Getting outside of your comfort zone with skills-based health education

When transitioning to a skills-based approach, you need to be willing to take a step back and rethink your current practice . . . we know  . . . this is a lot to ask! However, consider this quote:

“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve got”

~Henry Ford

You may be thinking . . . but what I’ve got is good! Why do I have to change? Why can’t I just take what I have and integrate skills? These are all great questions that we are often asked when we work with teachers so we thought we would address them in a blog post.

Consider another idea:

“Just because it isn’t broken, doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement”

(no specific attribution here).

As educators we are learners and our teaching is constantly evolving. So too should our curriculum! Transitioning to a skills-based approach provides an opportunity for you to look at your curriculum with fresh eyes. To take a step back and identify areas for improvement and for growth. Being willing to rethink or at least reconsider your curriculum isn’t a reflection of its quality or efficacy; rather it is a reflection of your willingness to be open to change and thoughtful evaluation of your practice.

It is not easy to step back, especially since, if you have heard us present, it is pretty much guaranteed to mean that you will need to let some things go (cue Elsa). In our experience, you do need to let some things go  . . . and again . . . we know this is hard. We all have the activities that we love to do and that the students enjoy but these might always be what the students need. We have relatively little time allotted to health education. Limited to time to set students up with the skills and functional information they need in order to lead healthy lifestyles. Their time with you is precious – we need to make sure every minute is spent helping them develop skills, knowledge and confidence to leave your classroom and go out and make health enhancing choices. This is why we ask you to be intentional, thoughtful and critical about your curriculum.

In our experience, it is easier when you can commit to a “blank slate” approach as you work through a backward design approach to lead you to a purposeful curriculum designed to meet the specific needs of your students. Once you have worked through the process, THEN you can figure out where what you are already do fits, what you need to modify and yes . . . what you might have to let go. We promise that in the end, it will be worth it! But don’t just take our word for it .  . . here is a quote from a recent blog post by the amazing Andy Milne (@carmelhealth):

this does not work

(For more on Andy’s perspectives and ideas, follow him on Twitter and check out his blog:

Committing to moving to a skills-based approach is a big step. We won’t sugarcoat it – it is a big step that takes a lot of work but in the end, we 100% guarantee that it will be worth it! Our next post will take a sneak peek into research we are conducting looking into what skills-based educators have seen since they have made the transition!



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