Posted by Christy Williams on March 20th, 2018
A teacher always wants to bring out the best in his or her students The teacher of the Adult Ed classroom is no different. Adult learners have potential but need a teacher to help lead them and provide them the tools and avenues towards success.
Adult learners often enter the classroom with different outside pressures and responsibilities, they however come with the hope they can learn and find the success they need to accomplish their educational goals. When working with adult learners, teachers should remember the following ways to reach and help their students be ready to succeed.
Find Avenues of Engagement
Take the time to get to know the adult student and what they’re passionate about. This can be done in the first few classes, through writing prompts or class discussions. The more interests you can learn about the individual students, the more you’ll have to help them draw connections to what they are learning.
Adult learners often come into a classroom with past hurdles in their minds. They need to know their teacher understands them, and bridging their learning to real-world interests will serve as a way to both excite and engage them in the lessons.
While some adult learners may be excited to return to the classroom, many will be struggling with anxieties about it. Their past experiences in school didn’t go well and may have left them feeling like they can’t succeed. It’s up to the teacher to create a helpful, safe, and positive learning environment.
Teachers should encourage students to be open about their insecurities and be ready to find new ways to validate the students. Whether that’s taking the time to pull students aside and reward them with kudos and compliments for their efforts, or making sure to celebrate all successes, big or small.
Teachers can make positivity infectious by having students be each other’s cheerleaders and support system. If the learning environment is positive, it will help the students feel good about the work they do and the improvements they make.
Returning to the classroom, especially after not having been to school in years, can be a daunting task for many adult learners. No matter the reason why the adult learner has returned now, it’s crucial for teachers to be aware of the potential fears they may have in returning. Often, the fear of failure is the hardest one to overcome.
Learning means making mistakes. The teacher needs to be the one to show the students that failure doesn’t have to be devastating, but rather an opportunity to improve. Through mistakes, there are teachable moments, opportunities to look closely at why the answers were wrong.
Fear will only impede the learning process. Teachers can have their students vocalize and identify their fears, and then put them aside and let the process of learning lead them to success.
Share The Hope
Finding ways to engage with adult learners, creating a positive learning environment and working with students to overcome their anxieties and fear of learning, are all part of the most essential tools a teacher can give — hope.
Adult learners may not realize it, but they enter a classroom because they have hope they can learn, and ultimately improve their lives. As their teacher, you need to tap into that hope, explore it, and reflect it back. Every student cares, and now it’s time to use that fuel to bring out the best in everyone in your classroom.