Discussion Summary - Learning Leadership April 18 - May 2nd 2005

Learner Leadership Discussion Summary

BLAST Project, New Mexico

Guest Participant, Will Grant, began the learner leadership discussion with information pertaining to BLAST (Building Leadership through Adult Student Training) - New Mexico’s learner leadership project.

BLASTS Questions addressed were:

  • Would you tell us how the Blast Project evolved?
  • Was the Blast Project always involved with developing and delivering teacher training?
  • Why did Blast became involved with teacher training, and how did that happen?
  • Has there been an impact from the student-led PD that resulted in improving things like retention? Teacher satisfaction? Other?

Will writes, “Teacher training evolved as the major focus of BLAST because the ABE field in New Mexico asked for student led PD and because teacher training was a priority for the student leaders.” Will further explains that BLAST student leaders’ priority is to bridge the gap between students' worlds and adult basic education teachers and programs by: helping learners navigate the system; strengthening communication between learners and their teachers and programs; and offering teachers important insights into the world view of adult basic education students.

BLAST incorporates learner leadership into professional development through various ways, including (but not limited to) tutor training and a Teacher’s Foundation Course which hosts a performance by the BLAST Social Impact Theatre.

Learners’ Role in PD

Adult learners bring a wealth of life experiences to the classroom and to
teacher training. Some participants discussed what they have learned from
their students
, and what they believe students contribute to teacher
training
. Teachers offered a variety of questions (Teacher Questions for
Learner Leaders
), they would ask of learner leaders in teacher professional
development, and discussed at length the benefits of learners leading teacher
training."

One participant warned the group about taking too narrow a focus on student roles in professional development. There are many avenues for dialoguing with and listening to students, so in what ways can student voice influence professional development and decision making?

Participants shared several practices for making student voice central to professional development and integral in decision making, including activities such as:

Realizing Strengths

A teacher asked, “How would you bring the student to the understanding of what they have to offer [in teacher training]?” Tips included strategies for shifting thinking from motivating to mobilizing students.

Barriers to Learner Involvement

Participants addressed the question “Why don’t more programs involve students?” Some ideas were shared, and later participants addressed similar questions (but in greater depth) while discussing “challenges of learner leadership.” Additionally, participants explored strategies for understanding student perspectives.

Experiences with Learner Leadership

Several adult learner leaders, practitioners, and professional development staff shared their experiences with learner leadership, including colleagues from:

  • Mass AAL and SABES, Massachusetts
  • M.O.M.S. (Motivating Other Mothers for Success}, Texas
  • Read Santa Clara, California
  • The Student Action Health Team, Massachusetts
  • Vermont Adult Learning (VAL) and Learning Works, Vermont

Additionally, participants discussed learners’ roles in Technology PD; and Health Literacy. Several health literacy web links were provided, and the group heard from the The Student Action Health Team at Operation Bootstrap in Lynn, Massachusetts about learner leadership in health literacy.

Understanding Student Involvement

Participants then led into a fascinating discussion of what student involvement really means, what it is and is not from learner leaders and teachers perspectives.

Who Gets Involved and Why?
List colleague David Rosen describes reasons why learners may get involved with programs, because some “…develop other goals and do want to be involved in other ways; some don't. Some come to the program and need to be involved in other ways right from the beginning; they need to have other purposeful roles in the program in order to accomplish their goals as a learner -- they need to be a contributing member of the community where they are giving as well as receiving.”

What Is Student Involvement?
Learner leaders and teachers shared their perspectives on what student involvement is, but as Guest Participant Angela Childers noted, “It seems the second we define student involvement is the instant that students lose interest.” Participants agreed that student involvement has a range of possibilities, but that student involvement is ultimately about students having a voice in the program and in decisions that matter to them. Students create the vision for involvement, for the project or position, such that their involvement equals the interest they have in what is at stake. Student involvement is a learner-teacher partnership, renegotiating the power dynamics inherent in traditional learner-teacher roles. Student involvement fills the gap that seems to exist between students and teachers because of this traditional power differential. Learners have greater responsibility by being involved, and it offers their classroom peers student leadership models.

Student involvement can come in many forms, and participants shared a list of student roles that learner leaders may fill at the program.

Challenges of Learner Leadership

Participants listed several challenges of student involvement and possible solutions to address them, including:

Blaming the Student
One participant cited lack of student maturity (in younger students) as the reason why student leadership would likely not work in her program. “Not all learners in an adult ed program are "adults" in maturity or responsibility...They don't want to work, they don't want to take ownership of their own futures even after the difficulties they have faced of public education and even worse.”

Time Constraints
Others mentioned challenges that accompany time constraints, and offered suggestions: make learner leadership a part of the in-class curriculum, and make time for professional development to teach teachers how this is done.

Convincing Program Administrators
Participants offered strategies to “make the case” for student leadership:

  1. Student leadership is an accepted “best practice” in ABE. In ProLiteracy’s Accreditation Standards, learner involvement is recognized as a national standard for improving the quality of volunteer literacy services and achieving organizational success
    http://www.proliteracy.org/proliteracy_america/accreditation.asp
  2. Student leadership could provide first-hand, positive public relations
  3. Learner leaders (from programs that actively support student involvement) could come speak with learners, teachers, and program administrators about getting involved.

Adult Learner-ism
Participants then discussed “adult learnerism” as a challenge of student involvement. Adult learnerism was described as the concept of (well-meaning) practitioners viewing current and former adult learners with their deficits (as opposed to their assets) in mind, thus placing them into one category, marginalizing them. In speaking from his experiences with some adult learners, Guest Participant Ernest Best discussed the marginalizing effects of adult learnerism. Ernest shared that many adult learners do not see themselves as the “challenge” to the advancement of adult learner leadership, but feel that they are viewed by some practitioners as such. Ernest shared Freire’s Banking Model of Education as one common example. A second example he cites is persistence/retention, which he states is “mainly attributed to the lack of the adult learner’s ability to adhere to her, or his educational, and life goals, a character flaw.” Ernest encourages practitioners to open themselves up to new, transformative ways of thinking. He writes, “It must be recognized by practitioners about their students, that in terms of success, the sky is truly the limit. The barriers are in the mind, and not always in the mind of the adult learner.”

Student/Teacher Power Differential and Paradigm Shift
Participants discussed issues of ‘real’ equality between students and teachers, and strategies that might lead to a greater sharing of power between the two, including: participatory education, student leadership, open communication and trust between the students and teacher, and teacher professional development. Some offered examples of how teachers could become learners, share learning experiences, and strategies teachers can use to draw upon existing learner expertise and provide opportunities for learners to become classroom instructors. List colleague Eileen Eckert noted how a teacher paradigm shift might direct our attention to power relationships in society as a whole, and through partnership, teachers and learners might become “…co-investigators of the sources of some of the problems we all face, and collaborators in finding solutions.”

VALUE Training

VALUE training helps programs partner with adult learners and learner leaders to develop student leadership organizations that also compliment the goals of the program. State professional development systems can play an important role in supporting learner leadership by providing several support mechanisms for both learners and practitioners. Guest Participant Will Grant gave an overview of the VALUE training components and VALUE Executive Director, Marty Finsterbusch, answered specific questions:

Where did the VALUE training come from?

Why provide the training?

What does the training do?

How does the training work?

Where has the training been held?

How does one get the training in your state?

Where is the VALUE training going?

Several practitioners and learner leaders from Vermont shared their experiences of how programs in their state became involved with VALUE.

The discussion ended with sharing web resources for VALUE News and updates, and some participants shared what they learned from the discussion, and next steps (if applicable).

Back to Top



Learner Leadership Full Discussion


1. Blast Project, New Mexico


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2049] Blast Project, New Mexico
From:jataylor_at_utk.edu

Hello again, all,
To start off our discussion, I have a couple of questions for Will.

Will, I noticed you mentioned that the VALUE Core Leadership training has a project template for teacher training that was written based upon the BLAST system for students teaching teachers. Before we get into the discussion of the VALUE training next week, would you tell us how the Blast Project evolved? Was the Blast Project always involved with developing and delivering teacher training? Why did Blast became involved with teacher training, and how did that happen?

Thanks so much,
Jackie


Subject:[NIFL-AALPD:2052] Re: Blast Project, New Mexico
From: BlastGrant_at_aol.com

Teacher training evolved as the major focus of BLAST because the ABE field in New Mexico asked for student led PD and because teacher training was a priority for the student leaders.

> From the beginning, the BLAST student leaders' priority has been bridging the gap between students' worlds and ABE. They have worked on both sides of the divide. They help students navigate the ABE system and find their voices so that they can communicate with their teachers and programs. And they have worked to help teachers understand where ABE students are coming from.

The BLAST project began from a wish of the New Mexico Adult Education Association to have students on the state board of directors. But from the first meeting of the BLAST project, we all saw that there was a really powerful role for students to play in teacher training.

The first BLAST meeting happened at the ABE state conference 1996. At the end of the BLAST meeting, the students made a presentation to the educators at the conference.

The topics that the students talked about -- the transformative effect of education on their lives, the complicated dynamics between students and teachers, the role of culture in education for immigrants -- had more depth than anyone expected. Most of all, what came out was how different the students' view of education was from the educators'.

Over the next two years, BLAST got more and more invitations to present at PD conferences. We were also asked to help ABE programs train their own students to make PD presentations.

The consistent feedback from teachers was that they were learning about who their students were from the BLAST team. The teachers were learning about ABE students' perspectives, emotions, mindsets and cultures. The BLAST team were not representing all students -- they were representing themselves -- but they could give teachers important insights into ABE's students. Over the years, the BLAST student leaders have been men and women who are able to articulate the world views of Adult Students.

Gilbert Zamora, is our cofounder. He began as a literacy student and is now our Vice-president. The way he explains it is this: " When that Adult student comes into a classroom, he is walking into the educator's world. When we teach teachers, what we are saying is 'Welcome to our world'"


Will Grant
Director of Education
Voz, inc
(505) 989 1699


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2054] Re: Blast Project, New Mexico
From: kraft_at_ypsilibrary.org

My name is Blair Kraft and I'm a Program Coordinator at Washtenaw Literacy. Part of my job is tutor training and as a former learner-student in our program I feel I add insight. We put all our tutors through a fifteen hour training with a lot of time spent on sensitivity. This is the part of the training most of our former teachers tell me is there favorite part. I think the more students work to help educators in the training of teachers the better. I feel the most important thing for the students to remember is the teachers are not the enemy. The best way to learn is to teach and maybe the best way to teach is to learn.

Blair Kraft
Program Coordinator
Washtenaw Literacy
(734)879-1320


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2055] Re: Blast Project, New Mexico
From: jataylor_at_utk.edu

Hello Will, All,
Thanks Will, for the background about the Blast project - very interesting! If any of our other guests or list subscribers have experience with adult learner-led PD, I hope you will tell us about it.

Will, is there anything more you might add about what triggered the interest in learner-led teacher professional development? If there are any teachers and adult learner leaders on the list from New Mexico, I hope you will please comment from your experience as well.

Also Will, have you seen an impact from these trainings? Has there been an impact from the student-led PD that resulted in improving things like retention? Teacher satisfaction? Other?

Thanks so much!
Best,
Jackie

Jackie Taylor, NIFL-AALPD List Moderator, jataylor_at_utk.edu


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2058] Re: Blast Project, New Mexico
From: nancygray9_at_msn.com

Hello all,
I'd like to respond to your question, Jackie. At the Teacher Foundations Course here in New Mexico, a two day intensive for new ABE teachers, they always host a theater performance by the BLAST Social Impact Theater.

In the theater the learner-leaders/actors create skits based on the lives of adult learners. These stories range from parents hiding their inability to read from their children, adults returning to school after many years of struggle, domestic violence, alcoholism and the triumphs of reaching their goals. Actors then stay in character and then dialogue with the audience about the skit and the characters.

Teachers often report that the theater performance is the most powerful piece of the training, because it gives teachers an opportunity to more deeply understand who their students are. Teachers experience increased empathy and patience, but they also start to really see their students as adults with adult lives.

The theater wakes people up, teachers and learners both, and now it is an integral part of the training for all new teachers.--Nancy

Back to Top


2. Learners' Role In Teacher Training


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2050] learners' role in teacher training
From: jataylor_at_utk.edu

Hi all,
I hope you will share your questions on the list regarding the role of learners leading teacher training. I have a couple of questions for us, that might help get things started.

For learner leaders and teachers:
What do adult students bring to teacher training?

For teachers and professional developers:
What have you learned from your students? If you had the opportunity to learn from students in teacher training, what kinds of questions would you ask?

I look forward to hearing from you,
Jackie

Jackie Taylor, NIFL-AALPD List Moderator, jataylor_at_utk.edu http://wiki.literacytent.org/index.php/DiscussionOfLearnerLeadership


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2053] Re: learners' role in teacher training
From: Holly Dilatush

Hello all,
[aside: This is my first time posting to this list-serv; I welcome constructive criticism -- so please alert me if I am posting inappropriately or annoyingly in any way; thanks!]

[I am an adult educator, presently teaching university EFL in South Korea, but with several years of elementary, middle school, a little high school, literacy volunteering, ESL, GED, and other experiences; I've also worked as volunteer coordinator and learner support specialist in administrative positions]

My ponderings:

Adult students bring life experience, a diverse wealth of life experience and coping skills, decision-making skills, a ground-level awareness of the realities and limitations of 'the system,' and... habits -- often entrenched habits -- (and are often unaware of those habits).

Many adult students bring determination -- a resolve -- that may be tenuous or 'steel' -- open-minded or tunnel-focused.

Many adult students bring enthusiasm and idealism -- energizers!

< < What have you learned from your students? If you had the opportunity to learn from students in teacher training, what kinds of questions would you ask?> >

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!).
[Just as the dynamics of a classroom change when any one person is absent, when any one new person joins in -- so are the dynamics of a teacher training altered with each new contributor].

Questions: (with an option to pass on any!, and the possibility to submit answers anonymously, and with a copy of the list of questions provided for them to take home, ponder, share).

? What is the number one reason why you are attending this training today?

? Try to recall a moment / an experience in an adult classroom when something or someone surprised you (positively or negatively). Write as many details as possible about that expereience --

? Try to recall a moment/ an experience in an adult classroom that was negative [and repeat the question for positive -- or approach it with a " best /worst" or " frustration/success" ] for you in some way -- write as many details as possible about it...

? Describe, with as many details as possible, what would be to you an " ideal" adult education classroom -- consider size, cost, location, equipment, # of students/teachers, time of class, length of class semesters/sessions, etc.)

? Describe, with as much detail as possible, an effective teacher... an in-effective teacher.

? Do you think you would learn better if you had a learning partner or small team (someone that you would be regularly required to meet and work with on the same problem(s)-- or do you think you would accomplish more if you were assigned to work independently? WHY  ? [If you answer partner/team, would your answer be the same if it were a partner/team chosen by someone else or only if YOU chose the partner/team?] WHY?

? What has been one of the easiest assignments or project or tests you have succeeded with during the past year? What has been one of the most difficult (or most distressing) assignments or projects or tests you have not felt as successful in during the past year? Can you explain why? Do you feel you were offered an option /a suggestion / an opportunity as to how to change the results? Explain. (If your answer is No, do you feel you should have/ could have been? Explain)

? Has there been a time, IN CLASS, where you have felt that a teacher was not qualified / not prepared to adequately explain something? Describe with as much detail as you can recall.

? What educational qualifications do you think should be required for an adult educator? Why?

? Describe a good learner. Describe a good teacher. Compare your lists -- are they the same?? WHY? / Why not?

List the responsibilities of an effective, qualified teacher. List the responsibilities of an effective learner. Compare your lists -- are they the same? Why / Why not?

? Do you use email and if yes, how often do you use email? (repeat Internet)

? Online course (" blended" course possibilities) -- Do you think you would benefit from a program that began with and involved continuing minimal but routine face-to-face interaction and support, but with the majority of interaction and assignments and feedback occuring via website and email? Why / Why not? Would you be interested in trying participation in such an endeavor? Why or why not? Do you think it would be fair to charge the same fee (or less or more) for such a course? Why or why not?

? What was the most valuable part of today's training for you? (why?)

? What was the least valuable part of today's training for you? (why?)

? Would you be interested in attending another training? If yes, what would you like to see different (# of people attending, location, topics, length, demographics of people invited to attend, etc.)

? Would you recommend a similar workshop/training experience to/for all of the other learners in the most recent class you attended? Why / why not? What might you change about a future training opportunity?

Holly

Holly (Dilatush), also known as " Ms. D"
Visiting English Instructor
Institute of Foreign Language Education
The Catholic University of Korea
Buchon, South Korea

" Live with intention. Share inside-out smiles, inspire hope, seek awe and nurture in nature."

" Encourage, enable, enact an easing of global poverty..."

www.tabulas.com/~smilin7 and www.tabulas.com/~blogblossoms

" It is not enough to be compassionate, you must act..."


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2056] Re: learners' role in teacher training
From: Katrina Hinson

For learner leaders and teachers:
What do adult students bring to teacher training?
This part I can't really answer because I don't know of any adult learners who've actually come back to " teacher training" . Most of the time it's like once the student's pass through the classroom, they're pushed on to other things but rarely looked at in terms of how they can improve the program for those left behind.


For teachers and professional developers:
What have you learned from your students?

