What’s the problem? Poor teaching


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Poor teaching is another factor that we often associate with low levels of adult literacy and numeracy. This applies to teaching in schools as well as in the tertiary sector with adults.

Poor teaching reinforces adult learners’ negative beliefs about literacy and numeracy. For example, if an adult student thinks that she “can’t do maths”, this is reinforced when a tutor fails to notice her needs or skips over an important explanation of what happens in a calculation.

These beliefs are hard enough to change without making things worse for learners.

Also, beware…! What looks like great classroom behaviour doesn’t always mean that there’s been great teaching. Just because students have their heads down doesn’t always mean that they understand what you’ve taught them.

On the flip side, a chaotic noisy classroom doesn’t always mean students are distracted and not engaged.

In the tertiary sector, many trades and vocational tutors are recruited from industry. This is as it should be.

But it also means that while these tutors have the right kinds of trades skills and qualifications, they often need professional development opportunities to develop their teaching skills. This includes embedding literacy and numeracy into their teaching.

Whether this is well supported or note depends on the organisation. Some funded training now requires that trades and vocational tutors hold specific qualifications.

An example of this would be SAC funded training at levels 1 and 2 in Aotearoa New Zealand as well as Workplace Literacy Training.

This training which is funded by the Tertiary Education Commission requires that tutors have the New Zealand Certificate in Adult Literacy and Numeracy Education (Vocational). That’s this course…!

Some questions to think about

Time for a cup of coffee and some more things to think about. The questions below are not assessed, but thinking about your answers to them will help you with the assessment task.

  1. If you’re doing this qualification, you’re already part of the solution. But what about your organisation… are they supportive of professional development opportunities?
  2. What about your colleagues? Are they ready to make changes to the way they teach?
  3. What about your learners? How do you really know whether they understand or not?

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