How can we use existing evidence when working with highly capable, but time-poor tutors?


Draft Professional Standards (3)

Let me tell you something you probably already know.

  • Sometimes, our best foundation education tutors are already the ones doing everything else as well.

You know who these folk are. Their students love them, they’re coaching their kid’s rugby or netball team on the weekend, they’re looking after extended family and more.

If they’re lucky they’re paid well. But most are not. Working conditions are tough. Some have the right professional qualifications and experiences. Others do not.

They have strengths. Sometimes they have tremendous expertise. And a few demonstrate amazing – and often humble – leadership in the work they do.

When you ask these tutors to engage in professional development and training, it adds another layer of complexity to their already busy lives.

It’s about time we gave serious thought to some better ways of working with our best tutors.

The system is kind of set up for this. But we’ve made it too complicated. It’s time to redesign and perhaps co-design how we want this work.

For example, if, as a tutor, you already possess skills and abilities, and you have the evidence to prove it, these should be recognised within the system that we use.

Let’s try and put it in context. I’ll use myself as an example. The boss comes to me with a professional development plan. Aside from the extra time costs, here’s what’s going through my head:

  • Don’t send me off to get training on how to use the Assessment Tool if I’m already using it with my own learners. I already know how to use it. Instead, can’t you use the evidence already generated by the system to attest to the fact that I’m already competent in this area?
  • Likewise, if I’m already delivering results working with my Pasifika learners, then let me show the evidence for this. Can’t we just acknowledge this in some way? Don’t send me off for cultural competency training.

But if there’s an obvious gap in my knowledge or experience, then it’s a different thing. I’m still busy but perhaps we should explore some different options. For example:

  • It’s clear to me that I lack confidence embedding numeracy into my vocational training. Why can’t you hook me up with some training that will allow me to become a better maths person and explore some different ways to work with numbers in the context of my training? Do I need to complete a whole other qualification?
  • Most of my learners are Maori. If I’m honest with myself, I can see that I need to know more about what works for my Maori learners. Perhaps I do need some mentoring in this area. I’ll take time out of my busy week and attend some workshops as long as I know they’re targeted towards the support I need. Perhaps I should even complete an online micro-credential that attests to these new skills.

None of this is to say that we should do away with professional qualifications for tutors.

But I think we need to acknowledge that we need some new and creative ways of recognising tutor competencies where we find them. And then designing bespoke approaches to training and micro-training where there are gaps.

And then let’s see how this connects with the qualifications.

What do you think?

Lifting our game: What goes into a capability framework for trades and vocational tutors?


Draft Professional Standards (2).png

By February next year, we’ll have a draft set of professional standards for tutors teaching foundation-level courses in Aotearoa New Zealand.

We’ve got some initial ideas about how and where to get started with this work. And we know why we need to take this next step.

But we still need to design this framework. This brings me to the next question:

  • What goes into a capability framework for trades, vocational tutors and others delivering foundation-level training?

It’s really up for grabs at the moment. But we have made a start on a structure. And we’ve started talking about some of the detail.

Over the last couple of months, we’ve been meeting with and talking to representatives from key organisations and agencies to make sure we get the starting points right.

This has included groups and individuals in government agencies such as at the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and the National Centre for Adult Literacy & Numeracy (NCLANA).

This work is contracted through Ako Aotearoa, so we’re in regular contact with people and teams there as well.

Now we’re at the point where we need to cast our net wider and seek feedback from interested organisations and individuals in the tertiary sector.

If that’s you, here’s some further detail about the kind of structure that we’re looking at.

  • Four capability domains that encompass the professional knowledge, teaching practices, ability to engage with others and cultural capabilities that are relevant to tutors and others involved in foundation-level teaching.
  • Four levels of professional standard. Imagine a poutama or staircase with four steps. The first step describes knowledge about foundation teaching. The second step describes the application of this knowledge. This connects with some of the entry-level qualifications we have including the NZCALNE (Voc) and NZCATT at level 5 on the qualifications framework. Step three describes more extended capability and expertise. And the top tier describes expert tutors providing leadership in different contexts and capacities.

As a sector, we know quite a lot about what kinds of skills, competencies and other outputs we expect from our tutors with regards to the first two steps above.

But what we need to know more about, and where the really exciting work is, relates to our best tutors. And this means the top two tiers of our proposed structure.

For example, how can we describe the capabilities of expert tutors who are more experienced, who can demonstrate extended knowledge and application of foundation teaching skills?

This is where we need to ask a lot of questions. For example:

  • Who are our high-performing and best tutors? And what makes them better? What kinds of evidence can we point to?
  • How can we unpack the skills and capabilities that great tutors already have in a way that helps us inform the design and development of this framework?
  • What about tutors who demonstrate the ability to provide leadership, guidance and mentoring to others? What does that look like in practical terms?
  • What are the findings from current research and best practice about how we should be working with priority learner groups including Maori, Pasifika and youth?

Once we can articulate this in a clear way we can do a couple of things.

One is that we’ll be able to describe tutors with a range of skills and abilities when we need to. This includes new tutors, expert tutors, and – yes – tutors who might not be letting their light shine as brightly as it could.

