How do you improve your elevator pitch if you work in an obscure education niche…?

help people do stuff betterIn my field, one of the things that we’re crap at is explaining to people in plain English what it is that we actually do. Not only is that ironic, but we tend to undermine our actual work with longwinded explanations that turn us into hypocrites.

Here’s my solution.

If you work in foundation education, or more specifically literacy and numeracy the job is to teach better, improve learning, and help people do stuff better.

How we actually do this gets a bit more technical. But helping people do stuff better… that’s what the job is.

What’s the best pop filter for my Yeti Blue Mic?

I’ve got a fantastic Yeti Blue USB mic which I’ve written about before. I’ve also been coveting the Rode Podcaster Mic that pro blogger and podcaster James Altucher uses. However, I don’t think I can really justify buying when my Yeti mic is so great.

In any case, I’m planing on doing some more recording again shortly for the course that I teach as well as some other podcasting projects, so I’ve just ordered the thing in the picture above.

It’s a Auphonix Blue Yeti Pop Filter. This attaches to my mic and I’m hoping that it will cut out some of the nasty pops and sizzles that happen when I’m recording. The reviews were pretty positive on this, but I’ll let you know how it goes.

Anyone got any advice on pop filters? Please let me know in the comments.

Are you battling low literacy and numeracy on the front lines of foundation education?


This metaphor always makes me slightly nervous. I don’t like to paint education as a war, with teachers as soldiers.

However, this is what it seems like for many tutors and trainers… an uphill battle against enemies seen and unseen.

Let’s get things clear though. While some days you might feel that your learners are the enemy. They’re not.

The struggle and resistance we often feel is real. But the enemy is something else.

It’s the fight against whatever swampy quagmire of events and forces shaped the sum total of past learning experiences that your learners (and you) drag in the door with them every day.

And you have to connect with them, motivate them, and teach them.

What they want is not to be on your side. What they want is for you to be on their side.

What to do if your adult learners have dyslexia


This is another issue that comes up from time to time in our training. Effectively diagnosing and working with dyslexia falls outside of the narrow range of skills that we tend to focus on with our literacy and numeracy professional development and training with trades and vocational tutors.

However, it does come up in discussions with trades and vocational tutors. Here are seven short videos from the National Centre of Literacy and Numeracy for Adults. Here’s the playlist:

  1. Defining dyslexia
  2. Diagnosing dyslexia
  3. Tailoring the instruction and dyslexia
  4. A strategic approach to dyslexia
  5. Coping with dyslexia
  6. Living with dyslexia
  7. Multiple perspectives and dyslexia

I’d appreciate any feedback if you find these useful or not. Let me know in the comments.

Engaging Maori Learners: 6 Short Video Clips

These videos came out a few years ago on a DVD. We regularly use the short section on Te Whare Tapawha in the live delivery of our training. But I thought you might also be interested in the rest of the videos, particularly if you never owned a copy of the DVD.

If you click play below, you should be able to watch all 6 videos that made up the original DVD. Here’s the sequence:

  1. Introduction: Engaging Maori Learners
  2. Te Whare Tapa Wha
  3. Being Maori
  4. Powhiri
  5. Tuakana Teina
  6. Poutama

In-depth Literacy and Numeracy Demands of Jobs: Workbase Resources


This work was done before the Learning Progressions became the underpinning framework for assessing and teaching literacy and numeracy in New Zealand, but there are pages and pages of analysis on literacy and numeracy skills and tasks relating to different jobs. I’ve pasted in screenshots from the resource that looks at the job of a truck driver.


These job profiles mostly just give you lists of things that people have to do to do the work, but without any indication of the levels of difficulty attached to these kinds of actions. However, there is still some really great information here if you look at it with your Learning Progressions-tinted glasses on and realise that most of it probably happens around steps 4, 5, and 6.


If you needed to you could easily map the breakdown of skills and tasks to the learning progressions and work out what steps things are likely to happen at.


One of the really nice things is that this system includes information about the critical thinking skills required in the job – something that is missing from the Learning Progressions, at least in explicit terms.


You can get a detailed description of possible literacy and numeracy tasks and demands for the following long list of jobs and trades here:

  • Apprentice Chef
  • Automotive Electrician
  • Automotive Heavy Engineer
  • Automotive Light Vehicle Trades
  • Automotive Light Vehicle Specialist Technician
  • Automotive Refinisher
  • Beauty Therapist
  • Carpenter
  • Catering Assistant
  • Coal Miner
  • Collision Repair Technician
  • Electrical Appliance Service Trainee
  • Flooring Installer
  • General Worker/Operator
  • Glass Processor
  • Glazier
  • Hairdresser
  • Line Mechanic
  • Metal Fabricator/Welder
  • Pharmacy Assistant
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Plumber
  • Quarry Manager
  • Quarry Operator
  • Ramp Operator
  • Retail Salesperson
  • Roofing Trainee
  • Site Security Officer
  • Sports Turf Management Trainee
  • Storekeeper
  • Textile Operator
  • Truckdriver
  • Tyre Technician
  • Youth Worker


Using the TEC Literacy and Numeracy Assessment Tool for Adults: Video Content

Using the TEC Assessment Tool

The video below should cycle through the four videos discussing the TEC assessment tool. These are:

  1. Administering the initial assessment
  2. Administering the progress assessment
  3. Discussing the assessment tool results with learners
  4. Learners’ messages about good practice and the assessment tool.

In our live workshops we usually only get time to watch the first one, but I’d encourage you to watch them all if you have to use the TEC tool.