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. My students have taught me to look beyond the physical appearance and even their " rough" personalities to see the student underneath all the layers. They've taught me to see beyond the obvious and seek what one can become rather than what one currently is at the moment.

I asked some of my students today, what they thought they could teach a teacher. One of the things that they all had in common was that they could teach teachers to care for the student. As one young lady put it, she's more inclined to attend a class when she knows the teacher truly cares about her as an individual and not a number. Several stated that some teachers " connect" better than others - others don't connect at all. It's when the teachers don't connect that the student picks up on that missing connection and when a problem arises is less likely to return to the class or stay motivated and active in the class. Students said they notice a difference in attendance in the classes where the teachers make extra effort to treat them like people than when the teacher doesn't see them that way. For instance, if a student were absent, instead of immediately telling a student " you need to make up the hours you missed" , instead say " glad to have you back" or " You were missed." The latter two imply a willingness to see beyond the " rules" that are so often felt to be thrown at the basic skills students. It opens the door way between the student and teacher.

If you had the opportunity to learn from students in teacher training, what kinds of questions would you ask?

  1. Is the material interesting?
  2. What motivates you to keep coming back to class each time?
  3. What do you find least appealing about the program you are in?
  4. What do you find most appealing about the program you are in?

I can't think of any others at the moment, but I'm sure as the discussion progresses I'll have others.

Katrina Hinson


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2057] Re: learners' role in teacher training
From: Nancy Gray

Hi everyone. My name is Nancy Gray and I'm working in New Mexico. I loved all of your ponderings, Holly, and it got me thinking about the work we're doing here with persistence.

Many programs focus on retention, but we know that adult learners come and go when they need to and we need to trust that they're doing what they need to do. So we've been reframing the argument using the current research to create persistence supports at our programs to help students reach their goals even if they have to stop out for a while.

Your ideas and ponderings all seem like persistence supports: the support that we give at the program, classroom or personal level to help students reach their goals. How does this apply to teacher training? We're working with teachers and learners to be in dialogue with each other about what keeps students coming to class, why they stop coming, and what can we do to help them reach their goals?

The adult learners are the experts on how well a program or classroom works for them, so why not ask them for the answers? Holly you're doing this as well. In the trainings that we're developing teachers learn to facilitate discussions with their students. After the discussion teachers and learners then decide on some action they can take or a project they can do that comes out of the discussion that will support persistence in their classroom.

Is anyone else doing discussions with students as part of teacher training or in conjunction with teacher training? --Nancy


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2059] Re: learners' role in teacher training
From: mabbottd_at_seattleu.edu

Welcome, Nancy!

I am studying educational leadership at Seattle University. I agree with you about how adult learners are the experts on which programs and classrooms work for them and I contend that the same theory could be applied when addressing a learner's persistence.

He knows where the social, cultural and environmental resources are, just as he knows what social, cultural and environmental barriers he has to face.

I am currently learning about persistence mapping and spent a recent interviewing an adult learner on this subject. It was interesting to learn about his awareness of the divergent cultural barriers AND benefits held over from his childhood learning.

Sometimes simply mapping the geographical area, i.e. home, schools, libraries and facilities can help a learner develop a better (and at times more honest) picture of both their resources and distractions.

Donald

S E A T T L E U N I V E R S I T Y
Donald L. Mabbott Project and Content Specialist
Email: mabbottd_at_seattleu.edu


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2060] Re: learners' role in teacher training
From: Nancy Gray

Hi Donald, et al.
I'd love to know more about this. Do you have a guideline for how you do the mapping, etc.? What are you learning specifically?--Nancy


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2062] Re: learners' role in teacher training
From: jataylor_at_utk.edu

Hello Everyone,
Thanks for the energizing list discussion, and to Holly and Katrina for the questions! I thought I'd share with you more responses (from TN teachers) to the question: " If you had the opportunity to learn from students in teacher training, what kinds of questions would you ask?"

Are there any more questions to add to what's been shared thus far? Do program directors and other practitioners have questions to add as well?

Feel free to post to the list or email me direct < jataylor_at_utk.edu> . If you email me direct, I will compile responses and post them back to the list without attribution, and I'll also post them on the ALE wiki at: http://wiki.literacytent.org/index.php/DiscussionOfLearnerLeadership

Thanks! Jackie Taylor, NIFL-AALPD List Moderator, jataylor_at_utk.edu

" How do you learn material or any task best?"

" What keeps you coming to class?"

" What are the [learning] motivations of adults in your situation?"

" How does the teacher fit into your idea of accomplishing the goals you have set in your life?"

" How can I provide resources for you and stay out of your way while you strive to accomplish your goals?"

" What can I do better to help you learn and stay with the program until you reach your goals?"


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2064] Re: learners' role in teacher training
From: Sally Gabb

Hi all - as a professional development staff person in Massachusetts and a sponsor for learner leadership, I appreciate the questions put forward by the Tennessee teachers. However, I hope teachers would also work towards asking - what are your strengths? What skills do you feel good about? What do you feel you could teach someone else? As long as we continue to act the 'teacher' at all times, only asking questions that reinforce the 'teacher-student' power relationship, we can't move towards a more mutual learning environment in which we constantly learn as well as teach. I like the questions - 'How can I provide resources towards helping you reach your goals' - I don't think learners necessarily want us to stay out of their way, only to respect their strengths and to engage in dialogue based in mutual respect that seeks to find strengths and skills as well as needs.

I continue to realize that in every conversation with learners I have to remember to listen as a learner - not to make assumptions - and to work towards building new knowledge together. Our culture continues to reinforce the 'teacher/learner' differential - our learners often reinforce this out of training and cultural orientation. It is always a learning process! Sally Gabb, SABES SE, Massachusetts


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2068] Re: learners' role in teacher training
From: Erik Jacobson

Hi. All of this discussion has been very interesting.

In thinking about student lead teacher training, are there good models or best practices when it comes to supporting or fostering student leadership teams that are made up of students from a variety of classes (ESL, ABE, etc.)? I am thinking of this both in terms of internal teams (within one agency or program) and multi-program teams.

Thanks.

Erik Jacobson


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2069] learning from learners
From: Micki Greer Jaggars, McNairy County, Tennessee

I believe learners can share important information with teachers in order to improve instruction. First, 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, etc. I believe learners want their time spent in the adult ed. classes to be worthwhile. I believe learners wnat to see their educational/career-readiness needs/goals met. Therefore, I believe we teachers can learn an enormous amount from our learners.

Micki Greer Jaggars, McNairy County, Tennessee


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2073] Re: learners' role in teacher training
From: BlastGrant_at_aol.com

Here's a model we've used in New Mexico.

We build many of our student workshops around a question or a theme. For example  : What can a teacher learn from a student? What makes a good ABE teacher? What should every teacher know if they are going to teach adult students?

The key to a student workshop is group preparation. The students meet together to talk through the theme together. They listen to each others' ideas. They speak their ideas out-loud to find the words to express their ideas and feelings. The meetings build a team for the students. They are presenting to a room full of teachers, and that is intimidating. Spending time together sharing ideas lets students meet the room full of teachers as a team.

During the prep, the students find the main themes they want to talk about. Our trainer asks questions that they think the teachers might ask them to give them time to work out their answers.

In the workshop, the students begin by speaking for a few minutes each. Each student has one main point they want to make to teachers. This opening gets ideas and themes into the room. Then we have a discussion between students and teachers for the rest of the workshop. We try to keep 75% of our time for Q& A and discussion.

Discussion works to students' strengths. Answering teachers' questions is lot easier than figuring out what teachers want to hear and then planning out a full hour workshop. Students in BLAST prefer to hear teachers questions and then respond to questions from the heart. Even shy students who don't think they'll want to speak jump in once the conversation gets going. The topics are interesting and they realize they have something to say.

One key agreement we make with students is that they do not have to speak if they don't want to. That gives them the permission to keep quiet if they are uncomfortable. We've never had a student be in a workshop and not speak. But that agreement has been a critical source of trust for students. We also emphasize that they can always answer a question with " I don't know," and that answer is sufficient.

Facilitation is also critically important. Our facilitators begin by setting ground rules: Respect, each student is speaking from their experience, not proclaiming truth; Teachers can disagree and students are not always right, but we encourage them to listen to how students think, even if they disagree.

Facilitators rephrase questions from teachers if students don't understand (teachers can speak with jargon they don't realize is jargon, e.g. words like assessment, retention) . Facilitators also ask students to clarify if their point is not clear. Students speak in stories. They speak from their experiences and the experiences of other adult students. We encourage that. Its their style. At the end of a story, we ask them what the story teaches us -- what's their main point, or the moral of the story.

Finally, we write the main ideas from the student/teacher discussion on a wall chart. Dialogues are great, but they can end with so many ideas that its hard to know what you are taking home. So we write it all down. We have found its much more satisfying for teachers, especially concrete thinkers who want the brass tacks -- not just stories from students.


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2074] Re: learners' role in teacher training
From: Katrina Hinson

What an awesome model. At my school, myself and another person are chairing a committee to work on growing the professional development offered in our Basic Skills program, on a local level. It's currently very minimal within the dept itself and the only time we really get professional development is when it's offered by the state. We're hoping to change that over time but it's definitely an uphill battle.

I love the model below and I definitely think I want to make sure we incorporate something similar to this at somewhere in our training plan.

Regards
Katrina Hinson


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2075] Re: learners' role in teacher training
From: jataylor_at_utk.edu

Hi Katrina,
Are there adult learners and/or learner leaders on your professional development committee? If not, is this something you might consider? Why or why not? I'm wondering what some of the successes and challenges are (or could be) in partnering with learners at this level of program involvement.

Thanks so much,

Jackie


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2075] Re: learners' role in teacher training
From: Katrina Hinson

At the moment there are no adult learner/leaders on the committee and it probably wouldn't go over well if I suggested it. The two of us meet resistance even trying to implement PD or a PD plan on any ongoing basis. People have grown complacent over time and a lot of older instructors don't want to give up any of their time on the weekend; others just don't seem to care. Some say they want PD and then when push comes to shove, the actual implementation, something inevitably comes up to get in the way and it's allowed. The biggest challenge at the moment is getting the support for the PD plan and implementation in the long run - to recognize it's value and it's need. I think involving learners would be a good idea. I do that a lot in my classroom already so for me it seems natural..but for others, I'm not sure that's the case.

Did I answer you question and do you have any suggestions?

Katrina


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2080] Re: learners' role in teacher training From: Janet Isserlis

I'm wondering if we're asking the right questions.

If the end goal is to involve adult learners in informing teachers' work, it seems that sometimes we're getting in our own way with the language we're using. Yes, it's professional development, but it's also conversation, listening, learning, being respectful and otherwise, I hope, actively engaging learners and colleagues in conversations about what's working, what isn't, what changes can be made, finding information/resources, acknowledging strength and expertise and working to make learning and teaching better.

So, in some programs, there are committees, in others there are meetings, or PD days -- whatever all it is, I'm wondering how we go about gaining learner input into the decisions that need to be made?

Janet


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2107] Re: learners' role in teacher training
From: Emma Torrez

What needs to happen is that the learners adults not children. Some programs act like we are children. As much as I don't like meeting we adult learners in California have two meetings a year to fine out what each other are doing, and I have staff meeting and work as we all know we all have meeting.

Emma Torrez
Learner Advocate
Read Santa Clara
(408) 615-2959
etorrez_at_ci.santa-clara.ca.us


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2081] Re: learners' role in teacher training
From: Katrina Hinson

I think the first step is for everyone to see learners as more than students; to see them as individuals with something worthwhile to contribute and not an FTE, or an end product - but to really see them as other adults/people with ideas opinions etc from which new insights can be gained. For that to happen though, means a primary shift in thinking for some people - especially administrators - to understand that the student has something worthwhile to contribute. People have to WANT The dialogue, and then LISTEN to the dialogue first, before anything can come out of it.

Katrina


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2082] Re: learners' role in teacher training
From: Lynn Pinder

One way of engaging learners in the PD process is through the use of panel discussions. This is a less intrusive way of engaging both learners and professionals in conversations about what works in adult ed/literacy. The panel should consist of learners who are prepared to talk about their experiences at adult ed/literacy organizations, their short-term and long-term educational goals, the challenges they faced trying to meet their educational goals, and what they need from adult education practitioners to help them meet achieve academic success. Afterwards, practitioners and program administrators are given the opportunity to ask the learners questions.

The discussion should be moderated by a facilitator. If it is just one organization and its learners hosting the panel discussion, the organization should get someone outside of the agency to facilitate the discussion. The learners should have the opportunity to invite individuals who provide them support (i.e. family members, friends, teachers). The audience for the panel discussion would consist primarily of practitioners and program administrators, but would include guests of the learners.

The panel discussions are a good way to trigger initial conversation between the two groups - learners and practitioners. This model worked really well in DC when a number of different learners participated from a number of different adult literacy organizations as part of a professional development session for Lifelong Learning Coaches.

Lynn Pinder
Program Associate
DC Children & Youth Investment Trust Corporation
1400 Sixteenth Street, NW Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 347-4441
(202) 347-3256/fax
www.cyitc.org


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2085] Student roles in PD: Panel Discussions
From: DJRosen_at_theworld.com

NIFL-AALPD Colleagues,

Thanks Lynn. Panel discussions are an excellent way to involve learners in professional development. In orientation-to-the-field sessions, my colleagues at the Adult Literacy Resource Institute in Boston have used panels which include both teachers and learners, from schools, CBOs, volunteer programs, and other kinds of programs. The panelists present their perspectives, from their experience, about what is expected in the field from practitioners, and what the work is like -- its joys and frustrations. We were often told that his has often been the best part of the orientation.

My all-time favorite panel was one I helped put together for a statewide adult education conference in Massachusetts a few years ago. The session attendees were all practitioners, mostly teachers -- and lots of them. To our surprise, the session was standing room only. The panelists were all learners, carefully chosen. We had one meeting, a run-through a few days before the conference, in which we listened to what each person would say -- and together made suggestions on how to make it clearer. As Will pointed out earlier, preparation is very important -- for comfort and quality.

The title of the session was " Adult Learner Roles in Addition to being a Student." One woman, an ESOL student from Peru, talked about her role as a Spanish teacher. She was teaching a basic Spanish class for adults when she learned about the ESOL class she later enrolled in -- she heard about it from one of her students -- a woman who, when she enrolled in the ESOL class became her teacher. I learned about this when I met her and asked, in a general sort of way, how did you hear about your ESOL program? She answered " From one of my students." I said, " From one of the students in the ESOL class?" She said " No, from one of my students, in the Spanish Class I am teaching." This conversation was eye-opening.

Another panelist, a man from Haiti, was an External Diploma Student, preparing for his Adult Diploma. He told us that at his program, when ESOL students had asked if they could also study math, the teachers and administrators said that no one there knew how to teach math. He pointed out to the teachers that among them there was a man who was an experienced math teacher. He had taught math in elementary school and to adults in his country. The program had the wisdom to hire him immediately. He got his high school diploma, and has been the program's math teacher now for many years. Each panelist had a story like this, a role s/he had played as a program recruiter, counselor, adult literacy theater group actor -- all interesting roles, all in addition to being a student.

This panel got the highest ratings at the conference that year. Over the years, teachers who were there told me it caused them to think differently about adult learners, as valuable resources to the program.

David J. Rosen

DJRosen_at_theworld.com


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2108] Re: Student roles in PD: Panel Discussions
From: Emma Torrez

I our program we have adult learners sign up to talk at orientation for new learners that come into our program and they speak at tutor orientation also. They also do workshop for learners at a local, state and at the notional level at different conference. In our program adult learners called the Learners' Council they do found raisers so to get money so that we could take other adult learner in our program to confernece.

Emma Torrez
Learner Advocate
Read Santa Clara
(408) 615-2959
etorrez_at_ci.santa-clara.ca.us


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2088] More on models for learner-led PD
From: jataylor_at_utk.edu

Hi all,
I have a few more questions regarding models of PD that involve learners in professional development for practitioners:

Will, we've discussed starting with learners' stories as a way in to the design and delivery of the teacher PD, but I'd like to know more about how these stories are used to address teachers' concerns. Would you say more in that regard?

David and Lynn, you both shared very interesting examples of student involvement on panels for professional development. Is there anything more you could tell us about how that practice evolved? Where did the idea originate? What specific need was it addressing at the time? What successes or challenges did you have with introducing the idea to others? What tips do you have for others in getting something similar started?

Blair, I am curious about the tutor training. Will you tell us more about the model, and of the sensitivity training in particular? How was/is the training designed/delivered?

Thanks, all, and have a great weekend!

Jackie


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2089] Re: learners' role in teacher training
From: Will Grant

Janet makes a great point that we can take too narrow a focus on the roles students can play in PD. It does not have to be a workshop presented by students. There are many avenues for dialogue and listening to students.

Student voice can influence professional development when PD staff ask students how their teachers should be trained. Asking students " What do teachers need to know in order to teach adults?" brings out interesting responses. It can be done with focus groups, informal discussions with students, or in class discussions.

Students can also produce teacher training materials like essays and information sheets for teachers. We've done it as writing exercises for GED and ESL classes. A lot of what students produce may not be usable, but some it will be. The writing can be sifted and compiled. Earlier postings had lists of questions from teachers to students that can be used to generate student writings.