So organisations will be able to highlight their strengths and needs in terms of tutor capabilities.

The second thing is that we’ll have a set of tools to design bespoke approaches to professional development where we do identify gaps and needs. And by we I mean you.

And this should apply at both the level of the organisation as well as with regards to individual tutors.

My vision for this is that it becomes something that empowers tutors to go from good to great. And creates clear pathways for professional and career development.

Nearly 80,000 words later…! All collections for the NZCALNE (Voc) are now live on Pathways Awarua.


Screenshot 2017-09-29 14.11.46

If you follow my blog, you’ll know that over the last eight months I have only posted content relating to the new NZCALNE (Voc).

Well… we’re done. I finished the writing a few months back, but I’m very happy to report that all seven collections including all the new and revised content are now live on Pathways Awarua.

If you’re already registered, you’ll automatically have access to all of the new content. If you’re not, you can enrol as a new tertiary educator.

This has been a mammoth writing project with something close to 77,000 words of new and updated content.

I kinda feel like I’ve said everything I want to say about the NZCALNE (Voc). My sincere thanks to the awesome team at Pathways Awarua.

What’s next…? Probably, more of the same, but I’m open to ideas. Let me know.

Cheers, Graeme

 

Cashflow 101 Experiment – Part 2: Developing a vocabulary assessment


vocab profiler Cashflow

Feel free to skip this one… It’s a bit on the technical side. But I wanted to document how I developed a couple of targeted diagnostic assessments. These relate to my Cashflow 101 experiment that I’m running at the moment.

This one relates to the vocabulary used in the game. I’ll do a separate post on the numeracy diagnostic that I created.

Cashflow 101 is a board game that teaches financial literacy. As you play the game you learn how the concepts work. But there is a bit of jargon and technical lingo to learn as well.

You also have to do some maths as you play the game. But that’s for another post. Ultimately, I want to gamify the course and qualification that I teach.

What I wanted to do here was develop a couple of assessments that test what people know before learning the game. These needed to focus on context specific vocabulary and numeracy skills.

Below is my process for developing the diagnostic assessments. These are my pre and post tests for the experiment.

Vocabulary Word Bank

First of all, I needed to come up with a bank of words to work from. I found a PDF version of the instructions online and uploaded this to the online Vocab Profiler.

I’ve written about how I’ve used this tool before. It’s not perfect, but it acts like a kind of filter to help me focus.

Once I submitted the text, the Vocab Profiler sorted the words according to frequency (in other words how often they are used).

I printed out the frequency lists and then made my own selection for the word bank.

You can see my print out and working in the image at the top of this page.

I used the lists to develop a word bank of technical words. Here’s a shot of the first page of the word bank. I’ve added in the definitions.

Screenshot 2015-09-18 21.18.57

The key is as follows:

  • 1K = First thousand words of English
  • 2K = Second thousand words of English
  • AWL = Academic Word List
  • Off list = Words not in the 1K, 2K, or AWL

In terms of the Learning Progressions that we use in New Zealand, most of the vocabulary that’s interesting is probably Step 4, 5, and 6. Mainly step 6 or Off List according to the Vocab Profiler.

From the word bank I developed the vocabulary assessment. Here’s a screenshot of the first page:

Screenshot 2015-09-18 21.24.28

On retrospect I think I was a bit overzealous. There were 38 words in my vocabulary assessment. That’s too many. Feel free to revise it for me.

My preferred format for vocabulary assessments is what I call a partial cloze. I gap out part of the word in a sentence. It’s simple and easy to do.

The person taking the test should be able to get some of the meaning from context. And a bit of a hint from the first few letters.

If they know the word, but can’t spell it they might have a go at writing it. But if they don’t know the word, the context and letters aren’t enough to give the game away.

When I mark it, I mark it once for correct spelling and then a second time for word knowledge (i.e. if it’s clear they know the word but just can’t spell it).

If you’re interested, you can download and use any of the following. Let me know in the comments if you do.

  1. Cashflow Wordbank
  2. Cashflow Vocab Pretest

Gamification 101: How To Turn The Course I Teach Into A Game


IMG_2903

Technical stuff is hard to teach. This is because it’s… well… technical. As a trainer you have to work hard to make things understandable.

One way to do this is to turn it into a game. Or a series of games.

I’m interested in this at the moment because I’m experimenting with Cashflow 101. This is a game that teaches financial literacy.

My goal is to gamify the course and qualification that I teach. I want to incorporate some teaching of the concepts people need. But I want most of the emphasis to be on the game play.

I haven’t given up on my idea for Tutoropoly or some kind of cooperative board game where players have to work together to collectively win (or lose).

But I thought I’d tackle something a bit easier first. So I’ve devised a prototype. It’s more of a card game. And much easier to design and play.

IMG_2902

The purpose of the game is to get people using the vocabulary that we use when we talk about our stuff. It’s kind of teacher vocabulary. It’s not very interesting to civilians. But it is the language of our trade.

