How to kick-start 2019 as an Adult Educator on a big Mission

​What's your teaching resolution for 2019? 

Since I know you are a busy adult educator, I've put together a list of big ideas for you. I hope you find them useful. Without further ado, let's go over them one by one.

1- Get your priority right. Focus on learning and the test score will take care of itself.

2- Commit to promoting deep-structure learning instead of spending energy on surface learning.

3- Make brain-based research work for you and your students.

4- Set a clear student retention and completion goal and do your best to reach it. 

5- Help students adopt a growth mindset and protect them against learning stereotypes.

6- Use an inductive teaching approach to facilitate learning and develop students’ critical thinking.

7- Develop highly effective teaching moves and refine them as you go.

8- Revisit adult learning theory– or Andragogy– and keep being knowledgeable.  

9- Commit to being a remarkable, graceful and weird adult educator.  

10- Work smarter and protect your sanity. The world needs your arts.

11- Become a constructivist adult ed Instructor


What questions do you have?  Now, go change your students for the best!

Could you share the ideas with at least one fellow adult educator. And subscribe to our adult ed blog to be the first to get our new insights

CCR Standards Summary for Busy ABE and GED Teachers

Since I know you are busy, I've produced a CCR standards summary for you. Hope it makes your teaching easier. 

  1. What Do You Know About the 5 Levels of the CCR ELA Standards?
  2. What Do You Know About the 3 Shifts in the CCR Language Arts Standards?
  3. Seven  Misconceptions to Avoid When Talking about the CCR Standards Integration
  4. Should You Worry about the College Career and Readiness Standards (CCR)?

What questions do you have about the CCR standards summary?

Please share the CCR standards summary with your fellow adult education teachers. And subscribe to our adult ed blog to be the first to get our new insights

ELP Standards Summary for Busy Adult ESL Teachers

Since I know you are busy, I've put together the ELP standards summary for you. Hope it makes your work easier. 

1- Considerations for Integrating the ELP Standards in an ESL Program Curriculum

2- Guiding Principles for Integrating the ELP Standards and the Implications for Adult ESL Teaching

3- What Responsible Adult-Ed ESL Teachers Know about the Adult-Ed ELP Standards

4-Eight Misconceptions to Avoid When Talking about the ELP Standards Integration

5-Why an Effective Integration of the ELP Standards in Adult Ed is Indispensable

What questions do you have about the ELP standards summary?

Please share the ELP standards summary with adult ESL teachers in your network. And subscribe to our adult ed blog to be the first to get our new insights

Free Local Training Events for 2019

Below is a list of local training sessions that might be of interest to you. 

1- Edcamp Columbia, Columbia High School, Lake City, FL

2- Engaging English Language Learners in Science, The Library of Michigan, Lansing, MI

3- Faculty Development Conference, Hyatt Regency, Rosemont, IL

4- 2018-2019 Literacy Specialists Forum Meetings, Community Literacy Center - Morrill Durham, NH

5- Co-Teaching & Collaboration - Sioux Falls, SD

6- February 2019 Experience Day @ CIP Bloomington, IN

7- International Critical Media Literacy Conference, Statesboro, GA

8- EdCamp TABSE 2019, Galveston, TX

What other local training events do you want to add to the list?

Please share these local training events with adult education professionals in your network. And subscribe to our adult ed blog to be the first to get our new insights

What Adult Education professionals Like us Believe

I was part of panel discussion on the future of adult education when someone stood and asked me, “What do people in your adult-ed tribe believe? What’s your philosophy?”

I liked the question. And I happily answered the following:  

I can’t speak for all the adult education professionals in my inner circle or “my tribe.” But I can speak for myself and about the work Coaching for Better Learning does.  

Most adult education professionals in my tribe do things like this:

  • Keep adult students at the center of all planning and classroom decisions.
  • Promote deep-structure learning instead of surface learning, preparing learners for the real world.
  • Lead and change students, transforming them into lifelong learners.
  • Teach, train, and coach using a holistic approach. By “holistic,” I mean
  • Focus on students’ needs, interests, and levels, promoting a race to the top.
  • Promote irreplaceable skills, getting  students ready for the era of artificial intelligence.
  • Create ruckuses and purple cows. By “ruckuses” and “purple cows” I mean work that is different and worth talking about. 

