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- Taking Charge® FAQs -

What is the fundamental message and goal of Taking Charge®?

Taking Charge® holds that we are all learners (learners of all ages and all abilities, parents and caregivers; educators; administrators; therapists; social workers; probation officers, etc.). And we are all whole, able, and complete just the way we are and just the way we are not; able and capable of making effective choices and developing competencies in self-identified areas of life concerns; and taking personal responsibility for our learning breakdowns and learning successes in life.

What is the Taking Charge® approach?

The Taking Charge® approach emphasizes working in partnership with all learners to assist them to identify their concerns in life, develop competencies and strategies to handle those concerns; and learn to follow through with effective, coordinated action that is conducive to the well-being of themselves and others.

What is Linguistic Coaching® and what is the Linguistic Coach’s role?

Linguistic Coaching® is a conversation in situations of shared activity that allows the speaker and listener to work in partnership as observers. A fundamental principle of Taking Charge® is that we invent ourselves through language. The role of the Linguistic Coach is not to change another learner’s behavior or attitudes. Rather, the Linguistic Coach works in partnership with learners in a learning ecology of mutual learning, mutual trust, and mutual support to empower learners to take charge of their own learning breakdowns and learning successes in life.

What is meant by speaking and listening?

Taking Charge® recognizes four speech acts that are the basis for committed speaking and listening among observers that open possibilities for learning and coordinated action: requests; promises; offers; and assertions.

What does it mean to be an observer?

A basic premise of Taking Charge® is that it is not an event itself, rather it is our interpretation of the event that closes or opens possibilities for learning and effective, coordinated action. Simply put, we have two possibilities: 1) to react (i.e. close possibilities for learning); or 2) to choose to observe and take effective coordinated action (i.e. open possibilities for learning).

Why do we react vs. choose to observe?

Taking Charge® has found that effective, coordinated action is directly related to our ability to listen to, that is, observe, our own and others self-narratives, the pervasive, fundamental, and underlying assumptions, beliefs and expectations that determine our thoughts and feelings and the subsequent action that we take, as well as our underlying commitments in speaking and listening.

How do we listen to, or observe, our own and others self-narratives and commitments in speaking and listening?

Taking Charge® has proposed that our self-narratives show up in reoccurring patterns of learning breakdowns. Taking Charge® offers nine dialogue possibilities that empower committed speakers and listeners to turn learning breakdowns into learning opportunities.

How does Taking Charge® empower learners to identify their concerns in life and develop competencies to handle their self-identified concerns?

Taking Charge® has proposed that all learners share common life concerns and move through levels of learning as they develop competence to handle their concerns in life. As learners develop competence, they experience themselves as whole, able, and complete; able and capable of making effective choices and taking personal responsibility for their learning breakdowns and learning successes in life.

What does Taking Charge® consider to be a successful learning environment?

Taking Charge® has identified the underlying features that create a successful learning environment in the home, classroom, therapeutic milieu, or in the community. By working in partnership, learners’ moods of despair and hopelessness naturally shift to an anticipation for learning.

Who should complete one or more of the Taking Charge® programs?

For nearly 45 years, Taking Charge® has been field-tested with a full range of public and private school personnel, including teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, counselors, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, adaptive physical education teachers, early education teachers and aides, job coaches, independent living instructors, bus drivers and bus aides, and others. Educators working in continuation high schools, alternative schools, or special education programs can particularly benefit from the Taking Charge® programs. Professionals working with children, youth, and adults in compensatory education, Head Start, Student Assistance Programs, and other programs for difficult to teach and reach children, youth, and adults will find the materials useful. In addition, the materials have been adapted for use with parents and caregivers, mentors and life coaches, as well as professionals in the mental health, juvenile justice, and rehabilitation fields who work with special needs and at-risk children, youth, or adults. Individuals who complete the course as Linguistic Coaches have reported that the principles of Taking Charge® have been helpful in opening possibilities for effective communication and learning in their families and personal lives as well.

Is Taking Charge effective with very young children, non-verbal children or adults, or those with developmental or cognitive delays?

Taking Charge® is a language based approach. Hence, we call our method Linguistic Coaching®. We are frequently asked how effective the approach can be with very young children, when a child or adult has receptive or expressive language challenges, or is non-verbal and unable to respond verbally or carry on a “conversation”. Some of the confusion about the effectiveness of Linguistic Coaching with all learners comes from our own assumptions about how we learn to understand and use language, what constitutes “language”, and the role language plays in learning and communication. Two biologists, Maturana and Varela (1992) have demonstrated that we are all born into the world as language beings. Language lives in our bodies not just in our speaking and listening apparatus (i.e. brain, mouth, eyes, ears).

How does the Taking Charge® approach differ from other behavior management, character building, or motivational approaches?

Taking Charge® has found that the one person missing in other approaches is the learner him or herself. Rather than focusing on controlling or changing learners’ behaviors or attitudes, Taking Charge® proposes that we are all innate learners, whole, able and complete just as we are and just as we are not. By working in partnership, we can empower each other to make effective choices and develop competence to handle our own self-identified areas of life concerns; and take personal responsibility for our learning breakdowns and successes in life.

How long does it take to complete the Taking Charge® programs?

Taking Charge® offers a variety of programs tailored to your individual interests, concerns, and needs. The time-frame for Taking Charge® programs, courses and workshops varies from three hours to 40 hours. Individual Linguistic Coaching® consultation services are provided on an hourly basis. However, as with any new endeavor, completing one of the Taking Charge® programs is only the beginning of your journey into the world of Taking Charge®. As one excited participant exclaimed after completing the 40-hour Taking Charge® for Educators and Related Professional Course: “..thank you and all the other instructors who worked very hard and with whole hearts to create one of the truly transformative educational experiences of my life-long learning journey. Of course, the class for me is a culmination of all that I’ve observed at Almansor over the past year. Now to continue with the next leg of the journey, practice, practice, practice!”

Why do the Taking Charge® programs use such complex language and jargon?

Taking Charge® is a language-based approach and the concepts and terminology can sound a bit unusual or technical. However, isn’t it worth the effort to examine and grapple with our assumptions and how they may get in the way of producing the results we want? We invite you to dive into Taking Charge® and see the possibilities for yourself and others. Our mutual commitment to make a difference in the lives of all learners is at stake.

Who created Taking Charge®?

Dr. Nancy Lavelle developed and created the Taking Charge® programs and related materials. She has established and directed programs and services for special needs and at-risk learners, their families, and the professionals who serve them for nearly 45 years. Through her leadership and dedication, Dr. Lavelle remains in the forefront in her efforts to redesign and transform education and other social services in communities everywhere.

Who do I contact if I have any other questions?

Please contact us by clicking here.