Trigger Warnings 3: An Outlier

Trigger Warnings 3: An Outlier

In this series of related posts with the title “Trigger Warnings” I am talking about strategies for using “difficult” material in an adult literacy or ABE class. I’ll get to why it is important to use such material in a later post.

sun 5684697184_d397407927Usually I was aware that a piece of material might be uncomfortable or very difficult for some students, and could prepare accordingly, but once I was caught by surprise by the need for a trigger warning. As I think about it, my surprise surprises me. Did I think everyone would be comfortable talking about menstruation in an ABE class? Or did I bury any misgivings because I wanted to right an imbalance my feminist soul had noticed and railed against? It happened like this:

In an upper level ABE class one year, two women students came to me with a trigger warning that I ought to have anticipated, but didn’t. Continue reading

Trigger Warnings

Trigger Warnings

trigger_warningIt seems that “trigger warnings” are everywhere these days, from the usual “This program contains crude language and sexual content; viewer discretion is advised,” to “Trigger warning: rape, extreme verbal abuse, and torture.”

You might think if ever there was a place for a trigger warning, it’s an ABE, adult literacy or GED class where teachers daily work with students who have experiences of violence:

  • those whose childhood experiences of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse made it difficult for them to succeed in the K-12 system;
  • those who came from war zones, who may have been tortured and who saw loved ones killed or wounded;
  • those who, as youth or adults, were or still are involved in gangs or other criminal activity;
  • those who are currently living with violence from their boyfriend or spouse.
  • those whose schools lives were miserable because of taunts and bullying from students and teachers because they did not succeed at school tasks.

Continue reading

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

Tempest in the Pool

Tempest in the Pool

Aquafit  classI was a student today, at my aquafit class. I was a student who resisted, who didn’t participate, who went missing. You know, one of those students who makes you wonder why you ever wanted to teach.

We had a teacher who has taught our class only a few times, a lovely, enthusiastic teacher with a bounce in her step and encouragement in her voice. Continue reading

Learning Curves, Twists, and Turns

So much food for thought here. I love these stories of teachers putting themselves in learners’ shoes, literally and figuratively.
And check out the rest of the blog, too–Kate

Adult Literacy and Essential Skills Research Institute

Written by:  Sandi Loschnig

In 1999, I chose to leave my comfortable life on Protection Island, British Columbia, to travel to Cochabamba in Bolivia for a new job working as an educator for a women’s organization. It was a learning journey in every way.

Learning Spanish, finding an apartment, discovering the eccentric transportation systems in the city, shopping for food, being immersed in a new culture—in every moment I was preoccupied with absorbing information. I even dreamed about conjugating Spanish verbs. I was trying so hard to cram everything in that my head ached each evening from the effort.

It wasn’t until I came back to Canada nine months later that I could reflect on my experience. I realized what it meant to be learning a whole new culture, how difficult it was, and how it changes your very identity.

I arrived in Bolivia as an experienced educator in my…

View original post 1,750 more words

Adult Learner Success ‎Factors that Facilitate Adult Learner Success in the NWT starts with a review of earlier findings:

…we understand that:

  • Non-academic outcomes are qualitative, intangible, subjective, personal, and extensive.
  • Learners gain much more from ALBE programs than academic outcomes suggest. Continue reading



When a feeling is not a feeling…

I don’t trust words that end in “-ed” when they are used to describe emotions.

Take “loved” for example, as in “I feel loved.” Well, no, “loved” is not a feeling. That sentence really means that you have noticed that someone loves you. What you feel is another thing. You may feel happy, joyful, ecstatic; you may feel love in return for the person who loves you.

On the other hand, if the person who loves you is a spouse that you want to divorce, you may feel guilty, sad, impatient, angry…. If the person who says “I love you,” is stalking you, you may be afraid, angry, anxious, curious…. Continue reading

If They Come, They Care

If They Come, They Care

www.katenonesuch.comI expected it to be an interesting activity. I was sure people would take part, and hoped they would enjoy it. But they didn’t seem to care.

I gathered some objects on a table in the classroom–modelling clay, bread dough, a crumpled plastic bag, rubber bands, pebbles, a plastic mug and a ceramic mug, Continue reading

The Heart Connected to the Ear

The Heart Connected to the Ear

Armando Gutierrez is the author of  “You Don’t Know Me,” a piece which I re-blogged about the great difficulties overcome, the supreme effort that some GED students put forth in order to come to class. A couple of months ago he posted a comment where I had re-blogged his original story, that started me thinking. He asked two questions: Could you deal with some of the issues your GED students are facing each day? And if you were, would you not want a caring ear to listen to you? The simple answers are no, and yes. Continue reading

What’s Wrong with This Picture?

Dear Mom,
You are always wondering what my job is and what I do for work. A while back I worked with a group of adults in a research project who listed all their needs before they could return to regular school. It was a huge list. What I do is try to support the programs that offer learning to these adults.
Today I am in a swank hotel in Vancouver, surrounded by glitz, food and chocolate, talking about Literacy.
What Is wrong with this picture?
Dee Continue reading