In the "Discussion of Learner Leadership" hosted on the Adult Literacy Professional Development Discussion List (formerly known as NIFL-AALPD), participants listed several things that they have learned from students, as well as what teacher qualities they believe matter to adult learners.
From Holly Dilatush:
- I have learned that in striving to maintain an atmosphere of dignity, of acknowledging the worth and potential of every learner, it is often a tiny, seemingly insignificant detail that is of paramount inspiration and motivation to a learner new to any adult education environment.
- Examples of such details from personal experience:
- using green dry erase markers as well as black and blue and red!!!
- using learners' names and general interests in lesson examples/illustrations (relevance!)
- NOT rushing out the door the moment class is over (being available/receptive)
- posting announcements of local community events
- ATTENDING a community event in THEIR neighborhood
- having a live plant in the classroom
- willingly sharing my cell phone #
- reading stories written by other adult learners
- celebrating the successes of other adult learners
- pot-luck events at the learning center,
- teaching them (or offering to!) to use email
- guest speakers to the classroom
- talking about my pets!
- sharing personal photos (introducing my family to the class)
- shaking their hands on the first day
- that genuineness is vital.
- that so many have minimal, if any, positive prior learning experiences to bolster their confidence.
- that is a mistake to underestimate ANYONE's intangible participation and contributions (the mantra
- suspend judgment / suspend reaction" comes to mind!).
From Katrina Hinson:
ALOT! I think this is an integral part for any adult educator - to be open to what your students can teach you. My students bring me into their world - they show me what life is like from their point of view - which in turn allows their life experiences to play into their learning experiences. I'm more open minded and less likely to judge my students on first impressions:
- to look beyond the physical appearance and even their "rough" personalities to see the student underneath all the layers.
- to see beyond the obvious and seek what one can become rather than what one currently is at the moment.
From Micki Greer-Jaggars:
I have learned far too much to mention from my students...examples:
- cultural differences
- obstacles to learning
- pressures of raising children
- problems related to a low income
- learners want their time spent in the adult ed. classes to be worthwhile
- learners want to see their educational/career-readiness needs/goals met.
Therefore, I believe we teachers can learn an enormous amount from our learners.
From Jeff Fantine:
The most common response that I have heard over the years from learners who have been successful in ABLE programs - in terms of what "made the difference" or "kept them involved 'til they achieved success" - related to:
- getting respect from the teacher
- a teacher who cared about them as an individual, and
- teachers who made them feel like worthwhile people.