Now, go change your students for the best!

Please share this post with adult education professionals in your network. And subscribe to our adult ed blog to be the first to get our new insights

7 Ways Brain-Based Research Can Work for your Adult Learners

Adult-ed teachers who are really good at what they do know how to leverage brain-based research. You are a good teacher, but you want to be great. You want to make real learning happen. You want to teach like a pro. So, what should you do? Where should you start?

Start by reading about brain-based research. In the past, I have shared several blog posts that might be helpful to you.  

Before you do your reading, let me help with a few quick tips. I recommend 7 ways to make brain-based research work for you and your students.

Let’s jump in:

  1. Practice mindfulness to lower students’ affective filter and get them ready to learn.

  2. Stop and gather everybody's attention before giving instructions.

  3. Always break your instructions into manageable chunks, so it’s accessible to all your students.

  4. Connect all your lessons and allow students to practice target skills over several weeks.

  5. Provide opportunities for students to reflect on their learning.

  6. Use projects and presentations to make sure students think deeply about content over and over again.

  7. Create an anxiety-free classroom. Welcome mistakes, provide corrective feedback, and let students polish their work.

Now, go change your students for the best!

Please share this post with your adult-ed and workforce colleagues. And subscribe to our adult ed blog to be the first to get our new insights

Destructive Lies that Hinder Adult Students Learning

You are a serious adult-ed teacher. You care for your students and want them to do well in class and in life. But there’s a big problem. Really? Yes. Unless you address and debunk the lies students wrestle with, you might not see the best they can do.

Therefore, adult-ed professionals have a responsibility to tell their students the truth. What truth am I talking about? Let me explain.

Most adult-ed students have been exposed to a lot of lies about learning, such as how people learn, what makes people smart, and what they, the students, can or cannot learn.    

So, your best teaching move might be to help students adopt a growth mindset. How? By addressing the lies! I’m sure you are wondering: What EXACTLY are these lies?

Well, here they are.

Think about how you can address them in your classroom:

Lie #1 - You can raise your hand only if you have the correct answer or something smart to say.               

Reaction: As technology guru Seth Godin puts it, “It’s OK to be wrong on the way to being right.”

Lie #2 - Don’t ask dumb questions.

Reaction:  See Lie #1!

Lie #3 - Students who complete their work quickly are smart.

Reaction: When it comes to learning, the process is as important as the product. Thus, students should take the time to think deeply about content. Remember that the classroom is not the Olympic Games!

Lie #4 - Don’t speak if you don't know what you’re talking about.

Reaction: This is misleading because students won’t know if they are wrong unless they share their ideas.

Lie #5 - You should get everything right the first time (if you’re smart).

Reaction: Learning takes time. People who say they got it the first time might be pretending or faking it. Time will tell!  

Lie #6 - STEM is not for everyone.

Reaction: Really, who has the right to say that? Students just need a teacher who can open their eyes and mind to the STEM world. The truth is, students can learn whatever they want as long as they are willing to put in the work and the effort.

Lie #7 - Having good grades means you are smart.

Reaction: In the marketplace, everything comes down to skills and competencies. No employer asks about grades during an interview (unless the employer is a nut!).

There's more...

Lie #8 - Students with high test scores are smart.  

Reaction: See point # 7.  As noted educator Dr. Carol Dweck puts it, “Test scores and measures of achievement tell you where a student is, but they don’t tell you where a student could end up.”  

Lie #9 - If you don’t have a high IQ, you are not smart.

Reaction: In my opinion, the IQ test is a joke. For example, most people would agree Albert Einstein had a very high IQ; he was a genius. But most people fail to recognize that Einstein studied a lot and worked hard to accomplish what he did. He published 450 papers, but he did not magically snap his fingers and write the papers. He had to work at it.  

Lie #10 - You need to go with the flow. Do your best to fit in. Be like the other students.

Reaction: Fitting in is a sure way to be invisible and fail in the marketplace.

Lie #11 - Whatever is not on the test is not important, so don’t worry about it.

Reaction: Students SHOULD worry about it. Students should learn for the real world, not just for a test. Learning is an infinite game. It does not end with the standardized test.    

