No doubt about it: It feels good to receive praise and awards when we achieve a goal. Even better, such recognition motivates us to keep going and accomplish even more. That principle has always been a central part of the Toastmasters experience: Members are recognized for their growth and success.
In the Pathways learning experience, there are even more opportunities to earn awards and accolades. The new education program provides recognition earlier and more often in a member’s journey. Consider this: In the current education program, you must give 10 speeches before you earn your first award in the communication track—the Competent Communicator. In Pathways, you can achieve an award after your first three speeches.
Meeting frequent milestones earns you badges, certificates, letters and other honors. You can also give online feedback badges to other members of your home club—badges with uplifting labels like Collaborative, Innovative and Inspirational.
“Stepping up the recognition is one of the brilliant aspects of Pathways,” says Paul White, DTM, a member of several clubs in Virginia. White is one of about 100 Chief Ambassadors who work as Pathways leaders helping members learn about the new program and what it means for them.
In Pathways, you choose one of 10 distinct learning paths. Choices include Presentation Mastery, Dynamic Leadership, Effective Coaching and Motivational Strategies. Each path is divided into five levels, which build in complexity from Level 1–5.
At each level, you complete two to three projects, and when you finish a level, you earn a digital badge and a digital certificate. The awards are displayed in Base Camp, the program’s learning management system. Every member has access to Base Camp, whether or not you decide to work in Pathways online or prefer to work with print materials.
When you complete Level 3, 4 or 5 in a path, you can request a letter from Toastmasters World Headquarters to inform your employer of your achievements. And when you complete an entire path, you earn the Proficient designation. For example: “Toastmaster Margaret completed the Innovative Planning learning path and is now Innovative Planning Proficient.”
Positive Pilot Feedback
In the Pathways program pilot, members in three districts have been eligible to enroll in Pathways. District 57 in Northern California launched the first phase in February, District 27 in the Washington, D.C., area followed in March, and District 51 in Malaysia began the pilot in May.
White, District 27’s Chief Ambassador, says the new recognition system will help with “member learning, satisfaction and retention.” It is one of many innovations in Pathways that are a boost to both new and veteran members, he adds.
“Stepping up the recognition is one of the brilliant aspects of Pathways.”— DISTRICT 27 CHIEF AMBASSADOR PAUL WHITE
“One of the beauties of Pathways is that it maintains those things that we love in the [current] education program,” White says, “but adds elements of newness, depth and recognition that are exciting to those of us who have been around for a while.”
Ashley Ching, CC, CL, a District 57 member, became one of the first Pathways users to earn a level-completion badge when she finished Level 1 of the Presentation Mastery path. Members who truly want to improve their skills must be motivated by more than awards, Ching notes, but she says it is rewarding to be recognized for progress. Because that happens frequently in Pathways, it helps members gain momentum in their speaking efforts.
“Without even noticing, it becomes easier to deliver speeches monthly, weekly and even daily,” says Ching, a member of the Capitol Speakers club in Benicia, California.
Early Pathways users have responded positively to the digital feedback badges. If, for example, you want to praise a member for a particularly compelling speech, you can give that person an Exceptional badge. Or let’s say you want to applaud a new club member for overcoming fears to give a speech for the first time—give them a Courageous badge.
“I can already tell that these badges are definitely morale boosters for both the giver and the receiver, and they will go a long way toward keeping members engaged and motivated,” says Savitha Setlur, DTM, a member of two clubs in Northern California.
Ching received Exceptional badges from fellow club members after one of her recent speeches, along with comments praising her enthusiasm and drive. At first, she recalls, she felt some embarrassment at the “exceptional” label. But gradually she allowed herself to appreciate the compliments.
“I let my feelings of embarrassment subside,” she says, “and transform into ones of pride and gratitude to my fellow Toastmasters for recognizing my success.”
Paul Sterman is senior editor of Toastmaster magazine.