Students can imagine workshop content for teachers. For example, asking students to think of classroom scenarios that they have experienced and then posing the scenario for teachers to think through how they could handle them. An example is a classroom with a mix of teen age and middle-aged students. Younger students are disruptive in the eyes of older students and the older students are condescending in the younger students' eyes. Teachers can be posed that scenario and asked to come up with what to do. (That scenario was posed by students to a potential teacher during a hiring process at an ABE program).

Will Grant


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2090] Re: learners' role in teacher training
From: Will Grant

Another avenue for student input into PD decision making besides presentations.

In 2002, we did a statewide action research project where we asked students three questions: What makes a good ABE teacher, how should teachers be trained, and how should teachers be evaluated? We had facilitated focus groups at local ABE programs.  !7 programs participated, each with small groups of students (most of them as 30 minute discussions in ABE and ESL classes). All told, 100 students participated and they represented a good cross section of New Mexico ABE. A month later, we held two state level meetings where we gathered students representatives from the local programs to discuss the results of the focus group and compile them into a report.

BLAST distributed the student report to the ABE system. The report was used in developing a pilot teacher certification system and we began to use it in planning teacher training. We've also distributed the report out to teachers at teacher trainings. Nevada's ABE system asked for a copy. They use the report as part of their on-line teacher training program. Teachers use the students' report as a check list to compare their skills to help plan out their own PD agenda.


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2093] Re: learners' role in teacher training
From: AWilder106_at_aol.com

Hi Will,

You kind of BLASTed the cobwebs out of the corners with your input.It sounds to me that often when adult students come to class they fall into the old student role, maybe left over from when they experienced failure in school (others--remember Art LaChance's emails on this topic?). And so the teacher is primed to act as the school house teacher, and the k-12 dynamic is repeated.

With BLAST and all such methods, a different pairing of roles emerges.

I should think it would be really useful to get this type of information from students, teaching could be much more tailored to their needs. But it must be difficult to break the role boundaries.

Andrea


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2094] learners' role in teacher training - PD Formats and whatever else
From: " jeff fantine" < fantine_at_ohio.edu>

Is this report something you could share with this group?

Since I chimed in with that request, I'll share the learner involvement we have in a couple of our PD activities:

We provide the Core Training Series on Learning Disabilities that all ABLE staff in Ohio are required to attend. It's a 3-part series, which includes the perspective of an LD learner, whom was diagnosed as an adult and eventually achieved a GED. It always seems that whenever the learner is speaking to the training participants about their educational experiences, they have the complete attention of their audience.

We usually approach learners to be involved who have shown an interest in being involved (or we beg those we've discovered are very good at articulating their LD-perspective).

They are, of course, treated and compensated like any other trainer we would use in our PD activities.

Additionally, we host a Kickoff each year for our ABLE teachers and use learners as our keynote speakers. They are identified by my staff and I as we attend graduation and student recognition events at the various programs we support - they are usually the student speakers at these local events. The learners we approach to be our keynoters are usually those who were good at communicating their message and usually gave a very powerful speech. Each year we begin our Kickoff event with a keynote session with these student speakers - and I'm convinced it's the most effective professional development we deliver each year. The participants are eager to hear the students each year, are inspired by the students' words, and seem to be re-motivated to change or do what is necessary to meet the needs of their students. Unfortunately, I can't say most of the PD activities we offer have these same affects.

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. (I'm not sure which group was having a discussion about this, but my input nonetheless).

In terms of a PD policy format - I agree that there should be a recommendation at the national level. I absolutely support the idea that state-level PD plans be driven by the needs of those receiving the PD - regardless of when grants and budgets are developed, and that there should be a minimum of paid PD for part-time and full-time staff. I think the first step in this discussion is defining what we mean by 'professional development,' which is not the information-dissemination, one-day workshops that saturate most of our PD systems, but rather long term plans of events that increase our body of knowledge and affect change in our practice. I think if we had a general consensus around a meaning of PD, then we'd be better able to recommend a realistic and appropriate PD policy format.

There are many great things going on in terms of PD activities for ABE/literacy providers, I wish we had some type of clearinghouse for all of it.

Sorry to have responded to many issues on one response.
-Jeff

Back to Top


3. Realizing Strengths


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2076] realizing strengths
From: jataylor_at_utk.edu

Hi all,
A list subscriber recently posed a question off-list. She writes:

" Students should be the motivation for student leadership. In other words the projects developed should be something that interest the students and not something that students feel they have to do to merely satisfy practitioners. In the conversations I have had with my student they where quite nervous with the idea of teaching professional development. It seemed they did not know what worth they would have in teaching the teachers. How would you bring the student to the understanding of what they have to offer when it comes to training in such a way that they will be motivated to want to offer PD?"

Does anyone have suggestions for this teacher? Learner leaders and others, what is your advice?

Best,

Jackie


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2077] Re: realizing strengths
From: nancygray9_at_msn.com

I'd like to respond to that Jackie. We've noticed here in New Mexico that the best way to get students started on doing PD is to first have them start dialoging on topics that are more generative to them like: What makes a good ABE teacher? Or What can we do to help students reach their goals?, etc.

Once they start dialoging they start to come up with all kinds of ideas and suggestions. We don't mention at the beginning that there is a possibility of their doing PD from these dialogues; we let them come up with that idea on their own. Most won't want to get involved in actually doing PD or a presentation, but some will. Then of course there's further training for the students on presentation skills, but then we get our other student leaders involved in offering that training.

If you say to students right off the bat, " We want you to go do some professional development, any ideas?" they will all run for the hills! If you get them involved in dialogue that is meaningful to them, some will come up with the ideas, " Hey we could share this with teachers!" And you as the teacher just sit back and support when you need to, but let them take it.

One last thing: reframe your idea of motivating and start thinking of it as mobilizing. Dialogue with them, get them excited and they will mobilize on their own, you as the teacher don't have to do the motivating.

--Nancy


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2086] Re: realizing strengths
From: < marie.cora_at_hotspurpartners.com>

Hi everyone,

What great ideas and processes! There's been a lot written this week, and pardon if I am repeating something that was already raised. But what if students were requested to teach something to the rest ('rest' meaning other students, teachers, staff, etc.) that others do not know (build a footstool, bake a cake, sew a button, sing in Arabic, French braid hair), and from there unpack the steps and what is necessary for teaching these tasks/skills?

Does anyone explore what it means to the adult student to teach something (i.e.: what do they think are effective ways to help others learn to braid hair, bake goods, etc.) - and then incorporate that info/knowledge into structures for professional development? Everyone learns and teaches things, whether they realize it or not - why not start right there?

marie

Back to Top


4. Barriers to Student Involvement


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2078] Re: realizing strengths
From: Will Grant

Re-reading the posts from the week, almost everything written has been in support of involving students in teacher training. But I've also gotten the sense that its not done very often.

I'd like to ask the list what you see as the barriers to involving students in teacher training.

Why don't more programs involve students in PD?


Including student leaders in PD is not always easy, always appropriate, or always feasible.

What do you see as the problems with including students in your PD? What issues will arise as you include students?

Will Grant


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2095] Re: barriers
From: Holly Dilatush

Hello again, I've tried to keep up with the posts, and hope I'm not repeating anyone here. The variety of approaches and challenges discussed has been intriguing and useful -- thanks to all!

Barriers: One has been mentioned and addressed already, attitude of teachers... another I beleive is that ever-present dilemma of " time" (" the clock" ). The additional time involved in scheming, organizing, delegating, meeting (Aarrrggh! Meshing schedules!), funding issues and documentation (I don't know about other programs, but for our learning center, affiliated with city schools, paperwork is a nightmare), and a lack of funds to pay for a PD coordinator (many times professional development is an 'add-on' or 'con someone into it' job -- not a paid endeavor -- and so motivation and TIME and LACK of money are often unfortunate obstacles.

As students are included, there is the need for more time to explain, review, explain, review -- -- not just the issue at hand, but often the dynamics of committee meetings' expectations and format -- -- there is frustration because " jargon" has to be avoided or explained, often repeatedly -- -- this frustration is often mutual -- the learner may feel " stupid" and unwelcomed, the teachers 'out of synche' and as if their valuable time is not being spent wisely (or at least not at what they perceive to be " PD" ) -- -- there is often the joy of " the lightbulb" (watching those exhilirating " aha" moments as learners gain confidence, see their contribution as valuable, animate their involvement -- and as teachers see the connection and worthwhile contribution/implication to their positions, too)

Sorry this is late, and probably redundant -- Holly



Holly (Dilatush), also known as " Ms. D"
Visiting English Instructor
Institute of Foreign Language Education
The Catholic University of Korea
Buchon, South Korea

Back to Top


5. Understanding Student Perspectives


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2063] understanding where students are coming from...
From: jataylor_at_utk.edu

Hello all,
One last thought...

This question is for adult learners and learner leaders:

Will mentioned that Blast learner leaders have worked to help teachers understand where ABE students are coming from. Whether or not you're from Blast, what's one thing you could do to help teachers understand where students are coming from? In a nutshell, what would you do or say?

Thanks for your help,

Jackie


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2065] Re: understanding where students are coming
From: Katrina Hinson

I think this is where " connecting" with the students is important. I try to tell other teachers when they ask " How do you do that?" , that all I really do is treat my students like other human beings - treat them with respect and show concern as well as genuine interest in who they are as people and who they want to be. I try to remember student birthdays and if I don't remember they remind me  :) - I try to make a point of singling out each student that comes in the door at some point - to spend individual time with each one during the day. Additionally, my students say that what they learn that's not " book" related but " life" related, is as valuable to them as anything else. As a class we often have discussions on issues that relate directly to the students' lives and depending on the students' backgrounds, they can be pretty intense at times. The students' are eagerly seeking advice and guidance in alot of cases where it's never been given and sometimes it's just about letting them have a sounding board, someone that will listen. All in all, I think that's what " connecting" with students means. Most of the time our students are coming from the same places some of us have been - we've all been young once and we've all made mistakes or thought we knew exactly what we were doing and usually had to find out the difficult way that we were off track. I try to tell my co-workers that our students are no different than we were/or are. They have the same desires and wants and concerns just like we do - from paying bills on time, to providing for our children, to trying to have a safe place to live. It's those things that are common ground for all of us.

Katrina Hinson

Retrieved from " http://wiki.literacytent.org/index.php/LearnersAsTeachers"

Back to Top


6. Students’ Roles in Health Literacy


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2067] Students' roles in health literacy
From: djrosen_at_comcast.net

NIFL-AALPD colleagues,

One challenging area of adult literacy education professional development is health. Many teachers are uncomfortable incorporating health issues in their ESOL/ESL, ABE or GED/EDP classes. Health literacy may require medical knowledge, or it may involve talking about parts of the body (as in the case of HIV/AIDS; breast, cervical or prostate cancer) or behaviors such as drug or alcohol abuse, topics with which teachers often are not comfortable, or which they feel they are not qualified to teach.

In many cases, however, students are comfortable talking about health issues such as these, and in some cases they are experts. For example, they may be health workers or health professionals. In Boston we sometimes have people in ESOL classes who have been medical or health education practitioners in their countries: nurses, doctors....and some have also been teachers. In ABE and GED classes we often have students who are experienced healthcare paraprofessionals, home health care aides, for example.

So, here's my question -- for adult learner leaders and for others on the panel: how could a teacher who wants to introduce health literacy issues into the classroom take advantage of students' health knowledge and expertise? Does anyone have some examples of this being done? Or does anyone have other examples of student leadership in health that you would like to mention? (Of course I want to hear from Massachusetts people, who probably have a lot to say about this, but I am equally interested to hear from those of you in Delaware, Texas, Vermont, Florida, and other states. I believe that one of the founders, and Board Members of VALUE in her working life is a nurse in Indiana. If she has joined this discussion, it would be great to hear from her about this, too.

David J. Rosen
djrosen_at_comcast.net


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2070] RE: Students' roles in health literacy
From: mabdullah_at_dcadultliteracy.org

David,

UDC State Education Agency (Washington, DC) is in a partnership with George Washington University, Public Health Administration and other Partners for Health Information. We provide on-line access to health topics that learners are interested in researching via internet thus prompting health discussions amongst teachers and learners. This also relieves the burden of teachers needing prior medical knowledge.

I am forwarding this email to Karyn L. Pomerantz with GWU/HIPS who can give you more information about the partnership and other adult literacy leaders who are involved in this wonderful partnership.

Melva Abdullah
Technical Specialist/Grant Writer
UDC State Education Agency, AE
4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 274-6680
(202) 274-7188 (fax)
email: mabdullah_at_dcadultliteracy.org


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2071] Re: Students' roles in health literacy
From: Roberta McKnight

< > Hi David and all,

In my online Curriculum Development course, adult learners/teachers developed a curriculum of their choice as a class project. In some cases, learners chose health literacy, or were already teaching health literacy in some way, but wished to improve/develop the content more completely.

Learners were guided step by step through the curriculum development process, including: needs assessment, goal identification, content/resource identification/development, teaching strategies, and evaluation. Projects real world, hands-on - < > developed over the term with incremental assignments due each week.

Final projects included a PowerPoint that summarized their work, and provided a means to share with one another. We used the discussion component of BlackBoard with a particular question(s) to be addressed each week. This was my favorite part of the course, generating lively discussion of all sorts, and policy concerns in particular. < >

Though learners were encouraged to locate and share resources, they were also referred to some or all of the following resources:< >

Helen Osborne's Health Literacy
http://www.healthliteracy.com/

Plain Language
http://www.plainlanguage.gov/

< > NCSALL Health Literacy Studies
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/healthliteracy/

< > Kate Singleton's Virginia Adult Education Health Literacy Toolkit
http://www.aelweb.vcu.edu/publications/healthlit/< >

NIFL's Literacy & Health
http://lincs.ed.gov/facts/archive/health.html

< > Pfizer Clear Health Communication
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/healthliteracy/

< > US National Institutes of Health
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/cbm/hliteracy.html

< > Canadian National Literacy and Health Program
http://www.nlhp.cpha.ca/

< > US Dept of Health & Human Services
http://www.hrsa.gov/quality/healthlit.htm

< > US National Network of Libraries of Medicine
http://nnlm.gov/scr/conhlth/hlthlit.htm< >

INASP HIF-net at WHO: World Health Organization
http://www.inasp.info/health/hif-net.html

Pan American Health Organization
http://www.paho.org/

EQUITY List: http://listserv.paho.org/Archives/equidad.html

California Health Literacy Initiative
http://cahealthliteracy.org/

Institute for Healthcare Advancement
http://www.iha4health.org/

These are just a few of many resources - others focus on particular health issues such as HIV/AIDS, Diabetes, STDs, etc. If a teacher is uncomfortable discussing health concerns, one alternative is to ask a local organizations such as the Lung Association, HIV/AIDS Center, School of Nursing, etc to provide a consulting teacher.

Cheers!
Roberta McKnight
Healthcare Multimedia Design
http://www.hcmmdesign.net

The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.
George Eliot


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2087] Health Information Partners
From: kpomeran_at_gwu.edu

Greetings. I am one of the organizers of the Health Information Partners coalition that brings health information to communities in the Washington, DC area. Thanks to the DC State Education Agency, Adult Education, we have forged collaborations with the adult education teachers and learners, and the public library system. Health Information Partners includes librarians, health advocates, public health faculty, adult educators, health science student and others to conduct outreach and training to bring health and literacy together.

I would urge adult educators to contact their schools of public health and/or health librarians in their areas to partner together.

karyn
Karyn L. Pomerantz, MLS, MPH
Partners for Health Information | Prevention Res. Ctr.
GW School of Public Health & Hlth Services
2175 K St., NW #716 | Washington, DC 20037
202/416-0408 (voice), 202/416-0433 (fax)
kpomeran_at_gwu.edu


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2115] from The Student Action Health Team
From: Saiyi Diaz, Justra Gomez, Vanda Ivanenko, Nadia Karamane, Sidaly Phou, Sandra Sterling and Luz Torres

The following message is from The Student Action Health Team at Operation Bootstrap in Lynn, Massachusetts: Saiyi Diaz, Justra Gomez, Vanda Ivanenko, Nadia Karamane, Sidaly Phou, Sandra Sterling and Luz Torres. We want to tell you about our kind student leadership. It is teaching about health. We work with Marcia Hohn, our facilitator, who is posting this message for us. We also work with community health agencies to learn about the health topics Bootstrap students want to know about and then we decide how to teach the topic. We get money from the Massachusetts Department of Education to do this work.

We are a group of current and former students at Operation Bootstrap. Many of us are immigrants. We understand where students may get confused, may not know terms and may have different cultural beliefs about health. Students feel comfortable with us and appreciate being taught by people like themselves.

When we teach about health, we start from the beginning.

We give vocabulary words to the teachers to go over before we come to the class. These are both health words and hard English words that students may not know. For example, early detection, prevention, virus, blood pressure. We try to use simple words but it is important for students to have a health vocabulary.

We break down the health topic into parts that are easier to understand. For example, when teaching about stress, we break it down into 1) stressful situations, 2) physical reactions, 3) emotional reactions and 4) overall affect on the body that may lead to health problems.

When we teach, we use dramas that show how the health topic is connected to students’ everyday lives and to help students understand. We also use written signs with a few words to describe what is happening in the drama at any given moment. The students feel it, hear it and see it. All that helps them understand better

We always try to get students directly involved. We use small groups where students talk about the health topic in their lives and the lives of their families.

We help connect students to health services. Sometimes health services come to the program for such things as flu shots and blood pressure checks.

