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

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

How to Say “No!” to Your Teacher

How to say “No” to your teacher introduces students to a seven-step process for saying “No,” gives them some practice using prepared scripts based on common situations, and then assigns them the task of saying “No” to each other, and to me, at least once in the following week. (Detailed lesson plan, with scripts, here)

Seven Steps to Saying “No!”

The steps are surprisingly simple to articulate: Continue reading

I’m Sorry…

I’m Sorry…

temperPete was in my class that term, a student who described himself with pride as a “recovering asshole.” Most days it seemed to me that he was enjoying being stuck in the recovering stage, and wasn’t doing very much to move towards finally being “recovered.”

Still, we jostled along. He participated in class activities, and I held him accountable for treating others with respect.

One day in class he made a remark about women that seemed particularly aimed at me, and I lost it. I dressed him up one side and down the other. I can’t remember what he said, or what I said, but I remember that he shut up really quickly, and the other students  tried to look like they were somewhere else.

I went home feeling ashamed of myself. Continue reading

“I Pass!” is Active, Not Passive

“I Pass!” is Active, Not Passive

I was talking to my friend Diana on the weekend, about the passing rule. She had read my post, “Just say Pass!” and it made her think about her experience in post secondary courses.

“It’s not good when people always pass,” she said. “In all my classes, most people hardly said anything. Two or three white men did all the talking, and the other students said nothing. Most people passed all the time.” Continue reading