IMG_2901

So far, I’ve produced a paper version of the card game. We’ve had a couple of goes at this at home. The game play is Fish. But the next iteration will incorporate a few rules from Canasta to liven things up.

If I get around the finishing it, I might post the templates here. Anyone interested in a copy? Let me know in the comments.

Literacy & Numeracy Jobs Wanted: Setting Up LN Job Board


job-board-shutterstock

Are you looking for staff with literacy and numeracy expertise and credentials?

If you have a literacy and numeracy related job to advertise, I will post it here for free. The same thing applies if you are looking for a contractor or consulting expertise relating to adult literacy and numeracy.

At the moment, I am only interested in jobs offered, not jobs wanted.

This is an experiment… And I’m happy to give it some time and energy thanks to the responses I got the other day (check out the comment section if you’re interested).

For the present time, I’m happy to post any literacy and numeracy related positions, jobs or contract work. I will post positions for literacy and numeracy related work in New Zealand, Australia, for online or remote work, and internationally if I get them.

This includes work where the job is for someone who is a dual professional, e.g. a specialist in some content area other than numeracy and literacy, but who has the skills to embed literacy and numeracy into that content. NCALNE qualified trades trainers and vocational tutors fall into this category.

And of course, I’ll post jobs that are for literacy and numeracy specialists.

Terms and conditions are whatever I feel like at the time and I reserve the right not to publish your company’s job or position if I think it’s dodgy or breaches my sense of ethics or any other rules I make up at any later stage.

Possible ideas for job postings could include any or all of these:

  • Vocational and trade-related training at levels 1 and 2 where literacy and numeracy are embedded.
  • Workplace Literacy (WPL) and numeracy education.
  • Intensive literacy and numeracy (ILN).
  • Adult literacy and numeracy education including professional development and related employment or contract work.
  • Any other foundation learning focused training where literacy and numeracy are required or desired.
  • Any management, support, coordination, or consulting positions where the focus is on supporting tutors or trainers in any of the roles above.

How do I do I get a job posted here?

For the present time, if you want to post a job here you can leave a message in the comment section of this blog post (or any post on my blog), and we’ll work out how to exchange the info.

I’ll probably ask you for the following:

  1. An relevant image that I can upload, e.g. your company logo or branding.
  2. The text for the job advertisement.
  3. An expiry date for the post.
  4. A commitment to answer any questions that people leave on the site regarding the job.
  5. A commitment to come back and comment when or if the position is filled.

I’ll probably just post your text “as is” but I also reserve the right to edit it or make comments as well.

If you think this is useful to someone, particularly someone in management who might not regularly see my blog, please consider sharing this post with them via one of the sharing buttons below. Or just message them with the short link to this page: http://wp.me/p1JmwP-LP

If I get any traction with this I may revisit my idea for some kind of voluntary “opt in” register of LN credentialed professionals who are currently active. Thanks for the support so far.

How to get started embedding vocabulary into your training by creating a word bank


Wordbank

Vocabulary rocks…!

If you’re going to focus on just one thing when it comes to embedding literacy into your trades or vocational training it has to be vocabulary.

Vocabulary runs through all of the literacy progressions and it’s probably the best bang for your buck in terms of time spent embedding anything on the literacy side of things.

If your learners have a basic vocabulary of 2,000 high frequency words, it’s likely that they can understand  roughly 80% of the words in an academic text.

But they need to know around 95% of the words in a text before they can successfully guess the meanings of unknown words and actually make sense of a text.

The best way to get started with embedding vocabulary is to develop your own Word Banks that are focused around very specific content areas that you have to teach. Here I’m particularly talking about aspects of your teaching or training programme where there are a lot of academic, specialised, or technical words.

Once you have a Word Bank for a particular chunk of teaching, there are all sorts of things you can use it for. This includes:

  • Creating mini vocabulary diagnostic assessments for pre and post testing of learner knowledge
  • Creating all kinds of fun activities to teach and practise the language.

More on that in another post still to come.

So here’s how you go about creating the Word Bank. Think in terms of the following three categories and follow the instructions below:

  • Everyday Words
  • Academic Words
  • Specialised or Technical Words

Everyday Words – Step 3 on the Vocabulary Progression

  1. List the high-use, everyday words that relate to the content you intend to teach.
  2. You can include some less common words as long as they don’t belong in the Academic or Specialised lists.
  3. You can include words from the second thousand (2K) word list.

Academic Words – Step 4/5 on the Vocabulary Progression

  1. List the academic words you need for the content you intend to teach. Think of words that describe processes or academic tasks.
  2. You can include some of the high-use specialised words you need.
  3. And you can include words from the academic word list (AWL). Highly specialised or technical words should be in the list below.

Specialised Words – Step 6 on the Vocabulary Progression

  1. List the more highly specialised and technical words you need for the content you intend to teach.
  2. Think of the jargon of your trade or content area including specialised acronyms and informal language.
  3. You can include words outside of the 1K, 2K, and AWL.

Here’s a handy worksheet you can use to do all of this. It’s the same as the image above. I suggest you print it out A3 size or as large as you can. Click the download link below: