On the Subject of Capacity-Building!

Are the following statements true or false?

  • By the age of 18, people know how to apply time-management skills to organizing work life, home life, and school life.
  • Students required to study two hours each night without a defined study process will know more massage content than students required to study one hour each night with a defined study process.
  • By the time they graduate from high school, people have established study methods that serve them well in massage school.
  • People know how to approach content in order to memorize it. They generally have a process in place for memorizing anything new.
  • Critical thinking is a skill you’re born with. If you don’t do it naturally, you’re unlikely to ever do it well.

If you’re an administrator or instructor, you know that all of these statements are false! There is a large body of research that demonstrates that capacity building—teaching students the skills they need to be successful in school—should be taught as part of a school’s orientation process and then reinforced throughout a school program. 

When I first joined the team at ABMP, our president, Les Sweeney, suggested I visit a variety of schools to test my assumption that ABMP should develop a comprehensive orientation curriculum to build student capacity before the beginning of a massage program. I visited 16 schools of various sizes, philosophies, and program lengths and pitched my plan. Everyone thought it was a great idea!

I came back to the office and went to work developing the ABMP Student Success resources and teaching kits. Unfortunately, only about 150 schools ever really used the program, despite the fact that teachers attending our Instructors on the Front Lines programs were excited about the chance to implement the curriculum and believed it would help their students.

When we queried schools about their reasons for not adopting the program, their primary challenges were time—they couldn’t fit it into an already overloaded curriculum—and money. The student materials were provided as part of Student membership, which also included a number of other materials and insurance for a fee of $45.

So, what happens next? Give up? Decide that capacity-building isn’t that important? Heck no! Of course not! We believe that capacity-building is essential for student success, especially for younger students coming into programs with little life experience. We haven’t given up; we’ve simply changed our approach, added resources, modernized the format, chunked and updated content, and made it FREE. Enter ABMP Student Life!

ABMP Student Life is a user-friendly suite of resources that support massage and bodywork students as they progress through a training program and take their first steps in their new careers. Every other week students receive an ABMP Student Life email. When they open the email, they can do things like download a special graphic organizer that makes learning muscle origins and insertions easier or watch a video that shows four great techniques to add to a foot massage routine. Students might download a quiz-preparation form or a checklist for organizing an effective massage exchange with a classmate. Maybe they’ll want to click through a colorful slide deck on planning a study party or tips for getting more sleep. The emails organize the content into bite-sized chunks to make it easy to absorb and utilize in a short amount of time. Some students will prefer to log in to www.abmp.com and scroll through the impressive array of resources and videos we’ve compiled to find exactly what they want and need—right now.  

Teachers are able to access ABMP Student Life to bring these resources into their classrooms. For example, they might download and pass out the ABMP pathology graphic organizer as a note-taking form before teaching a class on fibromyalgia. They might use the time-management resources to help students organize their work schedule, classes, and study, or they might use the Exam Preparation Form to teach students effective methods for preparing for quizzes and exams while in school. With 36 videos, 42 slide decks, and 61 forms, checklists, activities, or samples, ABMP Student Life is a trove of resources that supports the process of learning. Teachers are encouraged to sign up their students and access the materials that enhance their lessons. Try offering a fun ABMP Student Life extra-credit activity. You’ll be offering students a viable means to obtain extra credit and building their capacity as a student at the same time.

To sign up, visit www.abmp.com, click on the Student tab on the top navigation bar, and click on the ABMP Student Life circle to register for free access. If you already have an ABMP account, simply log in at www.abmp.com with your email and password, then click on the orange “Student” button on the left-hand side navigation bar. I hope students enjoy this free program, and that it provides some fun and easy ways to get more out of school and enter the massage profession full of enthusiasm and ready to make a difference for clients.

—Anne Williams is the director of education for Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals. Email her at anne@abmp.com.

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