We can get answers for students’ health questions.

When we teach students, we also teach the teachers about health. Most teachers like this but it is different for them to be taught by students.

We go to conferences to share with other people how we teach about health. This last year, we presented at The Canadian Public Health Association Conference and the Women and Literacy Conference.

Sometimes we are asked by health people to give feedback about their brochures and their websites. We give feedback on level of words, if they are assuming knowledge people may not have, if it is easy or hard to get around the website or read the brochure.

We are role models for other students - they can see our progress in language, in public speaking and in confidence in ourselves - and maybe it makes them feel like they could do it too. This makes us feel good.

Marcia Drew Hohn, Ed.D.
Director of Public Education and Civic Outreach
Immigrant Learning Center
442 Main Street
Malden, MA 02148
781-322-9777

Back to Top


7. Students’ Roles in Technology PD


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2072] Students' roles in technology professional development
From: djrosen_at_comcast.net

Melva and other NIFL-AALPD Colleagues,

Thanks. Melva. I would be glad to have more information about the GWU partnership in public health because, as you know, I am also interested in technology, which has provided a great segue to my second question.

It's similar to the health issue. Some teachers are not comfortable or experienced in using technology, but some students are, and know a lot about technology. Do any of our panelists, or others, have examples of students who have provided professional development for teachers or other pracitioners in the use of technology? I know this is a big interest, for example, of Harry Seda's, an adult learner leader, and I believe Harry has offered technology sessions at ProLiteracy Worldwide conferences. If Harry is in this discussion, perhaps he could comment. And perhaps there are others who can talk about learner and learner leader roles in professional development. Melva, if learners are involved in professional development in connection with D.C.'s mobile technology lab, for example, I would be interested to hear about that.

David J. Rosen
djrosen_at_comcast.net

Retrieved from " http://wiki.literacytent.org/index.php/StudentsRolesInTechPD"

Back to Top


8. Reflections


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2096] Something to think about
From: Archie Willard

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:

I'm not a part of the VALUE leadership training team, but I have been around adult literacy for some time now and I have done some things that might qualify me as having some leadership skills. Not having enough adult learners who have become leaders in this field has been a big problem. This has held back the progression and understanding of adult literacy in this country. Running an adult literacy program today takes a lot of hard work with all the things that are required now. Adult leadership is often not noticed by the programs because of the extra time it takes, and without adult leadership the real picture of adult literacy is not seen by our society.

Being an adult leader is something people don't decide to be. You become a leader when you have compassion about a cause. It will take a lot of hard work on your part and when you work hard and do something about it others will follow you because they also believe that what you are doing is the right thing to do. When this happens then you have become a leader. You cannot teach others to be leaders. What you can do is teach others to become good support people for this cause.

TO THE ADULT LEARNER WHO IS THINKING ABOUT TAKING VALUE'S TRAINING:

If you have a fire that is burning inside of you, and you want to see things better for people with poor literacy skills, and you are not looking for rewards, you are on the right track. You can build a lot of self confidence by taking the VALUE training.

I don't think you will be encouraged enough to develop your writing skills and writing is one of the hardest things you will face in becoming a good leader. But, no matter how hard it is, you will have to find a way to express yourself in writing if you are going to be effective as an adult leader. You will need to be able to write about and communicate your feelings on the internet if you want the literacy field to listen to you and to gain their respect. I don't feel our adult leaders are doing this enough at this time. Also, learn to be a critical thinker and to think for yourself.

I encourage all of you adult learners to think about taking the VALUE training if you get the opportunity. The field needs you. We all need you.

TO DAVID ROSEN AND OTHERS REGARDING ADULT LEARNERS AND HEALTH LITERACY:

In Iowa we are doing something about health literacy. The New Readers of Iowa have formed a partnership with The Iowa Health System. The Iowa Health System (IHS) is a group of twelve of the largest hospitals in Iowa. Patient safety is a big thing in the health field today. Patient safety and health literacy go hand in hand. Some of the New Readers of Iowa go to the IHS Patient Safety Team meetings. There is one main team and each hospital has a small group. We are working to place an adult learner on each of the small groups to advise IHS about their written materials. I feel IHS is very pleased to have our input. I'm now working as a co-chair of the Iowa Health System Patient Safety Team. I have also had the opportunity to travel to different Patient Safety meetings and conferences around the country. The last two years the Iowa New Reader Conferences have been devoted to health literacy. People from the Iowa Health System now come to the New Readers of Iowa meetings and conferences. We will be planning our next year's conference soon. All this has happened as a result of hard work here in Iowa by a lot of people.

TEACHING ADULT LEARNERS ABOUT HEALTH:

The New Readers of Iowa teach each other the little things that we know about health from our own experiences, and we learn by discussions about the things with which we have had difficulties when seeking health care. Adult learners remember and learn from each other better when they learn together. Through the years we have learned a lot different things from each other and gained a lot of confidence. I would say we all have become “street smart” as adult learners.

There is a big adult literacy problem in our nation today and our country just cannot see what's happening. Where is our nation going and where will it end up because of our poor literacy?

Thank You,

Archie Willard, Adult Learner

-- Archie Willard
URL - http://www.readiowa.org/archiew.html

Retrieved from " http://wiki.literacytent.org/index.php/LearnerLeadershipReflections"


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2139] Good Discussion
From: < millard_at_goldfieldaccess.net>

For some time now I have been posting messages on various listservs about adult literacy from an adult learners perspective. I have said a lot of things about adult literacy through the years and some of these things are being said again in this discussion. Many adult learners would like to say how they feel about their programs and what's going on in adult literacy, but they are not yet comfortable about expressing themselves using a computer. That's why we need advanced training and we also need the VALUE’s leadership training. In the last few days I have heard some of the people from the literacy field talking about adult literacy in a way I have never heard them talk before. It’s almost as though you are starting to see adult literacy through the eyes of the adult learner. As you think about what you have said in your postings in this discussion, think about whose eyes you are seeing adult literacy through. Some good things can come out of all of this discussion.

Archie Willard
Adult Learner

-- Archie Willard
URL - http://www.readiowa.org/archiew.html


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2163] Re: Good Discussion
From: etorrez_at_ci.santa-clara.ca.us

Archie is saying what some of us adult learners have been say. I think that if you really listen to the adult learners that are in this discussion some things can help.

Emma Torrez
Learner Advocate
Read Santa Clara
(408) 615-2959
etorrez_at_ci.santa-clara.ca.us

Back to Top


9. Experiences with Learner Leadership and the VALUE Training


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2097] Experiences with learner leadership and VALUE
From: jataylor_at_utk.edu

Hello Archie, All, Archie, it is so good to see you on the list - welcome! I appreciate your message and the important issues you raise; indeed you have given us all much to think about..I am always inspired to learn of your work and collaborations in the field, and I will be reflecting this week on what you wrote. I hope that everyone on the list involved with learner leadership will share their experiences this week.

Experiences with learner leadership and VALUE

__For All:
1) Are you involved with learner leadership in your area? Why are you involved, and how did you get involved? What are learners and practitioners doing as a part of learner involvement in programs? I'd like to hear what's going on in different states, like Florida, Delaware, Vermont, Texas, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, D.C., and elsewhere.

2) Did you participate in the VALUE training? If so, what was the experience like? Why did you participate in the VALUE training? What was one thing you learned from the experience?


__For our Guests:
1) How did your program, region and/or state become involved with learner leadership? Was there a catalyst that sparked learner involvement and/or partnership with programs in your area?

If you work in professional development, how did your resource center or state PD system become involved with learner leadership? What is your role?

2) What activities or projects does your program/region/state do as that involves learners in programs?

3) How did your program, region, or state become involved with VALUE? Why VALUE? What are some results of your program/region/state's participation in the training?


Please take this opportunity to ask questions of our guests. For background information about our guests, visit: http://wiki.literacytent.org/index.php/LearnerLeadershipGuestParticipants

Jackie

Jackie Taylor, NIFL-AALPD List Moderator, jataylor_at_utk.edu


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2098] FW: VALUE discussion, Monday a.m. question
From: Sally Gabb

Hi all - just to let all know, I have enjoyed the exchanges - it's exciting to know that there are many ABE practitioners who see our field as a partnership - learners with learners - in gaining fullrecognition of the leadership strengths in our student population.

To answer one of Jackie's questions I have outlined some of the Massachusetts student leadership support activities and mechanisms. It is fairly lengthly, but gives the basics about what we have been able to do, thanks to dedicated current and former learner leaders, and Massachusetts Department of Education Support. Tomorrow night I'll add some things about the challenges inherent in this important work.

In Massachusetts, there is a long tradition of encouraging programs and practitioners to support learner leadership. As part of state monitoring processes, based on ABE 'Indicators of Program Quality', programs are expected to demonstrate how they support the voice of students in decision making and operation of the program. For the last decade, Massachusetts DOE has funded a variety of student leadership initiatives and projects, including those that support civic participation and those that involve learners in student lead health projects.

In addition to these structural/ institutional support initiatives, the Massachusetts DOE has provided a small grant to the Massachusetts Alliance for Adult Literacy through SABES (System for Adult Basic Education support), the state professional development orgranization. In partnership with SABES, Mass AAL has developed as a membership organization, encouraging student leadership across the state. This funding has been an essential start up source of support for the statewide learner leaderhsip organization. Mass AAL is currently applying for nonprofit status to move ahead with independent projects.

For the past five years, Mass AAL has worked with SABES in each of the five SABES regional offices to issue a 'request for proposals' to work with student leadership projects. Mass AAL Executive Director Ernest Best and various learner members of the Board of Directors work with SABES personnel to provide initial start up meetings and trainings, and to encourage program based student leadership. The Mass AAL Board of Directors and two student teams attended the VALUE Leadership training in 2004, and are using the VALUE tools in expanding student projects. The SABES/Mass AAL Student leadership projects are created and lead by adult learners and include program newsletters edited by learners, special citizenship classes organized and taught by learners, fund raising projects for the program developed and run by learners, and development of specific materials for programs including learner leadership curriculum, health related curriculum, family literacy projects and voter registration drives.

Finally, Mass AAL and SABES sponser an annual student leadership conference and celebration with support from Mass DOE. At this conference, student leadership teams share their projects, exchange ideas with each other, and create strategies for supporting adult basic education in Massachusetts. At the 2004 conference, more than 90 adult learners and 30 practitioners came together to celebrate and build student leadership. Mass AAL is now organizing regional teams to create ongoing structures for learner participation.

An exciting new development in Massachusetts for the next funding cycle (FY06 - FY10) is creation of a specific funding line for programs to develop student leadership at the program level. The state offered an additional $2,000 a year to programs that demonstrate how they will support student leadership and voice in program decision making and structure. SABES and Mass AAL are excited about this new opportunity to work with programs over the next five years to develop authentic opportunities for continuing learner voice in program design and operation. As the professional development system, SABES will work with Mass AAL and student teams to design a variety of support mechanisms and training opportunities for both learners and practitioners.

I'm sure that before the week is out, Ernest will add to my notes, providing explanation of the extensive advocacy work he and other Mass AAL board members carry out across Massachusetts, and in coordination with VALUE. SABES is proud to be a Mass AAL partner, and to have the opportunity to work with experienced learner leaders who continue to teach us about effective support for learner voice. SABES is happy to share information about our activities!

Sally Gabb, SABES SE sgabb_at_bristol.mass.edu


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2100] The member to the group
From: D'Andrea Minnitt

Hi my name D'Andrea Minnitt and I'm a student at the Litercy Council. I'm one of the student that started the M.O.M.S Group. Which stand for Motive Other Mom Support Group and we meet every Wednesday at 12p.m. till 1p.m. The object is for mother to think about futher their education. We all under stood that we was all there to get our GED but after that the next step was to figure out what kind of career we wanted. The meeting also include dicussion on child care, husbands, health or just let out steam. The group is really a place where you can relax after class and get answer about anything. Also every other Wednesday we have Lunch prepared by the the student them self. I promise once you come to one of the meeting ,you will leave with answer and motiving on going toward your goal.


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2102] Re: The member to the group
From: Janet Isserlis

Hi, D'Andrea

Thanks for telling us about the MOMS group. Can you tell us more about how you started, what support you might have needed from the learning center (a room? access to a phone - things like that).

This sounds like a great program. It would be helpful to know more about how you've gotten other moms involved.

thanks

Janet Isserlis


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2104] from Benika, re: M.O.M.S.
From: Benika Pierce

First of all, I would like to restate who I am. My name is Benika Pierce and I co-founded M.O.M.S. support group. In turn I will discuss how M.O.M.S. started and what positive outcomes it brought to everyone. > > Our program started amongst with Angela (teacher), Deandrea(student), and myself. We all felt that this group was needed for mothers to have support. The program was able to keep other mothers motivated and encouraged. As a result students would have a support group and also the motivation. We ended up having alot of our group members who successfully completed their G.E.D. and also were able to see things that they never once before thought that they could do. I love encouragement and positive thoughts and also doing quotes of the day. I did not pick myself out to become a leader but there was a need. The Literacy Council of Tyler helped me to become what I have accomplished right now. I want to reach other mothers and let them know that if you keep going there is a tomorrow with success. My favorite quote is " Your attitude determines your altitude." I have been in and out of the program and had a nine-year block in my life. This time it was totally different because I felt like I partnered with the teachers more this time around. And I didn't feel like I was being treated like a kid instead of an adult. I was able for once in my life to feel like I could accomplish my goals and I was more motivationally driven within myself. Some people have this mindset of what a G.E.D. student is but in reality we are intelligent but with the need of motivation and support. I am glad that I came back because I would of not been able to really find myself and I learned a lot of things that I didn’t think I could do. Angela (teacher), treated me like a real person rather than someone who was a stereotyped adult education student. I am glad that I had this opportunity and I hope that your program opens the doors for student voices.

Thanks, Benika Pierce
Literacy Council of Tyler
Student
Benikapierce_at_yahoo.com


Subject:[NIFL-AALPD:2103] VALUE in Vermont
From: canaanlearningcenter_at_yahoo.com>

I'm Kenn Stransky and I am a practitioner in the northern most corner of Vermont (where we still have snow) and I was one of 2 practitioners from this region of the state that was at the VALUE training held here in Vermont last autumn.

The VALUE approach has brought an amazing breath of freshness to adult education in my region. The student involvement has been wonderful for our program...and that involvement has brought many new views of the programs to our State.

I'm getting in on part of the discussion a week late but I want to share how the VALUE approach can work. Last Friday, we had our monthly staff meeting and the head of state Prof. Dev. met with our staff to discuss our thoughts for topics etc. for next year. Our discussion quickly turned around to how we needed to involve our students in the discussion so that we could hear what they saw as practitioner needs. That is an approach that would not have happened six months ago.

ABOUT THE VALUE CORE LEADERSHIP TRAININGS

This two day training session was in the top 5 of any trainings that I've EVER been to in all of my years in adult. ed. We learned fresh new approaches to better communication with our students. We (students and teachers) learned great teaching techniques that have since enabled my adult students to make quality decisions regarding their education and also how they may better use the techniques in their daily lives and their families. We all learned to recognize realistic expectations for student progress in light of their lives out of school. The best part of the training is the involvement of adult learners as trainers.

I would have to say that the projects that the students chose to work on first have evolved slowly but they have had consistent progress. A large group also went to the VALUE Leadership Institute gathering in Washington DC. The group of used the knowledge gained at the CORE training was then taken to DC. The knowledge that was obtained at Washington has been brought back to our State and is being used each and every week as our State reorganizes adult education into Learning Works!


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2106] Re: VALUE in Vermont
From: etorrez_at_ci.santa-clara.ca.us

I am a Adult learner on staff in California. I do workshop and the institute for adult learners I'm on the board of VALUE and I'm an adult learner on staff in our program. I attended the VALUE training and I learned so much that I have been encouraging our learners to attend the training when it comes to California. I also tell our learners to join VALUE because it is so important for learners to join so that future adult learners can have a voice in our education and help our program. Now that some of the programs are being cut, all adult learners need to help our programs.

More states should have their learners, the programs and the State Director as a part of VALUE to help support all adult learners.


Emma Torrez
Learner Advocate
Read Santa Clara
(408) 615-2959
etorrez_at_ci.santa-clara.ca.us


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2109] Re: The member to the group
From: Mary Pat

Hi D'Andrea, What a lovely message. Thank you for sharing. Where is your support group located? I teach at Edmonds Community College and work with several GED student considering going on with their education. I could refer students to your group.
Mary Pat


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2105] Re: FWD: Fyi, Free FCE workshop
From: Emma Torrez Hi all In Read Santa Clara we have the Henry Huffman Leadership Institute for adult learners in California. It is for six months commitment, it is all day one Saturday a month. In the institute adult learners learn Setting and Achieving Goals, Self-Esteem Equipped for the future, Presentations Skills, communication, advocacy, Networking, responsibility, technology and guest speakers. I have had such good responses and feed back from all the adult learners that have participated, I have had some of the adult learners e-mail and saying that they are going fill better going out and speaking to others, going to community meeting to fined out what is going on in the community.

