In her work with children, Camilla has realized how much more powerful it is to ask a learner to do something than to ask the learner not to do something. For example, in the classroom Camilla had her students stand in a circle and practice reciting poems. One extra-fidgety student was having trouble remaining in the circle alongside his classmates. Instead, “he wanted to explore the walls and edges of the classroom.” Camilla placed a piece of paper on the ground and asked her student if he could keep two feet on it. “My favorite moment was when he started to shift his feet around to see if one foot, or the toes of one but the heels of the other, would count. Since he was finally staying next to his classmates, all of his variations did count!”
Camilla reports another way in which KPA knowledge has benefitted her work with human students. “In teaching speech arts and drama (aka, the art of speaking), the artistic elements of the performing arts have been very difficult to quantify. Students are often told to ‘slow down’ as they perform, read, and speak.” Camilla’s new, post-KPA strategy is to have students use a stopwatch to time themselves. “Without data, how can we determine change?” Camilla’s students are challenged to take longer, to see the numbers on the stopwatch climb higher with a second repetition. “Now we have a way to quantify speed. Students can see and track their progress in ‘slowing down.’” Similarly, Camilla uses a decibel-reader app on her phone to quantify and track changes in students’ projection and volume as they project their voices. “It’s very exciting to break down, and find ways to quantify, artistic qualities and to show students their progress!”
Camilla believes that her KPA foundation has led her to observe those around her with more kindness, both strangers and family/friends; she practices looking at everything through a more optimistic lens. “Instead of focusing on the things that aren’t done, I try to focus on things that have been accomplished.” She practices gratitude more consistently and approaches challenges with an open mind. Camilla works to listen to clients, “praising them for the things they are doing right before diving into a training plan to modify behavior.” When she worked with a friend to set up an EX-pen recently, Camilla broke down the steps into even smaller steps: “right hand on the panel with the door, left hand on the other panel, hands together.” Instead of building frustration and provoking tempers, this strategy allowed for the job to completed efficiently without hurt feelings.
Since graduating from the KPA DTP program, Camilla has completed the KPA Smart Reinforcement courses. She has also completed Susan Friedman’s Living and Learning with Animals and is a TA in Training for that program. Camilla is TAGteach Level-1-certified (currently working on Level 1). With a deep-seated love of learning, Camilla is “always taking some course or other.” She has tried nose work and is currently taking a fitness foundations course. Camilla loves ClickerExpo conferences!
Looking ahead, Camilla aspires to convert her extracurricular teaching (with humans) to the clicker training methodology, in the process quantifying it. “I’m also working on how to apply positive reinforcement to personal behavior change, in keeping data for dog training logs or working out more, for example.”
Camilla believes that the KPA DTP program has opened doors for her. It has also offered “a wonderful community—both locally and globally.” She says that “teaching pet professionals in Japan, raising baby puppies, and forming communities and relationships where knowledge is shared openly and victories are celebrated” are just some of the things in her life that have been enhanced by her KPA knowledge and experience. “I have a happier life. There’s no better feeling than seeing how excited and happy my animals are when I pull out a clicker!”