Now, go tell your learners the truth!

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Deductive vs. Inductive Teaching In Adult Education

One of my connections on LinkedIn sent me a message with this question: “Which approach will help my adult students more: deductive or inductive teaching?” 

Interesting question, isn’t? But what’s the difference between the two approaches? I’m glad you asked! 

Deductive Teaching: Teach the general rules, providing explanations. Then provide examples and exercises in which students can practice and apply the rules.  

Inductive Teaching: Present several examples and exercises, and ask students to try to figure out the patterns and rules at play. Students will need to use their inference skills.  

Now that we have the difference sorted out, let’s tackle the main question:

Which one is better for adult students?

 It all depends. If you want students to think critically and use their cognitive ability, inductive teaching is your best bet. It will make students go deeper into the content and rules. And chances are, students will remember the rules better once they figure them out on their own.

But if you don’t have much time and want to get your points across quickly, deductive teaching should be your go-to strategy. 

Now, go change your students for the best!

Please share this post with your adult-ed and workforce colleagues. And subscribe to our adult ed blog to be the first to get our new insights

10 Habits of Highly Effective Adult-Ed and Workforce Instructors

Someone who reads this adult-ed blog sent me an email and asked, “How do I know if I am a highly effective adult-ed and workforce teacher?”  

OK, I’ll admit this question is more complicated than it sounds. So, instead of sending my response in an email, I discussed the answer over the phone with the person. What was my answer? I knew you would want to know.  

My answer summarized 10 habits of highly effective adult-ed and workforce instructors.

Without further ado, let’s dive in!

  1. You know how to facilitate learning, observe it, measure it, and reinforce it for the benefit of your learners. That is, you teach for mastery. And your students’ results prove it.

  2. You don’t follow a lesson plan like a cook following a recipe. Rather, you are like a chef who modifies the recipe as he or she goes along, sometimes because it’s necessary. Your teaching flows like a work of art!

  3. You teach students the best ways to learn and practice your content. You transform students into lifelong learners.

  4. You never do for learners what they can for themselves!

  5. In your instruction and materials, you celebrate diversity in learning abilities. In other words, you plan based on your knowledge of your students’ levels, interests, and academic needs.

  6. You make it your responsibility to get to know and connect with all your students.

  7. You know how to effectively prepare students for standardized tests. And your students’ success on the tests proves it.

  8. You provide students with clear, timely feedback and allow them to fix their mistakes or refine their work.

  9. You can differentiate surface learning from deep-structure learning and take action to promote the deeper learning.

  10. You are weird. (Yes, you read that right!) You are a great storyteller. You make a ruckus in your classroom. That is, you don’t succumb to the pressure to conform, fit in, and do things like everybody else does. What’s more, students can’t stop talking about your lessons!

Now, go change your students for the best!

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Graceful Adult-Ed Instructors Are Weird

A colleague once said to me, “You always talk about remarkable adult-ed teachers. What is one word you would use to describe a remarkable adult-ed teacher?”

Oh, boy. What a tough question that was! I thought for a few seconds and responded with the following explanation:

“There isn’t one word that can capture the essence of a remarkable adult-ed teacher. But for the lack of a better term, I’d like to pick the word, ‘graceful.’” 

My colleague did the obvious and asked, “Why graceful?” I elaborated:  

Graceful adult-ed instructors

Remarkable adult-ed instructors are graceful because they

  • make learning happen but accept failure and mistakes as part of the learning process.
  • challenge and set the bar high for all students while putting students at the center of all their decisions.
  • are natural leaders. They don’t let students hide behind excuses but instead inspire students to do their best.  
  • promote a race to the top with deep-structure learning and real-world applications
  • make a difference by transforming students into lifelong learners.
  • bring grace to teaching and their environment.  
  • resist the pressure to conform, comply, fit in, and do things like everybody else does— they are weird.
  • are excellent at connecting with people; they are approachable.

In other words, they are razor-sharp but as warm as a summer’s day.

Now, go change your students for the best and be graceful!

Before you close this page, could you share this post with your fellow adult-ed instructors and administrators. And don't forget to subscribe to our adult ed blog to be the first to get our new insights