Emma Torrez
Learner Advocate
Read Santa Clara
(408) 615-2959
etorrez_at_ci.santa-clara.ca.us


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2115] from The Student Action Health Team
From: Saiyi Diaz, Justra Gomez, Vanda Ivanenko, Nadia Karamane, Sidaly Phou, Sandra Sterling and Luz Torres

The following message is from The Student Action Health Team at Operation Bootstrap in Lynn, Massachusetts: Saiyi Diaz, Justra Gomez, Vanda Ivanenko, Nadia Karamane, Sidaly Phou, Sandra Sterling and Luz Torres. We want to tell you about our kind student leadership. It is teaching about health. We work with Marcia Hohn, our facilitator, who is posting this message for us. We also work with community health agencies to learn about the health topics Bootstrap students want to know about and then we decide how to teach the topic. We get money from the Massachusetts Department of Education to do this work.

We are a group of current and former students at Operation Bootstrap. Many of us are immigrants. We understand where students may get confused, may not know terms and may have different cultural beliefs about health. Students feel comfortable with us and appreciate being taught by people like themselves.

When we teach about health, we start from the beginning.

We give vocabulary words to the teachers to go over before we come to the class. These are both health words and hard English words that students may not know. For example, early detection, prevention, virus, blood pressure. We try to use simple words but it is important for students to have a health vocabulary.

We break down the health topic into parts that are easier to understand. For example, when teaching about stress, we break it down into 1) stressful situations, 2) physical reactions, 3) emotional reactions and 4) overall affect on the body that may lead to health problems.

When we teach, we use dramas that show how the health topic is connected to students’ everyday lives and to help students understand. We also use written signs with a few words to describe what is happening in the drama at any given moment. The students feel it, hear it and see it. All that helps them understand better

We always try to get students directly involved. We use small groups where students talk about the health topic in their lives and the lives of their families.

We help connect students to health services. Sometimes health services come to the program for such things as flu shots and blood pressure checks.

We can get answers for students’ health questions.

When we teach students, we also teach the teachers about health. Most teachers like this but it is different for them to be taught by students.

We go to conferences to share with other people how we teach about health. This last year, we presented at The Canadian Public Health Association Conference and the Women and Literacy Conference.

Sometimes we are asked by health people to give feedback about their brochures and their websites. We give feedback on level of words, if they are assuming knowledge people may not have, if it is easy or hard to get around the website or read the brochure.

We are role models for other students - they can see our progress in language, in public speaking and in confidence in ourselves - and maybe it makes them feel like they could do it too. This makes us feel good.

Marcia Drew Hohn, Ed.D.
Director of Public Education and Civic Outreach
Immigrant Learning Center
442 Main Street
Malden, MA 02148
781-322-9777


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2125] RE: VALUE discussion, Monday a.m. question
From: Angela_r25_at_yahoo.com

I apologize for posting late. I had a death in the family and have been away from the computer. I have enjoyed reading everyone’s post. I hope that a discussion group can continue for discussing learner leadership. I think it is very important for teachers to grab hold of the concept that our students can rise up to be leaders. You have hopefully read the posted about the M.O.M.S. group. The group has done more than offer engorgement for moms. It has been a voice that has created change in staff and teachers. The catalyst for the M.O.M.S group was a couple of student telling me they really needed support or they thought they would drop out. I really played a talent agent role and discovered that the learners could offer support to each other. I offered support on how to run a support group to those students. A couple of students stepped up and blossomed as leaders of the group. The biggest challenge for us is creating an place where the students really understand their worth and skills. It is amazing how students have not had anyone point out skills and strengths that are obvious to others. I have seen increased goal setting and goal keeping. Most of the girls in the group are students that have received public assistants in the past and have been in and out of the LCOT program. They have been able to work out barriers that have kept them from school and found friendships. They have seen each other meet goals that they dreamed of meeting and quickly establish new goals.


Angela Childers
Literacy Council of Tyler
Angela_r25_at_yahoo.com


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2129] Re: VALUE in Vermont
From: kchaney_at_utk.edu

Kenn,

In reading your posting, several of your comments about the VALUE Core Leadership Training experience stood out for me. I was particularly struck by your statement that the VALUE training was " in the top 5 of any trainings that I've EVER been to in all of my years in adult ed" . This sounds like a training that I'd like to know more about!

You mentioned new approaches to better communication with students...could you elaborate on that (ie, what were some of the approaches and how did they work with the students)? You also noted that you learned great teaching techniques relative to adult students making decisions regarding their education...could you elaborate on that as well?

Thank you for helping deepen my understanding about the VALUE training.

Respectfully,
Kim Chaney-Bay

Back to Top


10. Understanding Student Involvement


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2124] Student involvement
From: jataylor_at_utk.edu

Hi all, The other night, I asked about some of the challenges of learner leadership, but I realized today that I'm not even sure what student involvement in programs really means. In the past, I've heard some say that ' our students don't have time for this - they want to get their GED or learn English'. It seems that student involvement may be perceived as something extra. Is this necessarily true?

What _is_ student involvement? I've read several great examples of activities and projects, but I'm wondering if we've covered everything, or if we've barely scratched the surface...

Thanks,
jackie


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2128] Re: Student involvement
From: < kraft_at_ypsilibrary.org>

Hi all, Student involvement can come in many forms. For me it started after being asked to help out with the learner run news letter our agency puts out. We then shot a sensitivity video and started to meet once a month to talk about what we could do to make the program even better. This whole process let me see just how important it was to get involved. That's why VALUE is so exciting. I know the first time I went to one of there conferences I was questioning weather I should try to go on staff at Washtenaw Literacy. My tutor had helped me a ton and college had been going well but I still had loads of self doubt. The excitement of seeing all these other people stepping out to help made me feel that I needed to do this. I've spent the last five years as a Program Coordinator here and hope to do it the rest of my life. Blair Kraft
Program Coordinator
Washtenaw Literacy


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2161] Re: Student involvement
From: < etorrez_at_ci.santa-clara.ca.us>

You are so right I am glad that you are doing to well in the program

Emma Torrez
Learner Advocate
Read Santa Clara
(408) 615-2959
etorrez_at_ci.santa-clara.ca.us


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2130] Re: Student involvement
From: Angela Childers

Jackie,

It seems the second we define student involvement is the instant that students lose interest. Ultimately student involvement is when students have a voice. But students need to form that voice. Student’s need to know their skills or desired skills and have the opportunities open in their program to use those skills. Teachers need to be around at some point to make sure the support it there and to keep it something the students want. Also I found out real quick that students only give time to something that they see interesting to them. Students like to make us happy but bottom line time students give to student involvement equals interest they have in what they are involvement in. In other words the students group create the vision of the project or position. (It seems the project can't be just one students vision it has to be the teams vision. The student team has to know how to appeal to the gate keeps as well.)

There also seems to be a Gap between teachers and students that student involvement fills. The student becomes more like a partner than a student. I am really unsure how to explain it so if anyone else has a thought about this help me out.


Angela Childers
Literacy Council of Tyler
Angela_r25_at_yahoo.com


Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2131] Re: Student involvement
From: djrosen_at_comcast.net

Hello Jackie,

We've just scratched the surface on what learner involvement means.

But first: some learners only want to focus on their learning goal, for example improving reading, speaking English, or getting a GED. Some of those learners, after they are in a program for awhile, develop other goals and do want to be involved in other ways; some don't. Some come to the program and need to be involved in other ways right from the beginning; they need to have other purposeful roles in the program in order to accomplish their goals as a learner -- they need to be a contributing member of the community where they are giving as well as receiving.

So, here's the beginning of a list of ways that adult learners can be involved, in addition to being learners:

  • recruiter
  • counselor
  • board (or advisory board) member
  • hiring committee member
  • elected representative to the student council, or student advisory group
  • member of the curriculum development or program evaluation committee
  • facilitator of a student support group
  • actor, director, or set or props designer in a program's
  • improvisational theater group, or other adult literacy-related theater or video production
  • program vehicle driver
  • writer and/or editor of program newspaper, or literary journal
  • program photographer, or videographer
  • tutor
  • program child care worker
  • program fund raiser
  • adult literacy advocate/public speaker
  • participant as a presenter or trainer in staff development
  • special project participant (some of examples of these projects
  • include: Action Health Team, Homebuying Awareness Web site project, Buying a Computer Web site Project, Rural Transportation Project, and Environmental Clean-up)

    What other roles should be added to this list?

    David J. Rosen
    djrosen_at_comcast.net


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2132] Re: Student involvement
    From: djrosen_at_comcast.net

    Hello Angela,

    I think " partner" is the right word and that you have explained it well.

    Here's an example of that partnership. A volunteer tutoring program in Philadelphia, several years ago, changed its training design. Instead of training volunteers and then matching each one to a student, they matched the student and volunteer first and sent both of them to training together as a team.. The student then had many of the same tools as the tutor, and most important, this communicated right from the start, that this was a partnership of two adults, not one person poring knowledge into another, but two people in partnership to help one learn to read better, and to help the other learn how best to help...and maybe learn some other things, too.

    David J. Rosen
    djrosen_at_comcast.net


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2133] Re: Student involvement
    From: < angellove2001us_at_yahoo.com>

    Hello Jackie,

    I would like to offer a student prospective on your question. To me student involvement is involving the students to make them feel important and to give them a voice. It puts responsibility on the student in order to prepare them for life. It also allows other student to have student leader examples.

    Students are busy and want to get their GED or learn English however, if students want something to happen the will find the time. So find out what motivates your students and that is what they will help with. Teachers have to show that they are interested in the student’s interest.

    Far as students being involved in professional development I think it is a good idea. Personal I would not want to be involved unless I was confident in the subject matter and had support from a teacher. In other words I would want to be taught the skills needed to present and able to ask lots of questions.

    If someone else would like a student prospective on something please ask.


    D'Andrea Minnitt
    Literacy Council of Tyler
    Student
    Angellove2001us_at_yahoo.com


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2138] Re: Student involvement
    From: < khinson_at_future-gate.com>

    One of my students offered this suggestion as to what " student involvment" meant to them.

    " For me, it's coming back and being able to tell the other students still in the GED class or even the ABE classes to not give up...to keep at it and to not focus so much on " test" but to truly learn and think. I started in curriculum classes this spring and because I really did focus on the end result of " getting my GED" and I didn't listen as much as I could have, I didn't hear my teacher when she told me to think my way through something, to be an active participant in my learning. Focusing on the end result is not what students need - they need to set goals, to see them as steps from one place to another in their lives. They need to hear former students tell them like it is - and to not sugar coat it. College is hard. Finding a job with just a GED is hard. They can't focus on just one thing, they have to keep the big picture in mind. That's what students have to offer other students. Sure, we can come back to help each other out, we can come back to be study partners - but all the work in the world isn't enough if you forget it between the time you get your GED in the mail and register for your first college classes. I do think instructors and other people in programs could do a better job of trul ylistening to students...respect us and our differneces but when it comes right down to it, I'd rather deal with the students and not all the big wigs. If I can help, I want to be able to help...if not, I want to at least be an example of what you can become if you work hard and don't give up. I am happy to be able to go back and tell people in my old class to listen to Ms Hinson when she tells us to think because she's right. We have to be able to think for ourselves. No one else is going to do it for us."

    As you can see, this student definitely has her opinions. Within my class I" ve always given my students, past and present a place to speak and share. It's about as far as I can go with student involvment. I do find myself always listening to my students - taking mental notes on what they say they like, dislike, would change, what isn't working etc, so that when I go to staff meetings etc, I can at least try to present their viewpoints even if they can't do it themselves. They may not have direct involvment but they do at least have some indirect impact on things around them.

    Katrina Hinson


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2147] Re: Student involvement
    From: < benikapierce_at_yahoo.com>

    --- jataylor < jataylor_at_utk.edu> wrote:
    Hi all, The other night, I asked about some of the challenges of learner leadership, but I realized today that I'm not even sure what student involvement in programs really means. In the past, I've heard some say that ' our students don't have time for this - they want to get their GED or learn English'. It seems that student involvement may be perceived as something extra. Is this necessarily true?

    What _is_ student involvement? I've read several great examples of activities and projects, but I'm wondering if we've covered everything, or if we've barely scratched the surface...


    > Hello Jackie! I would like to tell you that it is so true that students feel like that. Because I am experiencing this with some of the students at my school. You want leadership from students because it is very important for involvement and it brings a good reflection upon the adult education program itself. I can relate to the question you asked. The students feel like once they have accomplished the goal, there becomes no need for further involvement. I want to give back to the adult education program instead of eliminating the M.O.M.S. support group. Their were a lot of encounterments with students that wanted things to be done, but their was no consistency in the participation. I would like to say involvement in students is a good thing and it ends up with a good result. Also, the adult education has the benefit from the student involvement. Thanks, Benika


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2135] student involvement at the WAITT House
    From: jataylor_at_utk.edu

    Hi All,
    This question is for our guest, Stephen Hanley, as well as for others from the WAITT House who may be subscribed. Stephen, I'm interested in understanding more about what student involvement is and what it means to adult learners, practitioners, and programs. I understand the WAITT House involves students in the program at every level. I have a couple of questions for you:

    Would you please describe to us some of the different levels of student involvement in your program? What does student involvement look like at these various levels?

    As a program director, what advice do you have for others in supporting student involvement?

    Thanks so much,
    Jackie

    Back to Top


    11. Challenges of Learner Leadership


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2111] challenges of learner leadership
    From: jataylor_at_utk.edu

    Hi All, We've heard several examples of learner leadership in programs, but I'd also like to know: what are the challenges inherent in this kind of work? I think Emma touched on one from a learner leader perspective. Would other learner leaders comment? ABE/ESOL practitioners? Program directors? Professional development staff? State staff?

    Thanks so much,
    Jackie
    (Learner Leadership discussion updates are posted here: http://wiki.literacytent.org/index.php/LearnerLeadershipFullDiscussion Just click on the title of the discussion thread for the full text.)


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2137] Re: challenges of learner leadership
    From: < khinson_at_future-gate.com>

    One of the challenges of learner leadership is not all learners in an adult ed program are " adults" in maturity or responsibility. I work in a class room with students from multi ages practically (my oldest student is 55+ and my youngest is 17) and some, not all, of my 17 year olds still come to school as if it's a social event and not an educational moment. They don't want to work, they don't want to take ownership of their own futures even after the difficulties they have faced of public education and even worse. From where I sit, trying to get my administration to even consider learner leadership options would be an uphill battle simply because of the behavior of a large percentage of the population served on the primary campus. I don't think this is as much of an issue at some of the community classes as it is for us and perhaps learner leaders might could come from that pool, but it would still be an uphill battle trying to get admin to see past the negative behavior of some.

    Katrina Hinson


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2149] Re: challenges of learner leadership
    From: < rebeccas42_at_yahoo.com>

    Hi,

    I am an ESL instructor in NM and have worked with BLAST as a staff facilitator for learner leadership. I wanted to respond to this question of challenges.

    For anyone planning to implement many types of learner leadership, it really helps to have the support of your administrators. In NM, we've used a couple of selling points. One is that learner leadership is an accepted " best practice" in ABE. In ProLiteracy's accreditation standards for volunteer literacy programs, there are standards that deal with leadership opportunities for learners. This outside expert perspective may help convince some administrators that this is worthwhile. The second way we've tried to sell learner voice and leadership is by talking to administrators about what this can do for the program. For example, for about a year and a half, we focused many of our statewide leadership opportunities around the question of public awareness of ABE services. In different programs, learners took on projects like setting up an information table at Wal-Mart to recruit new students, recording radio PSAs about how to get your GED, and even bringing a state legislator to a program for a visit. This first-hand, positive PR is invaluable for administrators. However, there is one really important caveat - don't make promises to your supervisors that you can't deliver! When student voice is truly learner-led, the instructor doesn't control the direction of the final project. He or she just facilitates through some of the barriers. In other words, I can't predict at the beginning that this group of learners will want to write letters to the editor about why the GED is important or that they will want set up a info table at the store or that they will want to do any type of large-scale project at all. All I can promise my supervisor at the beginning is that if you give us a chance to try this out, you may end up with an amazing result.

    I'm sorry this is a long post, but I will briefly touch on what I see as a primary challenge to learner leadership - time. Time is an issue, both for learners and for PD to teach teachers how to do this. One way we've tried to address the issue of learner time (our learners for the most part don't have time for extra activities outside of class) is to make learner leadership a part of the in-class curriculum. BALST has developed learner leadership curriculum which includes information about how leadership projects teach CASAS competencies and GED skills.

    Time for teaching teachers how to do this in the classroom is what I think is the biggest obstacle. PD time, especially for part-time instructors, is so limited in the programs I have worked in. And it often seems that much of the " PD" time is actually just devoted to how to complete administrative paperwork. If we believe that learner voice is essential to good ABE teaching, then teacher training time needs to be a priority. The BLAST training that I have attended to learn how to facilitate student voice has been the best professional training I have experienced, and I wish that it had been available to more of the teachers I work with.

    Rebecca Sherry
    ESL Program Coordinator
    Women's Intercultural Center


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2150] Re: challenges of learner leadership
    From: < djrosen_at_comcast.net>

    Rebecca,

    Can you tell us what the ProLiteracy leadership opportunities for learners standards are, and/or where (e.g. on the web) we might see them?

    Thanks,

    David J. Rosen
    djrosen_at_comcast.net


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2152] Re: challenges of learner leadership
    From: jataylor_at_utk.edu

    Hi Rebecca, All,
    Like David, I am also very interested to learn more about the Proliteracy standards that deal with learner leadership opportunities. Actually, I (and maybe others) would be interested in anything that would help in making the case for student involvement in programs.

