You might not think swans and becoming a celebrant have anything in common (unless they were next to your ceremonial site or you were mentioning them in a script). When it comes to the assessment of module portfolios here at Celebrant Training UK, we use the SWANS framework. (Strengths, Weaknesses And Next Steps)
Paul and I use it in our assessment: he does it with the voice and presentation coaching modules, and I do with all other aspects of the training.
There are many things I’m looking for while engaging in one-to-one training, and later in the theoretical and practical work which has been submitted and where necessary I give extensive feedback. Ideally, the portfolios should be more work for the student than for the tutors but sometimes this isn’t the case and I spend days and days making notes. The whole point of feedback is to help the celebrants-in-training to maximise their celebrant skills and raise awareness of any area which requires improvement. Inevitably, this should include any further actions which need to be taken. A healthy, determined, open and enthusiastic approach to constructive feedback will set the celebrant-in-training on a vibrant path to celebrancy. As I always say to our students “the feedback is better coming from me than from your clients”.
The feedback we give is designed to develop their confidence while ensuring that they learn from it so that they can go into the world as a competent celebrant.
Our assessment will acknowledge which modules have been completed. It will suggest areas which need improvement. Feedback will highlight areas of excellence. There’ll be comments to encourage or praise their work. I’m also aware that sometimes the intended feedback, though well meaning, may be interpreted in a less favourable way and the celebrant may feel demotivated. It’s disappointing when that happens, obviously. My goal is always to show how the celebrant-in-training can progress, redraft, self-edit and work to improve their skills. It is my highest hope to encourage them towards excellence: being the best celebrant they can be.
Stretching their knowledge. If I feel like they’ve not explored something fully or their answers have fallen short of the desired learning outcome, this will be stated in my feedback.
Our role is to challenge the celebrant-in-training by acknowledging and cheerleading their strengths, offering truth about the areas which need further development, and then clearly laying out the steps which must be taken for progress to be made.
There are other things I look for too, such as plagiarism rather than relying on their own learning and writing skills. In those instances, they will either have their work rejected or be asked to resubmit.
Our role is to support our celebrants-in-training, and ideally they will seek our support as and when desired. We are firmly committed to lifetime mentoring for any of our certified celebrants.
So, there you have it: swans and celebrant training. Next time you happen upon a swan reflect on the point of our feedback: Strengths, Weaknesses And Next Steps.
And if you’re a celebrant-in-training, a newly qualified celebrant or you’ve been at it for years, why not take some time to look at your Strengths, Weaknesses And Next Steps.
Veronika Robinson and Paul Robinson are a husband and wife team whose boutique celebrant training Heart-led Celebrants (also known as Celebrant Training UK) attracts people from around the world. Heart-led Celebrants has earned a reputation for excellence in celebrant training, and those who are certified exemplify the highest standards in the industry.
Veronika has been officiating beautiful, bespoke ceremonies since 1995. She is a certified Infant Loss Professional; founder of Penrith’s first Death Café; is a celebrant for the charity Gift of a Wedding; and mentors celebrants around the world.
Veronika is the author of many books including the popular Celebrant Collection: Write That Eulogy; The Successful Celebrant; Funeral Celebrant Ceremony Planner; Wedding Celebrant Ceremony Planner; The Blessingway. Three more titles will be added in January 2024: The Gentle Celebrant’s Guide: Funerals For Children; The Discrimination-free Celebrant; The Celebrant’s Guide to the Five Elements.
Award-winning voice artist, Paul Robinson, has had a whole career centred around his voice and other people’s. He’s highly experienced as a celebrant, trained actor, drama coach, voice-over artist, singer, broadcaster, compère, and ventriloquist. Paul is an excellent communicator and teacher, and has a sixth sense about how to relate to individuals, groups and audiences.