Update - After finishing my video, I was closing all the applications I had used and noticed a setting I missed in Movavi. I didn't realize I could save the screen capture in a number of different sizes, including the size I was making my video for this activity! If you pay attention to the quality of the Spark screen captures, you will probably notice this error on my part. But...live and learn: it won't happen next time!
Best Practices in Adult Learning Theory
Discussion Prompt: Share and discuss your own theories and strategies for supporting adult learning.
I know that when I am in a PD environment as a learner, I want to know a couple of things before any training gets started (whenever possible) or discover the answers along the way. These include:
- How will what you are teaching me help me or make my life/job easier?
- What is it about your experience that makes you qualified to teach this to me?
- How do I accomplish/use what you are teaching me? (this is different from question 1 in that it is less informational and more process oriented for me)
- Are you available for help me after the training is finished if I need more assistance?
Knowing that I find all these items important in my own participation in PD, I always try to answer each of these for my audience when I lead PD sessions. I want to make sure participants walk away with new knowledge they can put to use immediately or with minimal, additional exploration of the tools/techniques I am teaching and that I am there to help them even after the session has concluded.
Reflective Question: Which of these strategies, if any, do you currently incorporate into your professional development sessions?
I use several of these when I run PD. I always start off by informing the audience what they will learn from participating and why it matters to them. I tend to back it up with personal relevance and prompt for their experiences with similar tools or techniques. I do my best to keep the learners involved through questions and back-and-forth interaction. And, unless I have a relevant topic or materials to share, I try not to run a PD. No need to waste anyone's time.
Reflective Question: Which of the strategies, tools, and tips do you think will be most useful for you in your future professional development sessions? Why?
I should probably use KWL charts more than I have in the past. It would be useful in helping to put a good plan for the PD session in place.
Reflective Question: What is your initial reaction to Knowles’s assumptions about adult learners?
My initial reaction to the assumptions made by Knowles is that they completely resonate with the way and reasons I undertake new learning experiences. I love to learn new things but I want to know what I can do with that information once I have learned it. And, I don't want to waste my time on material that has no real use or personal interest to me.
Reflective Question: Which needs of the adult learner are you already meeting? How?
Knowles identified six assumptions about adult learners: need to know, self-directed, relevant lifetime experiences, relevant, problem centered, and contains intrinsic and extrinsic meaning for the learner. When I lead PD, I have always tried my best to incorporate each of these, even if I hadn't realized it at the time. So, I would say that I touch on each to a greater or lesser degree.
How? - Well, when I hold a PD session, I generally start off setting the stage about how learning the information has changed my life or teaching. This helps learners understand why they need to know it. I use personal life experiences to add relevance but also try to ask the learners how knowing what I am teaching them could make their lives easier or help them do a better job relevant to the topic. Combined, these two practices help make the content relevant for all involved. My training typically solves some kind of problem the learners are experiencing. And, saving them time and effort as well as helping students and families understand their classes easier provides both intrinsic and extrinsic meaning for PD participants.
Reflective Questions: Which needs of the adult learner do you need to meet in future professional development sessions?
You might have noticed that I did not touch on the assumption of self-directed above. While I often try to provide some individual space for exploration, I often direct the session in a pretty straight forward manner where all involved are following along. That being said, I always end my sessions by directing participants on a variety of additional things they can explore on their own to improve or become more familiar with whatever I am teaching them. I also always offer them the ability to contact me if they have problems or new questions based on their own exploration of the topic.
Reflective Questions: What strategies, tips, and tools do you implement in your professional development sessions to support each of the six assumptions?
This may sound obvious to most, but I recommend as one plans their PD, they think about how they would feel sitting in the chair with someone teaching them about the topic they are about to present on. If you can show your audience how the PD will make their lives better and provide real-world personal experience with the material, you've won half the battle before it even starts!
Reflective Question: What has been your most meaningful learning experience as an adult? What made it meaningful?
Outside of the Adobe Ed Ex courses, I would say the most meaningful learning I have undertaken has been participating in the Kenan Fellows Program. I came into teaching lateral entry, so I never underwent formal training prior to finding myself in the classroom. The Kenan Fellows program provided me with up-to-date tools and resources to improve my teaching. They gave me a support network and allowed me to try new skills outside of my expertise under expert leadership. While we earned a stipend for participating, it was the way they connected real-world experience with educational practice that made it such a great program. If you ever have the opportunity to participate in this program, apply!
Reflective Question: What was your least effective experience as an adult learner? Why was it ineffective?
The least meaningful learning experiences I have undergone are our school district's annual required training for active shooters, cultural sensitivity and so forth at the beginning of every school year. These are ineffective because although they can be done at our leisure (prior to a date) because they are all online, the content is nothing more than a multimedia slideshow being read to us, which we can do on our own. Also, it hasn't changed in a decade, so it is completely out of touch with current times. It's meaningless and a total waste of time.
Prompt - Why is Creativity Important in Education? - Discuss both your own ideas, and your reaction to Ken Robinson's answer to this question.
I agree with Sir Ken Robinson, to a point. Creativity is often overlooked or considered less important than other modes of learning in today's educational systems. However, this is not true of all schools or all teachers. While it is true that districts and politicians are mainly interested in test scores and classes that foster creativity such as art or music are the first areas to be cut in budget deficits, there are lots of ways creativity is developed both in districts and classrooms.
Creativity doesn't always require a visual or auditory artistic component, though that is usually what people refer to. When teachers provide students with options or flexibility in how to explain or express what they have learned, they are encouraging creativity. Being creative also means coming up with new and interesting solutions to problems. Science classes often encourage creative thinking in this manner.
I would say that I am a very lucky teacher in terms of how creativity is expressed in my school and classroom. I teach at a magnet school with a focus on the arts, so I am surrounded by creative individuals, both in terms of school personnel and our student body. Being a digital arts teacher, I try to make sure students see the connection between creativity and employability. And, I am supported in this endeavor by my fellow teachers, the school admin and (in a sense) the district by allowing us to have such a focus.