    I'd also like to learn more about integrating learner leadership into existing program structures and professional development models. You wrote:

    " BLAST has developed learner leadership curriculum > which includes information about how leadership > projects teach CASAS competencies and GED skills."

    Would BLAST be interested in making part or all of this curriculum available for other states and programs? Is the resource (in parts or whole) something that we could share with this list?

    Do others have ideas as to how student involvement could be integrated into some of your existing program structures or professional development models? If so, please share your reflections with us.

    Thanks! Jackie

    Jackie Taylor, NIFL-AALPD List Moderator, jataylor_at_utk.edu


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2155] Re: challenges of learner leadership
    From: < rebeccas42_at_yahoo.com>

    You can see the actual learner involvement standards on the accreditation webpage at http://www.proliteracy.org/proliteracy_america/accreditation.asp.

    Standards 5-6 are specific to this topic. Unfortunately, the website doesn't give any explanation about how to actually do this in your program. ProLiteracy does provide very good examples of this to affiliate programs that are completing (and paying for) the accreditation process. However, you might try contacting Mark Cass, the Accreditation Coordinator (his info is on that website) for specfics on how to provide for learner leadership in your program.

    Rebecca Sherry


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2159] Re: challenges of learner leadership
    From: < mcass_at_proliteracy.org>

    Re: ProLiteracy's accreditation standards on student involvement and support.

    First, I thank this list for hosting, and generating, this terrific and important discussion.

    I agree with David Rosen that we have just scratched the surface and I hope this is the beginning of an ongoing discussion - and more importantly, ongoing activities of supporting and implementing student involvement throughout our work.

    Thanks to Rebecca for sharing her experience of how the accreditation standards aided her work.

    This was one of the benefits we expected when explicit standards were developed that addressed student involvement and support within the accreditation system.

    It is also important to note that learners played key roles in the development of these standards. Both VALUE and ProLiteracy's student advisory council helped develop these standards and reviewed the entire set of 16 accreditation standards.

    What we clearly heard was:

    1) student involvement isn't a " nice" option that local providers

    should consider, but rather was essential to being an effective provider.

    2) organizations need to communicate directly with learners - not

    through the filters of instructors/tutors.

    3) learners need a voice in areas beyond instruction - program design,

    organizational issues, events, etc. and that learners need to be involved in the development of including learners in these areas.

    4) this is about providing the opportunities for involvement - and a

    variety of opportunities

    5) success and failure aren't determined by the number or percent of

    students involved. Many learners already have their hands full juggling work, family, and learning.

    6) we need to continue to reinforce the fact that learners are adults;

    have significant skills and experiences to offer; and need and want to be partners in learning.

    The standards reflect these positions and we hope to continue to raise the bar in the future.

    We also see the VALUE training as a primary resource to help ProLiteracy affiliates meet the accreditation expectations.

    Another important feature of the accreditation system is that it identifies promising practices which can be shared throughout the field. We expect that as organizations work to meet the standards, their experiences will help others as they strive to improve their efforts to involve learners in meaningful ways.

    For general information about ProLiteracy America's accreditation system, you can visit our website http://www.proliteracy.org/proliteracy_america/accreditation.asp

    For detailed information on the standards, please contact me at mcass_at_proliteracy.org

    Mark Cass
    Mark F. Cass
    Accreditation Coordinator
    ProLiteracy America
    1320 Jamesville Ave.
    Syracuse, NY 13210
    Phone: 315 422-9121 Extension 313
    Fax: 315 422-6369
    mailto:mcass_at_proliteracy.org


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2162] Re: challenges of learner leadership
    From: < etorrez_at_ci.santa-clara.ca.us>

    Have you try to ask other adult learner leader from others programs come and talk to your learners, about getting involved. Some just need to hear form other learners leaders

    Emma Torrez
    Learner Advocate
    Read Santa Clara
    (408) 615-2959
    etorrez_at_ci.santa-clara.ca.us

    One of the challenges of learner leadership is not all learners in an adult ed program are " adults" in maturity or responsibility. I work in a class room with students from multi ages practically (my oldest student is 55+ and my youngest is 17) and some, not all, of my 17 year olds still come to school as if it's a social event and not an educational moment. They don't want to work, they don't want to take ownership of their own futures even after the difficulties they have faced of public education and even worse. From where I sit, trying to get my administration to even consider learner leadership options would be an uphill battle simply because of the behavior of a large percentage of the population served on the primary campus. I don't think this is as much of an issue at some of the community classes as it is for us and perhaps learner leaders might could come from that pool, but it would still be an uphill battle trying to get admin to see past the negative behavior of some.

    Katrina Hinson


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2166] Re: challenges of learner leadership
    From: < khinson_at_future-gate.com>

    Based on what I know of neighboring programs at other community colleges in my area, " learner leaders" is an unknown and untried concept. To do something like this would in all likelihood involve a major shift in administrative thinking and that is not always easily accomplished here.
    Periodically, like at a special ceremony or something, we'll invite a former " success" story to give a short speech...but that's about the extent of it.

    Katrina Hinson


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2167] Re: challenges of learner leadership
    From: < cfranc2_at_ilstu.edu>

    Hello Katrina,

    I work the staff at Carl Sandburg Community College in Galesburg, Illinois. The have a very active student support wing called New Readers for New Life at their campus. The folks that participate are all literacy students that want to give something back. They advocate very actively for their fellow students and offer an array of services. Karen Avalos is one the staff members that works with this group. Together with her Director, Gwen Khoeler, they have built a very unique and rewarding set of program resources. One of their former students addressed our annual " Student Awareness Day" rally at the Illinois Capitol. This event is sponsored by our state association, The Illinois Adult and Continuing Educators' Association. Her passionate words really spoke to the more than eight hundred students assembled. Carl Sandburg is a student centered program that has cultivated their students as ambassadors for literacy. Together with groups like New Reader for New Life they have built a learning community throughout their very large service area. Please contact me if I can be of any help. I appreciate and understand your statement and the complexities of " administrative thinking." Be well....

    peace and love,

    Chris Francisco Director
    Center for Adult Learning Leadership
    Normal, Illinois

    (309) 454-3329


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2171] RE: challenges of learner leadership
    From: < ebest__at_hotmail.com>

    Challenges of Adult Learner Leadership

    In the conversation of the challenges inherent in adult learner leadership, it has pretty much focused on issues adult learners were having that would inhibit their participation. Then there’s the other side of the coin, the " pink elephant" in the room that’s not being talked about.

    Let me begin this discussion by saying that I believe that practitioners in the field of adult literacy are among the best people in our society bar none. Most are in the field to do the meaningful work of transforming lives. Well, they’re not in it for the money—that’s for sure. Many work with current and former adult learners as partners in the cause to increase resources to the field of adult ed at the local, state, and national levels. Then there are some, unwittingly, or maybe not so unwittingly, who are " student leadership killers." As director of a statewide organization run by current and former adult learners, Massachusetts Alliance for Adult Literacy (Mass AAL), I’ve had the opportunity that most don’t get. That is to visit ABE and ESOL programs around my state to speak with adult learners without practitioners in the room to hear what they’re really thinking and feeling.

    Thanks to the progressive leadership of Bob Bickerton of the Massachusetts Department of Education (MDOE), a strong supporter of adult learner leadership, and is at the forefront of this movement in the nation among state directors, he hired Mass AAL to conduct a statewide survey (in the form of focus groups) of current students to get feedback from the consumers of adult ed programs. He then utilized that information that enhanced the learning experience for students statewide. This was done in 1999, and then again in the fall of 2004. At the beginning of the focus groups that were held in every region of the state, a warm-up period/icebreaker preceded the actual focus groups where I would ask general questions to hear what the learners were thinking and feeling.

    I also had gotten the opportunity to travel to other states where I had the privilege of speaking with current and former adult learners. For example, there were was the VALUE Institute in Columbus, Ohio, to me that was a special time, because there were informal impromptu discussions happening over the course of the few days that we were there that would take place mainly in the lobby area of the hotel where we were staying. There, I began to realize that the conversations that I’ve been involved with, and were privy to in all my travels with current and former adult learners, for the most part were taking on a common theme. Most adult learners did not see themselves as the challenge to the advancement of adult learner leadership. They felt and still feel that the way they are viewed by practitioners is a major barrier to the advancement of our cause.

    Often, even well-meaning practitioners view adult learners with their deficits in mind, and don’t see them for their assets. Paulo Friere in his book, " Pedagogy of the Oppressed," speaks of how educators view learners as empty vessels where knowledge is poured in, and that the learner’s role, for the most part, is a passive one—the " banking" concept of education. Here, no respect for the learner’s life experiences and role(s) in her, or his community, or family as competent and effective leaders are ever taken into consideration, totally negating the fullness of their being. Then we wonder why the persistence/retention rates nationwide have always been a problem (mainly attributed to the lack of the adult learner’s ability to adhere to her, or his educational, and life goals—a character flaw).

    Adult learners do understand power, and where they stand in the student/teacher (practitioner) dynamic. So, to avoid confrontation that to them, has very little upside, they leave the program and their dream of reaching their educational and life goals behind. Not to mention adult learner leadership.

    In my many conversations with adult learners, another common theme was that some practitioners say all the right things when speaking about adult learner/student leadership such as in conversations like the one taking place in this forum, yet in actual practice the walk doesn’t match the talk. Adult learners have a keen sense of this duplicity, often even before practitioners realize it. What compounds the problem, which is often hurtful and demoralizing to the learner, is that most practitioners give no indication that they realize their duplicity, and therefore carry on like business as usual, perpetuating the pain for those learners who possess the intestinal fortitude and the deep commitment to our cause to hang in there. Something must be said for the commitment and dedication of the adult learner leader overall, and for their commitment and dedication to improved working conditions for practitioners, and to increase resources to the field—this must be recognized, and acknowledged. Adult learners in Mass AAL, VALUE, and in statewide organizations around the country deal with this view, and treatment of them on a daily basis, and still hang in there none the less. They are noble individuals that demonstrate a tremendous amount of character by caring about a cause that goes beyond hedonistic interests, while dealing with the stresses of feeling undervalued—they must be commended.

    Solutions

    I must restate here that this is not an indictment of all practitioners; many understand, clearly, what I’ve outlined above. People like David Rosen, and Dr. Marcia Hohn who are a part of this conversation both, " talk the talk, and walk the walk." Yet, this is a problem that needs to be addressed to increase our effectiveness (practitioners, and current and former adult learners) as advocates for the field, and for our eventual success for increased resources to the field of adult ed, that will lead to improved working conditions for practitioners, and adult literacy services on demand.

    The solution is in the recognition of the fact that, just like adult learners, practitioners come to adult ed out of the context of the real world. Some often bring with them preconceived notions about individuals and groups. I call them the " ism’s," based in class, gender, and race. Then there is another " ism" that has been around since our profession, but heretofore was never named—" adult-learnerism." Adult-learnerism comes from the idea of seeing current and former students of adult ed programs for their deficits as opposed to their assets, lumping them into one neat category (marginalizing them). Not seeing the whole person as a unique individual with talents and skills, as one who has the potential that could tremendously improve our noble profession and/or the world. The practitioners work should be in creating an environment that would enhance the conditions, psychologically, to bring this about. Just as adult learners open themselves up to new ways of thinking to transform their lives, practitioners must be able to do the same, and place themselves in the role of student being taught by the adult learner (trained in this work) of how to overcome their own psychological " baggage," and leave it at the program’s front door. It must be recognized by practitioners about their students, that in terms of success, the sky is truly the limit. The barriers are in the mind, and not always in the mind of the adult learner.

    Stephen Hanley is a director of one of the best ABE programs in the state of Massachusetts. I am a former adult learner who has developed an Adult Basic Education program that utilizes a comprehensive and unique approach to student leadership that permeates every aspect of our program. The program was recently recognized by the Boston City Council as improving the quality of life in our city, and is recognized as the best program of its kind in the country for our designated target group. Seven locations in six states across the nation are seeking our services to develop similar programs.

    Stephen Hanley and I have developed a workshop that offers solutions for practitioners in identifying within themselves barriers to student leadership and increased effectiveness within the classroom setting, and new ways of thinking conducive to removing those barriers. The workshop offers an innovative approach to incorporating student leadership within programs that leads to improved program effectiveness as a result.

    Stephen and I could discuss reasonable arrangements that would allow us to travel to wherever you may be in the country should our services requested.

    I hope that my long-awaited contribution was worthwhile, and useful to most. I am eager to hear the responses to my input.

    Best,

    Ernest

    P.S. Yes, there are some adult learners that can barely read, or not at all. They should be commended for their courage to " take the bull by the horns" as it were and make a difference. They should be held up as examples for others to come forward and improve their lives.

    Then there is the adult learner who needs a high school credential, as well as help with improving reading and math skills. They may need those skills for a better job, or entrance into higher education. They are good examples for their communities. We need to do everything we can to show them our respect in personal, and in more formal ways for taking the lead to improve their lives, the lives of their families, and their communities, because that’s what education does.

    Then there is the adult learner we don’t hear much about, who fits the second category, but also recognizes that an Adult Basic Education program is a way up and out of poverty. She, or he clearly views these programs as being the vehicle for social-change within their respective communities, and would go on to start their own businesses or excel in a college setting and move on to do great things for our society. These learners may be affected even more by adult-learnerism, because they can more easily identify it, and are more sensitive to it because of their awarerness. Let’s not drive them off. We need more of these kinds of soldiers in our uphill battle against the proposed 65% cut to adult education.

    Former adult learners can, and do achieve what anyone else can achieve.

    Here are some examples of former adult learners who’ve all achieved the GED credential & more!

    • Bill Cosby – Actor and Comedian
    • Michael J. Fox – Actor
    • Dave Thomas – Founder of " Wendy's"
    • Ben Nighthorse Campbell –U.S. Senator
    • Jim Florio – Former Governor of New Jersey
    • Ruth Ann Minner Delaware State Senator, Governor
    • Vikki Carr – Singer
    • Waylon Jennings – Country Singer
    • John Michael Montgomery – Country Singer
    • Tommy Nunez – NBA Referee
    • Mary Lou Retton -- Olympic Gold Medallist
    • Wally Amos – Founder of " Famous Amos" Cookie Company
    • Walter Anderson – Editor of " PARADE" Magazine
    • Judge Greg Mathis, Syndicated T.V. Show – GED Student
    • & More!

    ====================

    Ernest Best, Executive Director

    Massachusetts Alliance for Adult Literacy

    University of Massachusetts at Boston

    100 Morrissey Boulevard

    Wheatley Building, 4th Floor, Room 167

    Boston, MA 02125-3393

    (617) 287-4077

    =====================


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2184] RE: challenges of learner leadership
    From: BlastGrant_at_aol.com

    I'd like to pick up the thread from Ernest Best's post on May 13th. It was a challenging, thought provoking post.

    Ernest wrote about one of the hardest areas of student leadership and ABE -- real equality between student leaders and educators. Ernest took the question past student leadership and raised the question of respect and condescension to students in all of ABE.

    This topic gets to the center of traditional education: Teachers have knowledge, students are there to learn that knowledge. Its not equal. Participatory education and student leadership change that fundamental relationship.

    This is not a black and white topic. Its not about giving all power to the students. We can't just say " We're all equal here." Because we're not. There are real differences in skills, knowledge, and access to the system. But the power does not all flow in one direction. Students bring as much to the table as educators. Students and teachers have different knowledge, different strengths, different blindspots. The question is how do we learn to communicate with each other about them.


    Two weeks ago at a student leadership training here in New Mexico a teacher said " Students, you have to understand that we teachers are not trained in how to do student leadership. In teacher training, we are taught to be traditional teachers. We teach you. We are not taught how to work with you as equals. All of these topics about culture and voice and leadership are great, its why I am here. But they are new to me. I was taught how to write a curriculum and a lesson plan. I know how to make a good test. You want me to teach you as an equal, but I don't know how. I was not taught that way by my teachers, and I don't know how to teach you that way. I'm still learning how to do that."

    These are learnable skills. When I first started working with student leaders, I had to learn the hard way. When would I let my ego get the better of me and start to think that I knew what the students needed to do, students left. In my mind, they were right. When I stayed true to having students' ideas and values lead, the projects worked. When a student leadership project isn't working, the first place I look is at the communication and trust between the students and the teachers. Over time, building trust and real equality with students have become the most important things I've learned as an educator.

    I think that building trust and taking leadership from students are also some of the most important skills a classroom teacher can develop.

    These are not just new teaching skills. For a lot of us, they are a new way to relate to people. Its a multicultural skill. To be student centered, participatory, or student led, we have to learn to share power with people from different economic classes, education levels, cultures, races and genders. And where can teachers learn these skills?


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2185] RE: challenges of learner leadership
    From: AWilder106_at_aol.com

    The first thing teachers have to know is how to learn and how difficult learning something new is. This can only be done when teachers put themselves in new learning situations themselves. Most adults, in my experience, don't do this. Learning something new is hard, you have to fail and you have to learn to get over the possible shame of failing.

    So I would suggest that each teacher take a class and learn somethng new. Make it something physical, that will really up the ante. Canoeing would be good; whatever, learn something new.

    Another thng is to train students to take over a class. I had to do this with apprentice tachers, they had to have the ability, coached by me, to take over a class when I was not there.

    For any other skills, like leading a meeting,do the same: coach and learn.

