Foot Feedback

Foot Feedback

FootprintsScenario 1: Mohan tells you he has an appointment tomorrow at the financial aid office, scheduled for the middle of your class. He adds that he is sorry that he couldn’t get the appointment at any other time. The next day, he arrives at your class on time, slips out to go to his appointment, and returns quietly half an hour later.

Scenario 2: You explain an activity, divide the class Continue reading

A Restless Student Settles

A Restless Student Settles

Ken was restless. His legs and feet moved under the table so much that the whole table shook. Other students complained about the noise and the shaking. Ken was an extreme case, but ABE/Adult literacy classes are full of students who cannot easily sit still, and whose restlessness interferes with the learning of others. Continue reading

Building Strong Relationships with Learners

Building Strong Relationships with Learners

For the past week or so, I’ve been writing about five strategies for developing stronger rteaching adult literacy elationships with learners:

All five strategies are written up in one article published in the ELMO Review. (Click on the image.)

Any thoughts on these strategies as a whole? What’s your most useful strategy or habit for building strong relationships with adult learners?

Say How You Feel

Say How You Feel

Like most of us I can’t hide my feelings. They show on my face, or in the set of my shoulders, or the sweaty palm prints I leave on the desk or table. Most students (like anybody else) will assume that my feelings have something to do with them. Here’s an example:

I’m in the middle of teaching and the student asks me to explain something again. (He still doesn’t get it after the third time.) I’m about to start the explanation when I notice the clock and suddenly remember that I have to cut this session short for an emergency meeting about a crisis in the program.

All my feelings about the meeting come over me–worry, wonder, anger, confusion, etc. These feelings show on my face or in my body–tight lips, far-away look, and hunched shoulders. Continue reading

Make Your Teaching Transparent

Make Your Teaching Transparent

photo: Nicholas Risch

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. Continue reading

Yes Means Yes. No Means No.

Yes Means Yes. No Means No.

“I’ve been writing poetry since I was 13, and I’ve got a big binder with all my poems in it. Would you mark them for me?”

Over the years, those were the two sentences I most hated to hear from a student. I dreaded reading the poems, because I expected them to be really bad poetry, and depressing. I was always right on both counts. Continue reading

Listen, Really Listen

active listeningThere is no better way to show respect to a student than to listen. If you listen, learners will teach you how to teach them.

If you listen, you’ll be surprised. And when you’re surprised, you’re not bored. That’s a good thing if you’ve been doing this job for a long time. Continue reading