The New York Transgender Advocacy Group (NYTAG) believes that learning occurs most effectively when those engaged in the process (teachers, facilitators, experts, learners, novices, participants, etc.) collaborate and work toward a common goal. In the most efficient and effective learning environments, those involved motivate each other, and there is a give and take marked by open communication, experimentation, inquiry, and respect. Collaboration facilitates ongoing dialogue, which maximizes teaching and learning. Moreover, involved parties are able to co-construct knowledge and bring their own perspectives to the work, thus building empathy, flexibility in thinking, interdependence, critical thinking, and problem solving, amongst other essential skills.
NYTAG’s training objectives are closely aligned to the ABCD Model and are carefully written with the following in mind:
A is for Audience. Who is the audience?
B is for Behavior. What are expected behavioral outcomes?
C is for Condition. What are the conditions for learning?
D is for Degree. To what degree will the participant be enabled to make the expected shifts?
Throughout the curriculum, the ABCD Model is used to build behavioral objectives in the following domains:
Cognitive - Emphasizes remembering or reproducing something which has been learned
Affective - Emphasizes two different types of behaviors: reflexive (attitudes) and voluntary reactions and actions (values); includes the following stages: perception, decision, action, and evaluation
Interpersonal - Emphasizes learner skills associated with interpersonal exchanges; this measures how a participant interacts with others in a variety of situations
Methods of Instruction
NYTAG’s pedagogy is founded on experiential learning, which is a process of learning through experience, whereby learning occurs through reflection and doing, and participants examine how the concepts directly apply to their lives. Moreover, NYTAG trainings facilitate a learning environment that invites deep, challenging questions and a space where participants can unpack these topics. Through workshops, discussions, lectures, role-play and simulations, stories, cases, and anecdotes, participants are able to connect to the content and directly apply the approaches, skills, and knowledge they are acquiring in real-time to improve their practice.
- Case studies
Cultural competence is having an awareness of one’s own cultural identity and views about difference, and the ability to learn and build on the varying cultural and social norms of those around us. It is the ability to understand the within-group differences that make each individual unique, while celebrating the between-group variations.
NYTAG’s curriculum builds participants’ cultural competence by engaging them in activities that allow self-reflection as a way to enhance self-awareness. In this work, participants have an opportunity to examine where they are in the stages of cultural awareness and their points of reference for interactions with members of the transgender and gender nonconforming (GNC) community. They also examine their biases and engage in a series of activities that enable them to identify the roles that both conscious and unconscious bias (at the individual, group, and institutional levels) play in the relationships they have traditionally cultivated with members of the community. It is important to note that biases, conscious or unconscious, are not limited to ethnicity and race. Though racial bias and discrimination is well documented, biases may exist toward any social group. One’s gender, gender identity, physical abilities, religion, sexual orientation, age, weight, physical appearance, socioeconomic status, and many other factors are subject to bias. In this instance, NYTAG takes an intersectionality approach to unpacking bias, thereby addressing the multiple ways in which transgender or GNC individuals encounter discrimination, and ultimately, barriers to access and a poor quality of life.
Teaching Through Conversation
In adult learning, inquiry - a process that uses questions, problems, and scenarios to help learners engage with content through their own agency and investigation instead of just presenting the facts - facilitates critical thinking and the abilities to form, express, and exchange ideas through dialogue, questioning, and sharing ideas and knowledge.These learning environments function effectively when the instructor listens carefully, makes guesses about intended meaning, and adjusts responses to assist learners’ efforts. The instructor is essentially there as a facilitator, rather than as a “sage on a stage” who guides the discussion and lectures for the entirety of the learning experience. Here, the instructor must relate formal knowledge to the learner’s individual, family, and community knowledge.
This type of an instructional approach is based on assumptions that are fundamentally different from those of traditional lessons (lectures, workshops). Here, the instructors are trained to assume that learners or other participants have something to contribute beyond known answers or facts. Not only does the instructor listen carefully to all participants, makes guesses about the intended meaning, and adjust responses accordingly to move the conversation forward, but also, participants engage attentively and are in a space to contribute their experiences - cognitive, social, emotional, and otherwise - to shape the outcomes of the learning experience.
Engendering competence begs the question, “How do we create an experience that ensures that participants have effectively learned something they value and perceive as authentic to their real world?” In order to demonstrate competence, participants will have to perform certain behaviors, tasks, and skills to a certain level of proficiency. To ensure participants are on a trajectory to achieve competence in the areas addressed in NYTAG’s curriculum, facilitators will:
Foster a growth mindset and remind participants that mistakes and failure are a valuable part of learning.
Encourage participants by recognizing real effort.
Trust in their capacity to learn.
Provide feedback at each stage.
Ask open-ended questions that facilitate engagement and foster critical reflection and build metacognition (participants reflect on their thinking and learning - how and what were the critical processes that helped to move them through the work?)
Use closure techniques such as reviewing material, asking for feedback, and allowing for clarification.
Use a variety of feedback procedures to provide frequent, consistent feedback regarding mastery of learning.
Use constructive criticism to support learning and be specific about areas for improvement.
Use a strengths-based, rather than deficits-based approach to talk about participants’ learning and growth.
Demonstrate respect for participants’ efforts, however ill-informed and unsophisticated they may seem.
Revisit difficult conversations or activities to ensure participants are comfortable and understand their value - make sure the intentions behind activities are clear.
Involve participants in affirming each other’s strengths.
Celebrate accomplishments, growth, and breakthroughs.
Competence allows a person to become more confident. In turn, that confidence affirms the individual’s learning experiences and transformation, thereby providing the support needed to engage with and use new knowledge and skills.