    Andrea


    Subject:[NIFL-AALPD:2186] RE: challenges of learner leadership
    From: jgreiner_at_proliteracy.org

    Hello all,
    I would like to second Andrea's remark below and share an interesting website from the Provo City Library's Project Read that included a " Tutoring Tips" article titled " Learning to Learn" :

    http://www.provo.lib.ut.us/projread/tips1103.html

    The short article presents adult learning as something we all do in one way or another--although we may not reflect on it as adult learning--and their conclusions about adult learning are something that could help connect teachers with students in very concrete ways. It's a nice one-pager that could be shared with students, colleagues, etc.

    All the best,
    Jane Greiner
    Training Coordinator ProLiteracy America
    ProLiteracy Worldwide


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2187] RE: challenges of learner leadership
    From: djrosen_at_comcast.net

    Will, Ernest and others,

    I agree that Ernest has raised an important point. Part of this is about respect for adult learners as adults, and what teachers can do -- and how they can learn how to do it -- to show respect. Respect affects the quality of teaching. Teachers who do not know _how_ to show respect for adult learners will not be able to retain them or help them as well as those who do.

    Teachers of adults may need to shift their teaching paradigm to take into account areas where some of their students have more expertise than they do. An ESL/ESOL teacher may be an expert in teaching English; or a GED preparation teacher in the content of the GED tests and ideally in content needed for post-secondary preparation. But they are not necessarily experts in health (an area which requires numeracy and English language skills) or in using computers or the Internet, or in navigating the legal, welfare, or school system in their students' communities, or in many other areas in which some of their students _are_ experts. Being a good teacher requires recognizing, acknowledging, and using all the expertise in the classroom. If students have expertise which is relevant to the class, the teacher should draw on it.

    Here's an example which is critical to the quality of adult education teaching. Many adult education teachers, unfortunately, are not comfortable or competent in using computers or the Internet. There are many reasons for this, some of which have to do with inadequate technology access and training. Nevertheless, every teacher I have talked with about this agrees that some students in her/his class are comfortable and competent, know how to use computers well, and in some cases are comfortable in sharing this expertise. This is a situation in which a teaching paradigm shift is essential. The teacher needs to say, " in technology I am not an expert, and yet we all need to learn more about how to use computers. Let's see who has some expertise in this area, and then let's all benefit. Let's learn together." In this case, some students become teachers (or tutors, mentors, or " subject matter experts" ). This is not a compensation for a teacher deficiency. It's a teaching-learning model shift. The teacher is not the primary source of knowledge about this subject. The teacher is a learner and a facilitator -- helping subject matter experts to learn how to share their knowledge. This is an ideal teaching learning paradigm for constructivist, project-based learning. But many teachers will need some support in making this shift. Adult learners could be involved in that training and support.

    How could this happen? Here's one idea, a professional development workshop where a teacher and her tech-savvy students together learn how to offer a short computer literacy course for the students in the class or at the program or school. The savvy students and teacher all are introduced to the computer literacy curriculum together. They learn together what it will take to implement it. They all become mentors. The teacher or a student (depending on who is most comfortable and experienced in this role) facilitates the computer literacy class process where they all are available to help other students become comfortable and competent in using computers.

    I wonder if anyone on this list has done this, or is interested in doing it.


    David J. Rosen


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2188] RE: challenges of learner leadership
    From: bonniesophia_at_adelphia.net

    To reply to Andrea (and others) about participatory learning, and having the teacher be learner, or sharing a classroom experience: I have an article in press with The Change Agent on a family literacy class walking the labyrinth. The issue's context is peace, and I was talking about a post-9/11 experience. But a labyrinth walk would be new to just about everyone (in my case I'm a facilitator and own a canvas, but that wouldn't be true for most teachers). It's a physical activity, and a challenge in that while it's not a maze, a puzzle to solve, following the pattern can be daunting to some. It's a spiritual exercise, a kind of meditation, and I believe that in using multiple modalities it can open throught processes. There's anecdotal research on ADHD students calming after even doing a finger labyrinth, so it might help with adult learners with learning differences. It's empowering: I had a student realize it wasn't just about " relaxing," but about fodus and perseverance.. Just a thought.
    Bonnie Odiorne, Ph.D.
    Writing Center, Post University
    Veriditas Labyrinth Facilitator


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2189] RE: challenges of learner leadership
    From:eileeneckert_at_hotmail.com

    I think the message below (sorry, there was no name attached to the email address), and the one to which it responds (Ernest's), re-direct attention to the important issues of power relationships among teachers and students, and they < can> direct our attention to power relationships in society as a whole. Who is served by current policies and decisions, who makes decisions, in whose interests?

    Andrea, Jane, David, and Bonnie bring up ways teachers can come to better understand and possibly empathize with students (by becoming learners again, being in a position of vulnerability) and maybe share learning experiences as in David and Bonnie's examples. Beyond the how-to, though, is still the " why." Most people seem to believe that the way education is a change agent is through individual skill development, that those who develop knowledge and skills and earn credentials are better equipped for better-paying jobs and that education is therefore an individual path to success.

    I'd argue that conditions and patterns of development in the U.S. require a major change of mind--a paradigm shift--for all of us, and that here is where students and teachers can meet as equals, because our system of education in general and of teacher education in particular do little to foster the ability to think critically about the world and our place in it.

    In 1998, 20% of the people owned 98% of the wealth, and that was under Clinton. Disparities in ownership of wealth have only gotten worse since then. When 80% of the people are competing for less than 2% of the wealth, then an individual's educational endeavors and attainment cannot play that big a role in his or her advancement and success. The promise of democracy, thepromise of social and economic mobility and reward for hard work, has eroded past the point of sustainability. African-American men's life expectancy is now, I believe, under 50, and the epidemic rates of diabetes, hypertension, asthma and other diseases, and violence that kill poor people are not simply matters of individual responsibility. We have unprecedented numbers of people in prison. Many people have to work 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet. This is not normal. It is not " just the way it is." It's not okay.

    So having students teach others how to use the computer is good, all those things people have mentioned are good, but if we really want to make a difference for students and teachers and all of us, and contribute to a common good, then teachers and students can become co-investigators of the sources of some of the problems we all face, and collaborators in finding solutions.

    Eileen


    From: BlastGrant_at_aol.com
    Reply-To: nifl-aalpd_at_nifl.gov
    To: Multiple recipients of list < nifl-aalpd_at_literacy.nifl.gov>
    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2184] RE: challenges of learner leadership
    Date: Fri, 3 Jun 2005 10:03:55 -0400 (EDT)


    I'd like to pick up the thread from Ernest Best's post on May 13th. It was a challenging, thought provoking post.

    Ernest wrote about one of the hardest areas of student leadership and ABE -- real equality between student leaders and educators. Ernest took the question past student leadership and raised the question of respect and condescension to students in all of ABE.

    This topic gets to the center of traditional education: Teachers have knowledge, students are there to learn that knowledge. Its not equal. Participatory education and student leadership change that fundamental relationship.

    This is not a black and white topic. Its not about giving all power to the students. We can't just say " We're all equal here." Because we're not. There are real differences in skills, knowledge, and access to the system. But the power does not all flow in one direction. Students bring as much to the table as educators. Students and teachers have different knowledge, different strengths, different blindspots. The question is how do we learn to communicate with each other about them.


    Two weeks ago at a student leadership training here in New Mexico a teacher said " Students, you have to understand that we teachers are not trained in how to do student leadership. In teacher training, we are taught to be traditional teachers. We teach you. We are not taught how to work with you as equals. All of these topics about culture and voice and leadership are great, its why I am here. But they are new to me. I was taught how to write a curriculum and a lesson plan. I know how to make a good test. You want me to teach you as an equal, but I don't know how. I was not taught that way by my teachers, and I don't know how to teach you that way. I'm still learning how to do that."

    These are learnable skills. When I first started working with student leaders, I had to learn the hard way. When would I let my ego get the better of me and start to think that I knew what the students needed to do, students left. In my mind, they were right. When I stayed true to having students' ideas and values lead, the projects worked. When a student leadership project isn't working, the first place I look is at the communication and trust between the students and the teachers. Over time, building trust and real equality with students have become the most important things I've learned as an educator.

    I think that building trust and taking leadership from students are also some of the most important skills a classroom teacher can develop.

    These are not just new teaching skills. For a lot of us, they are a new way to relate to people. Its a multicultural skill. To be student centered, participatory, or student led, we have to learn to share power with people from different economic classes, education levels, cultures, races and genders. And where can teachers learn these skills?


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2190] RE: challenges of learner leadership
    From: smilin7_at_earthlink.net

    .. continuing this thread, you might want to read this article, just received in my inbox today from TESOL

    http://www.tesol.org/s_tesol/sec_document.asp?CID=916& DID=3971

    I find it inspiring that their are so many intentional efforts by many teachers to break the barriers, break the top-down approach.

    One other simple thing, doable in most classrooms, that amazes me each time I remember to try it, is elemental, but so often powerfully changes the dynamics. Arrange seating in a circle, and be one of the circle -- not just an " almost" circle with you standing or sitting apart, but one of the circle, same as anyone else. It juices up my self-reflection of teaching and thinking about classroom dynamics every time.

    Smiles,
    Holly

    Holly (Dilatush), also known as " Ms. D"
    Visiting English Instructor
    Institute of Foreign Language Education
    The Catholic University of Korea
    Buchon, South Korea

    " Live with intention. Share inside-out smiles, inspire hope, seek awe and nurture in nature."

    " Encourage, enable, enact an easing of global poverty..."

    " It is not enough to be compassionate, you must act..."


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2191] RE: challenges of learner leadership
    From: smilin7_at_earthlink.net

    Hello all,

    Re: David's query, is anyone interested?

    < < < < How could this happen? Here's one idea, a professional development workshop where a teacher and her tech-savvy students together learn how to offer a short computer literacy course for the students in the class or at the program or school. The savvy students and teacher all are introduced to the computer literacy curriculum together. They learn together what it will take to implement it. They all become mentors. The teacher or a student (depending on who is most comfortable and experienced in this role) facilitates the computer literacy class process where they all are available to help other students become comfortable and competent in using computers.

    I wonder if anyone on this list has done this, or is interested in doing it.> >

    and Eileen's thought-provoking:

    < < < < So having students teach others how to use the computer is good, all those things people have mentioned are good, but if we really want to make a difference for students and teachers and all of us, and contribute to a common good, then teachers and students can become co-investigators of the sources of some of the problems we all face, and collaborators in finding solutions.> > > >

    and Andrea's

    < < < The first thing teachers have to know is how to learn and how difficult learning something new is. This can only be done when teachers put themselves in new learning situations themselves. Most adults, in my experience, don't do this. Learning something new is hard, you have to fail and you have to learn to get over the possible shame of failing.> > > >


    Yes, yes, yes! I agree...

    At the Charlottesville City Schools Adult Learning Center, several instructors have been making concerted efforts to encourage learner leadership. Time is an enemy (nothing new there) and an ever-present challenge -- scheduling, facilities availability, etc. Funding becomes an issue -- so many of these projects become " freebies" (volunteer efforts) -- this is more of an issue for some than others, but still very much an issue, and I believe legitimately so, for many teachers.

    When grant funding allowed, we had a two year free twice-weekly computer class -- but it was teacher instruction. I find myself thinking now, that grant funding to support initiatives like those suggested above might be a more successful method. Not specifically computer-related, but I think relevant recent experience being piloted and developed is described below:

    One successful foray has been via our Festival of Cultures event. I've not chaired this, but have assisted. There was some grant funding to help (huge motivation!). May 14, 2005 was the second annual Festival of Cultures event. Planning begins MONTHS in advance, and includes as many learners as we can get to the meetings. The meetings are round-table, all voices welcomed, all ideas valued.
    At the planning meetings, learners have been coaxed and coached to take active roles, to trust that the language complications are manageable... learners have learned more about their new communities, have shared with us so that we have all learned more about the communities they are building within the Charlottesville area.

    Marketing skills, layout and flyer design, mechanics of operations, audio, stage setup, media planning, navigation of local government agencies for permits, etc. -- shared responsibilities. Computers are used during some sessions, email between sessions, attempts made to document the event on the learning center's website (or foray off into link to a blog -- this is where I see trying David's suggestions -- blogging).

    At the event itself, various learners and teachers taught crafts, displayed art exhibits and taught about respective mediums and culture connects, a huge map was displayed and geography lessons shared and celebrated, origami, flower wreaths, sand art, sports/games challenges (jumps, tosses, hopscotch in different cultures, etc.) Country displays -- I remember in particular a display from Brazil -- the organizers of that table (actually, they had so much they used three tables!) shared a wealth of info and books and differences in education systems, so much!.

    Carrying this over to the classroom into classroom projects is the next leap! We've tried successful health literacy and continuing education fairs (but they've been largely teacher-driven, with a few learners assisting, presenting -- most contributions by learners were in research and poster presentations).

    This message is long! Anyway, I will hope to discover at least one student with a strong interest in digital photography, and at least one with comfortable computer whiz skills, and work toward integrating a classroom project (first) to create a blog (they choose focus of that blog) that grows to include contributions by EVERY student in the class, but that is NOT coordinated by me -- to LET GO of the reins and guide all class members AND MYSELF to let learners lead this project... THEN, near the end of a session, after they've all proven to each other and themselves that they CAN do it, suggest a finale project of sharing AND teaching to other classes...

    Our center has been puzzling over how to successfully build mentor relations (Buddy systems) to increase retention -- I see this as a new opportunity to enhance Buddy systems --

    When the finale project sessions are piloted, learner groups (two or three?) from my class would be assigned to a computer with two learners from another class -- these groups of 4 or 5 would " buddy up" and create their own small community linked to the master blog site...

    This would encourage RETURN visits and sharing/outreach to others at learners homes/communities...
    this is quick-scheming ideas here -- but it's on my list of MUST DOs for my return to next session's classes.
    What do you think?
    [I also plan to use Moodle course management system online components to my adult learner ESL classes -- but I see that as teacher-led, with projects that are student-led. But Moodle is 'controlled' to an extent by administrator -- assignments are given and grades entered only by administrator -- I've had great successes with it this semester in other ways, and some students have definitely assisted/helped other students -- but this semeseter I'm in Korea teaching EFL in a university setting -- very, very different from Adult Learning Center ESL environment! So, my brain is reflecting, pondering, evaluating, scheming...]

    Hope this is reasonably coherent. Thank you for the great inspirations and mind-jolts,
    Holly

    Holly (Dilatush), also known as " Ms. D"
    Visiting English Instructor
    Institute of Foreign Language Education
    The Catholic University of Korea
    Buchon, South Korea

    " Live with intention. Share inside-out smiles, inspire hope, seek awe and nurture in nature."

    " Encourage, enable, enact an easing of global poverty..."

    " It is not enough to be compassionate, you must act..."

    [Korea! Photos galore and stories: www.tabulas.com/~smilin7 and www.tabulas.com/~blogblossoms]

    website (under development): www.geocities.com/smilin7h


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2194] RE: challenges of learner leadership
    From: etorrez_at_ci.santa-clara.ca.us

    Will, Ernest and others,

    I agree with Ernest this is an very important point. Part of this is about respect for adult learners as adults, If students have expertise which is relevant to the class, the teacher should draw on it. Teachers who do not know _how_ to show respect for adult learners will not be able to retain them or help them as well as those who do. If students have expertise which is relevant to the class, the teacher should draw on it.


    Emma Torrez
    Learner Advocate
    Read Santa Clara
    (408) 615-2959
    etorrez_at_ci.santa-clara.ca.us

    Back to Top


    12. VALUE Training


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2099] VALUE training
    From: Will Grant

    To start the discussion about the VALUE Learner Leadership Core Training, here's an overview of the training.

    The VALUE training is a two day student leadership training for educators and adult students. The training grew out of best practices from programs that have succeeded in creating and sustaining student leadership in the U.S. ABE and Literacy system.

    Participants come as teams of 2 adult students and 1 educator from local programs or state organizations.

    It's a participatory training with a lot of discussion. It is supported by a training manual written in an easy reader format for new readers.

    The training has three parts

    Part One: Lighting the fire for student leadership -- how to mobilize students and educators into student leadership
    Part Two: The Big Picture -- how student leadership fits into ABE and Literacy programs
    Part Three: How To-- planning student leadership projects

    The training covers:

    Recruiting and mobilizing student leaders
    Finding funding for student leadership
    Integrating student leadership into ABE programs so that student leadership becomes a part of your program instead of floating on the periphery.

    The training also deals directly with the barriers to student leadership, for example:

    Lack of time for both students and teachers
    Resistance to student involvement
    Sustainability

    Our experience is that the critical issue in student leadership is good planning. The entire second day of the training is spent learning to plan and carry out student leadership projects.

    The training gives participants 8 student leadership project templates. The projects include: students presenting teacher training, fundraisers, students working on retention and recruitment, and students co-creating curricula.

    The templates are step-by-step instructions for how to do each of these projects. We also provide planning tools designed for student leadership. Students and teachers practice using the tools and templates in a hands-on practice planning session.

    This has been everyone's favorite part of the training. The first day is about discussions, vision, and excitement. The second day is about the practical work needed to make it happen. The planning tools are simple and step- by-step. Students, and educators, who have never been involved in leadership learn how to take things one step at a time and make their ideas happen.

