Much of our work is invisible to adult learners in literacy, Basic Education or GED programs. At worst, they see us as people who know everything and get paid well for showing up for short days and short years and bossing them around.
At best, they think we’re wonderful people who have all the answers and are helpful and patient and don’t do anything between sessions with them.
Think of all the work-related tasks you do when you’re away from students, both paid and unpaid hours. Think of all the reasons you have for using one textbook rather than another, for choosing one kind of exercise over another, for bringing in a guest speaker, for going on a field trip.
If you let your learners into the reasons behind all this, they come to understand some of the complexities of teaching and learning; reading and math begin to seem less like magic and more like a set of concrete skills that they might be able to master.
If you do two different kinds of activities to teach the same skill, and discuss the relative merits of each with the learners, you make them part of the teaching team. They are in the position of evaluating the strategies, instead of being tested and found wanting. They can begin to think of their own learning in relation to each of the strategies. They are in the driver’s seat, just where you want them.
When you make your teaching transparent, you become less of a magician. You can show your true colours as a person who works hard, has certain skills and experience, brings them to the work at hand and evaluates the results in order to improve the next time around–a model much easier for students to follow than a magician.
(You will find all five written up here.)