The Conscious Competence Matrix

This learning framework breaks down the learning process into 5 steps that moves someone from renting to owning a particular skill.

The Conscious Competence Learning Matrix is useful in framing our growth as teachers and is equally beneficial in empowering educators to take charge of their own professional development.

Students in a classroom smiling

The Conscious Competence Learning Matrix:  Process & Power

The¬†Conscious Competence Matrix¬†(sometimes known as the¬†Conscious Competence Learning Matrix) outlines the process that we all go through as we learn new skills. ¬†The process begins with us in darkness (not knowing we don't know) and ends with us pulling others out of the darkness (knowing something so well that we can teach others). ¬†In laying out this process in basic steps, it empowers us to use this tool as a means of informing and transforming‚ĄĘ our own teaching practices.

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Consciously Unconsciously Skilled

At this stage, you are so comfortable performing this skill that you are able to successfully teach others how to do it.  This demonstrates a solid grasp in understanding  as you are able to help others achieve the same.  To others, you are so comfortable that you can share that comfort.

‚ÄčThis is the stage of ownership.

You know you know it when you can teach it.

‚ÄčUnconsciously Skilled

In this stage, your skills are quite refined.  You can do this skill successfully without having to think about it.  This shows how much practice and effort you have put into this.  To others, you make it look natural and effortless whenever you do it.  

This is the stage of internalization.

Students participating in a classroom activity

Consciously Skilled

When you are consciously skilled at something, it means that you are able to do it well though not consistently and not without effort.  Being at this stage signifies that you know how to do the skill and can execute it effectively as long as you stay present.  To others, it may look awkward, but it's clear to see you're getting it.

This is the stage of renting.

Students in classroom

Consciously Unskilled

There is a time in which we know that we don't know how to do something or that we sense there is something that we lack.  It is this stage that we begin to open up to change by "admitting" a need.  To others, it may look like a big "ah-ha" or a bit confusing.

This is the stage of awakening.

Teacher instructing students

Unconsciously Unskilled

When you don't know that you don't know, who's to blame?  For some reason, the experiences that you have been given have yet to inform you of the skill and its necessity.  To others, it may seem bewildering that we don't see, but it's only because our eyes have yet to open.

This is the stage of blissful ignorance.

Kids in school learning

The Conscious Competence Learning Matrix is a simple and effective way to break down the process of learning into tangible stages.  There are many benefits to looking at teaching and learning through this lens.  The four biggest ones are:

  1. Common Language improves communication.
  2. Knowing the process that I am going through increases my awareness and my resiliency.
  3. Being able to assess my own progress is empowering.
  4. Using a common framework promotes community.

Using the Conscious Competence Matrix to Stimulate Professional Development

There are many ways to incorporate the Conscious Competence Matrix into your own personal, professional growth plan or into a school/district-wide plan.  The important point is to use the matrix continuously as a means of raising both your awareness and your skill set.

Take a look at how we can use this matrix as a self-reflection tool for teachers going through TESOL Trainers' SIOP Institute:

TESOL Trainers SIOP Self-Reflection

TESOL Trainers offers K-12 professional development:  
‚Äčpromoting teacher change.

John Kongsvik - Director TESOL Trainers, Inc.

John Kongsvik and his team of trainers can design and deliver a professional development program that empowers all educators to take charge of their own professional development.  

With the right knowledge, tools, and mindset, teachers develop a keen sense of awareness and the ability to use it as a means of informing and transforming‚ĄĘ their own teaching practices. ¬†

Let us show you how easy it is to transform teaching and learning with these awareness raising techniques.

‚ÄčTESOL Trainers will transform how teaching and learning happen at your school.

Change written on chalkboard

Change is hard.  Research indicates that many teachers do not understand the process of change as it relates to how to modify their own teaching skills.  Not understanding the process one must go through in order successfully integrate professional development content into one's daily teaching repertoire is the reason why many teachers give up.  Research also indicates that effective teacher training workshops empower their participants with an understanding of the stages of change.  

TESOL Trainers helps teachers understand the process of change and navigate successfully through it.  We provide real tools teachers can use to help raise their awareness levels, to develop resilience in the face of challenges, and to make purposeful changes in their practices until skill masterly is met.  Change is not easy, but TESOL Trainers makes it more probable.

Some facts about the Conscious Competence Learning Matrix

The Conscious Competence Matrix outlines the stages that teachers must pass through to move from unconsciously incompetent to unconsciously competent.  There are certain truths about this learning model that can help everyone prepare themselves for change:

  1. Everyone must pass through every stage; they cannot be skipped.
  2. The speed at which we pass through each stage depends on our skill set, the challenge of the task at hand, and the support we have.
  3. Just like you can move from being consciously unskilled to consciously skilled; you can also move from consciously competent to consciously incompent.
  4. Awareness plays an important role in skill development. 

Some history about the Conscious Competence Learning Matrix

Self Awareness

The first published record of this model comes from 1969 when Martin Broadwell published an article that attempted to qualify teachers based on their skill set.  This original model had four stages:

  • Unconscious Incompetent - This teacher is unaware of their incompetence but may believe their are more competent than they really are. ¬†The Dunning-Kruger Effect explain this false sense of mastery that certain types of unskilled people have. ¬†Broadwell offers a bit of pity for the unconscious incompetent teacher who is not effective and is not even aware of it.
  • Conscious Incompetent - This teacher is in a better position to develop their skills because they are now aware of a lack of skills. ¬†Broadwell says that at least this teacher knows they are bad.
  • Conscious Competent - This teacher is not only effective but also knows why. ¬†In addition to being skilled, the conscious competent teacher knows what makes them skilled. ¬†Broadwell says that this kind of teacher makes the best teacher training because they are fully aware of what they do to execute a skill successfully.
  • Unconscious Competent -¬†This teacher is an effective teacher but may not know why. ¬†Broadwell cautions that the lack of awareness of behalf of this teacher makes them less effective than the conscious competent teacher and may make them less able to train other teachers.

TESOL Trainers Gives Teachers Conscious Competence

When we say we can transform the way that teaching and learning occur at your school, we mean it.  Our professional development (traditional or remote) can create a critical mass of changed teachers with a systemic and sustainable way to support change.  

‚ÄčIf you want more out of a teacher training workshop than a day away from the classroom,¬†contact TESOL Trainers. ¬†We guarantee that every teacher will walk away from our¬†professional development¬†with the inspiration and instruments to change. ¬†

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