    When students and teachers leave the training, they've had time and support to workout the specifics of student leadership at their program: How to recruit students How to build support and understanding for student leadership How student leadership could contribute to their program How to think through the barriers that will come up And how to actually, realistically do all of that

    The training can offer all of that because it's the outcome of an 18 year history of student leadership in ABE and Literacy. The training was developed over three years and pilot tested in 5 states. Hundreds of talented student leaders, educators, and curricula designers from Literacy, ESL, GED and popular education made contributions. Its been a labor of love.

    Will Grant
    VALUE Trainer
    Voz, inc Director of Education


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2144] Re: Good Discussion
    From: info_at_valueusa.org

    Good morning, my name is Marty Finsterbusch, and I am the Executive Director of VALUE. Why I’m writing today is because I’ve been getting phone calls because of the listserv, and I want to answer some of the questions about the core-training. The first question I would like to answer is, where did this training come from?

    To begin, why this training? We need this training because students have been getting involved in the field of adult education, but it has been sporadic, and quite honestly, not a lot of people know how to do it. What has worked in one area might not work in another area, and people weren’t collaborating and working together. There is a vast area of resources not being tapped, and that is the adult learners. Individually we each have something to bring to help our programs, but most programs do not see the adult learner as an asset. They see them as an individual who needs help. There is a bit of prejudice against adult learners. Individually someone may see worth in a single adult learner, but as a whole many people do not see adult learners as people that can help their programs/communities, and we can. Right now adult learners work in every phase of volunteer literacy programs in the United States. We are part of the system already, but we can do more. The issue is that the field has not created a place for the adult learners and alumni to be able to work with their programs as a team to help improve them.

    So, VALUE brought together, in our program committee, leading adult learners that have been around for quite a few years and have been working in their programs in all different levels. We also brought in representatives from Equip For the Future (EFF), the American Library Association, and Laubach Literacy Action (now ProLiteracy). We also brought in representatives from state groups in New Mexico and Florida. We also brought in World Education to facilitate a two-day think-tank up in Minnesota. The goal of the think-tank was to figure out what the components of a national training on adult learner involvement would be, if we were to have one.

    Then we went to Verizon, and asked if they would fund the development of this core-training. They gave VALUE a grant of to develop the core-training. The team that put the modules together was Alden Lancaster, a curriculum specialist, Will Grant from New Mexico, with his training expertise, and myself, who has nearly twenty years of experience in creating, planning, and implementing student involvement events and activities around the country.

    What does this training do? To begin with, most people do not know how to work with their students as equals, and they don’t know what student involvement is. They think student involvement is a group of individuals doing something, they don’t know what, over in a corner. That is not student involvement. Student involvement is integration of students into your system, meaning anything your organization is doing, literally anything, adult learners can be a part of it, but many organizations do not see that yet or know how to do it.


    The core training is:

    a.. Program improvement

    b.. Leadership skill building

    c.. Community building

    d.. Critical thinking skill building

    e.. The ability track student involvement, like never before

    How does it work? As Will mentioned, it is broken down into modules. The first part of the modules is mostly discussion. But, it teaches what student involvement is, so all the administrators and adult learners and alumni know. It also teaches how to analyze your program. We are asking adult learners to get involved, but we are not giving them the skills and information to navigate around systems. The field has not taught about structure and how programs operate, but this training does. After that, they get exposed to the big picture, where their programs fit into the state and national systems. That way, they better understand why their programs can’t do certain things.

    Next we talk about the needs of their programs. This includes the needs of the adult learners in the programs, as well as the administrators. We then teach critical thinking skills, like how to pick and implement projects. VALUE is not telling the programs what projects to do, that is determined by the adult learners and program administrators together. The skills that the adult learners learn can be used for the rest of their lives.

    Marty Finsterbusch


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2145] Re: Good Discussion
    From: info_at_valueusa.org

    The next the question I would like to address is where the trainings been, and how you can get it in your state. We developed this training team. After that, we went back to Verizon to ask their help in implementing this around the country. They gave us a grant which allowed us to pilot test our training in Washington, DC, Massachusetts, Delaware, and California. We went back to Verizon again, and told them about the places where we pilot tested it, and told them that we were ready to implement it around the country, and we started to do that last year. We did core-trainings in Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Delaware, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Washington, DC. With the grant from Verizon, VALUE paid for the trainers to come in, and paid for all of the materials. The state paid for the participants to come in, and to house them, and then they would work with them when they went back into their own states, in their programs.

    Now we are ready to move into the next phase. We learned that we need to train more trainers to be able to implement this systematically. Our plan was to have regional trainings where we trained trainers so that each state and region would have their own training team to be able to do their own training for their own state. We cannot do that at this point, because we did not get that grant. We need to then broker with individual states to bring the training to them. We would train teams in their states. The teams are one practitioner and two adult learners from the same program. If you want the training you would need to call VALUE’s national office, (610) 876-7625, and talk with me, Marty Finsterbusch, and we would have to work out the details. You could also email me office_at_valueusa.org. We cannot bring our training to local programs; there are not enough trainers or resources to do so. We have to broker with states, and then we can train multiple programs at one time in the core training.


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2146] Re: Good Discussion
    From: info_at_valueusa.org

    The last question I would like to address is, where is this training going? We hope that by 2006 we will have this certified with a University to get a credited course, so that if a person goes through this training, they could receive college credit for Adult Education. We also plan to have a Spanish version of our core-leadership training by the end of the year, but we don’t think it will be able to hit the field before 2006. The issue is getting people trained. This is an in-depth, 13 hour training, and it cannot be cut short. We need our trainers to go through the training and begin implementing it in their own local programs, and then come back to other trainings and learn how to do each module of the trainings. It takes time to train trainers to do our core-training. That’s where we are with our core-training. It was made up because there’s a need for the field. It gives programs the ability to be able to track the student involvement, it allows the adult learners to be able to do critical thinking, and we are doing our best to deliver it to the field with the resources that we have.

    Back to Top


    13. Getting Involved with the VALUE Training


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2110] How do programs get involved?
    From: jataylor_at_utk.edu

    Hi All, Someone asked for clarification about the VALUE training and about how programs enroll, so I thought it might be helpful to recap what has been shared these last few days. So here's what I've learned thus far, followed by a couple of questions. I hope others will add on/and correct me if I have misunderstood anyone:

    Will and Kenn have offered an explanation of how the VALUE training works (thanks!), and Will's message can be found below. I understand from his message that the VALUE training helps programs partner with adult learners and learner leaders to develop student leadership organizations that also compliment the goals of the program. Programs go thru the 2-day VALUE training, and can use any one of the 8 project templates to address an issue or concern of students and programs. Students develop leadership skills while at the same time helping the program to better achieve their goals or address program issues like retention.

    Several examples followed from practitioners and learner leaders in Texas, Vermont, California, and Massachusetts. If I understand correctly, are the 8 VALUE project templates options for projects (can learners/practitioners select something for a project other than one of the 8 templates)?

    State professional development systems can play an important role in supporting learner leadership by providing several support mechanisms for both learners and practitioners. Additionally, I understand that in Massachusetts, supporting students' voices in program decision making and operations aligns with the state DOE Indicators of Program Quality.

    In Vermont, it also sounds like learner leadership is supported statewide, is this correct? Kenn, you said you were one of two practitioners from your region of the state that attended the VALUE training. Would someone from Vermont explain a bit more as to how the VALUE training was made available to programs?

    So one big question that stands out to me is, how do programs get involved with the VALUE training? I've read that the VALUE training is offered to programs thru states, but I'm not sure what that means. Does that mean VALUE becomes a part of state professional development, or are there other ways programs can get involved? And IF the VALUE training must go thru states to programs, who are the key people that need to be involved? Who initiates the contact?

    Thanks so much,
    Jackie


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2114] Re: How do programs get involved?
    From: tobrien_at_vtadultlearning.org

    Hi,

    I completed the VALUE training with Kenn here in Vermont and in DC and I agree with Kenn's statements about the merit of its worth. I am replying to Jackie's question about how the training was made available to students and instructors in VT.

    In 2004, Vermont Adult Learning was awarded the Adult Education and Literacy State Grant contract to provide services state-wide. In compliance with this grant, VAL and three AEL organizations now operate under one system , know as Learning Works. VAL previously had a state-wide Student Advisory Council which had representatives from each of its then 6 centers. Currently, representatives from each of the 10 full-service centers of Vermont Works are invited to attend the bi-monthly meetings. A member of this board also serves on the VAL Board of Directors, so the participants are aware that they can influence decision-making in the system.

    It was through Vermont Adult Learning and the immeasurable support of the Executive Director, Pixie Hankinson, who participated in the training that it was made available to representatives from each center. It is crucial to get directors to support such training and important for students to experience learning together with the administration as well as their teachers.


    Tara

    Tara O'Brien
    ESOL Coordinator
    Vermont Adult Learning
    tobrien_at_vtadultlearning.org


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2116] Re: How do programs get involved?
    From: " Pixie Hankinson" < mphankinson_at_vtadultlearning.org>

    In Vermont the initial contact from VALUE was made to the State Director who in turn contacted the provider organiztions. I believe that was in 1996 when VALUE was just starting. Vermont Adult Learning, at that time one of four providers of adult education and literacy services in the state, was very interested and sent two adult learners to their first meeting in Texas. We had some financial assistance from the Department of education and fundraised the balance. Upon their return, those two students proved themselves to be exceptional student leaders by advocating in the legislature, initiating a very successful student support group, developing and imlementing effective fundraisers, and hosting statewide learner picnics, etc. Both developed student advisory boards in their respective regions, served on the statewide student advisory board, and served on the Board of Trustees of Vermont Adult Learning.

    At that time, Vermont Adult Learning (VAL) became a member of VALUE and has sent adult learners to all of their national meetings and hosted a training in Vermont last Fall. Student and staff participation in VALUE trainings has been supported by professional development dollars for the last several years. Participation therefore requires a commitment of time and energy from students and staff following the training.

    Pixie Hankinson
    Executive Director
    Vermont Adult Learning


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2118] Re: How do programs get involved?
    From: Archie Willard

    Pixie and Others

    I agree Vermont has been a good supporter of adult learner development throughout the years. In 1999 I had the opportunity to speak at the Vermont adult learner state conference. At that conference I got to meet a lot of wonderful hard working people, but I want to keep the history of VALUE in prospective. The founding meeting of VALUE was the last week end of March of 1998 at the Highlander in Tennessee. At that meeting there were two adult learners from Vermont. I also want to say I think it's great that Emma, DAndrea, and some of the other adult learners have been speaking on this listserv about VALUE and some of the things that they have been doing.

    Archie Willard
    President Emeritus of VALUE


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2121] Re: How do programs get involved?
    From: Pixie Hankinson

    Thank you, Archie, for the correction on the location of the first VALUE learner conference. It was at a very historic location in Tennessee, and I was horrified to see that I had written Texas in my quick note to the listserve yesterday.

    The Vermont attendees, Mike Amstein and Allan Laroche, were so impressed and inspired by Archie Willard and others at this small conference that they insisted we figure out a way to have Archie come to Vermont and speak to adult learners. As a result, we organized the Literacy Congress with Archie as the featured guest. This was the second or third Literacy Congress in Vermont, to which adult learners from all over the state were invited to attend a day of workshops, listen to speakers, and meet one another. The event was always held in the Vermont State House and was the inspiration of a teacher who had long understood, way before Equipped for the Future, that one of the primary purposes of adult education is to give students their Voice, as well as the confidence and knowledge to use it.

    Archie Willard was an amazing example of an adult learner who had found his voice. As a result, he was an inspiration to the over one hundred people who had gathered to hear him. All other speakers and activities paled in comparison.

    If Vermont's student advisory group decides that it is time for another Literacy Congress this fall, they will be organizing it using the tools that they have brought back from the VALUE training.

    Pixie Hankinson
    Vermont


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2119] Re: How do programs get involved?
    From: < bryan_a_wilson_at_bellsouth.net>

    Hello All,

    I'm a High School Spaced teacher right now and will be earning my M. Ed. in Adult Education this August. I've been too busy to follow this thread, but I am really interested in learning more about VALUE training programs.

    Is there a centralized location or web site that can give me information to review about it?

    Bryan


    Subject: [NIFL-AALPD:2126] Creating the big picture of student involvement
    From: jataylor_at_utk.edu

    Hi Bryan,
    Your question seems simple enough. The short answer is that I do not think there is a website about the VALUE training, though I could be (and hope) that I am wrong. Will someone from VALUE tell us if there is?

    However, part of the answer -- and part of the reason for this discussion -- is to capture the professional wisdom regarding what has been learned by learners and practitioners about the VALUE training and about student involvement. That knowledge is spread across several states and practiced within programs and known by some (like the Student Action Health Team in Massachusetts, MOMS in Texas, Vermont learners and practitioners, and many other programs and groups across the country), but not known by all.

    So I've started a centralized location (under construction), using the posts from NIFL-AALPD to capture what we learn from this discussion. NIFL-AALPD subscribers & others will be able to find:

    • learners and practitioners' Q & A about learner leadership in PD and PI (professional development and program improvement)
    • bulleted lists of strategies shared in the discussion
    • learner leadership in states
    • description of the VALUE training & how states/programs can get involved
    • any research conducted or being conducted
    • the full discussion of learner leadership

    For this to work, we need:

    • to continue discussing our rich experiences with learner leadership on the listserv
    • to give feedback about the wiki area, how to improve it, etc.

    This is the puzzle board (under construction): http://wiki.literacytent.org/index.php/DiscussionOfLearnerLeadership

    Here is where you can find the full discussion: http://wiki.literacytent.org/index.php/LearnerLeadershipFullDiscussion

    Each of us holds pieces to this puzzle; and thru our discussion on NIFL-AALPD we are seeing the picture unfold of what learner leadership is -- and can be -- in professional development and in our field....Jackie

    Back to Top


    14. VALUE News


    The following links are resources for learning more about VALUE:

    Back to Top


    15. Discussion Wrap-Up and Next Steps


    Hello Everyone!

    My, this has been a quiet last couple of weeks. We must all be very busy! I wanted to share with you the responses to the "1-Minute Reply" regarding our discussion of student involvement. Thank you for offering your feedback.

    So has anyone had any additional ideas, questions, or comments since we last communicated? I realize that travels such as going to COABE, followed by a rash of computer viruses has ended our discussion more abruptly than I would have liked. So if you have not had an opportunity to join in, I hope you will. I find that one of the many great things about discussion lists are the opportunities they afford us to continue building the dialogues -- so they never really end, they evolve.

    See below, Jackie

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    1) Did you benefit from this discussion? If so, how?

    • Yes, the insights into what student involvement can be and should not be were useful. Also it was good to hear the idea that not all students have to be involved.
    • I enjoyed the conversation, it was great to see how many different places people are coming from and to talk about learner leadership in that diverse space.
    • I always benefit from hearing the voices of the students. Just when we think we know what we should do, our students put us back on the right path. Their insight is invaluable.
    • Yes, I learned a lot about some really positive things in other programs.

    2) Would you like to see greater student involvement in this discussion list?
    If so, in what ways?

    • I thought there was a fairly good balance of student and teacher voices.
    • Of course. In any discussions that we are having. As a guest or guest panel on specific topics.
    • Weighing in on where students and teachers should be co-learners.
    • I'm not sure. I actually enjoy the peer to peer discussion b/c it's most beneficial to me. Perhaps an optional list for students to be involved in but I probably wouldn't be as candid with some of my comments if students were on the list.

    3) Are you hoping to increase learner involvement in professional development and/or in program improvement? If so, how?

    • At some point yes. However a bigger and more immediate challenge for me is increasing professional development in my program from the next to 0 it currently is to something a bit more consistent and helpful to instructors.
    • I am a board member for a local literacy program; I passed some emails on to the director and will help her think about how to implement the ideas on how to co-train tutors and learners
    • I printed up the list someone threw out of all the ways learners can lead in programs and shared it at a departmental meeting. I think that my organization will include learner voices increasingly as we go forward. Over the summer we may have a program design committee.
    • I would like to. I am on Family Literacy and PD task forces in my state. We havent' met yet but I plan to recommend that we have students on these task forces. Theirs are the important voices.
    • I would like to see more student input into program improvement. We have a student on our advisory board but that is not enough. Looking for ideas from students.

    Additional Comments:

    -----

    A) Hello! Jackie, I really enjoyed all of the discussions and replies. Also I got to see what other adult education programs consisted of in other areas other than my home state. But I really enjoyed all of the discussions. And I would love for this to be more often because it helped me a lot. I co-sponsor a support group for moms and it will give me a lot of ideas on what I can do to keep leadership involved from students that are in our support group. But I enjoyed this a whole lot and hope to keep responding!

    -----

    B) I thought there were some excellent and provocative comments about student involvement in literacy program planning. We need more student input, leadership and participation in program planning.

    But I thought it was misleading and a misnomer to label such student involvement as professional development. That's too heavy a burden and off-putting to most students as several respondents indicated.

    The refreshing contributions were the innovative activities (panel discussions, lead questions, etc.) that could elicit student responses about their learning experience.

    Teachers can and do learn from students, to be sure. But they shouldn't be set us as professional developers of tutors or staff.

    It's the feedback, ownership and participation that's the focus with student involvement, not professional development.


    Back to Top





    Please note: We do not control and cannot guarantee the relevance, timeliness, or accuracy of the materials provided by other agencies or organizations via links off-site, nor do we endorse other agencies or organizations, their views, products or services.