/women with intellectual disability exposed to violence and oppression in the name of honour.
I think Talking Mats is a good tool when approaching difficult subjects and I hope to run more courses like this in Sweden in the future. Lately I was interviewed on the Swedish Radio and talked about the use and possibilities with Talking Mats when someone is exposed to harm and abuse.
Congratulations to our 5 new accredited trainers from Edinburgh City Council , Lothian NHS, Perth Kinross Council and SENSE Scotland
We had a great two days working together, exploring the Talking Mats framework and thinking about skills in terms of training and implementation of the Mats. Lots of chat but some key thoughts emerged that are worth sharing
Keep calm with Talking Mats and have a blether
Talking Mats gives the thinker the power to say ‘No’
Open questions create open dialogue
Children do but don’t get enough time to say
Recap; Talking Mats provide a visual summary of the conversation
It is easy to feel drowned out by other voices Talking Mats keeps the focus on the person
It is good to have 1 to 1 time and not just when things go wrong
The health and being resource is a perfect fit for the outcomes focused approach
There were lots of exciting ideas for future projects and further blogs which will expand on these ideas a bit more. So watch this space as the new trainers develop their ideas more.