10 Useful Tips - Teaching Adults and the Elderly
This is Part 2 of the Hub: Computer Training – Benefits of introducing the Elderly to IT
I have been teaching Adults and the elderly for just over 10 years now from 18 to 70 and it’s given me a lot of experience. I have also learnt a lot in my journey and would like to share it with any one who is thinking of Teaching Adults or the Elderly. Apart from Assessing NVQ's, I teach I T Software and ESOL, so it’s based on that.
- Plan lessons, set objectives and assess if they were met by given exercises and Q & A Sessions. Questions like “do you all understand that?” is not advisable, as some really don’t, but wouldn’t want to make it obvious. I remember asking someone if she had understood something and she said “yes” while shaking her head.
- Check they remember the last session. Recap before proceeding with the class or session.
- Some humour in lessons. It lightens the atomosphere and people learn quicker when they are not all tensed up. (more of this below)
- Be patient. Sometimes you will have to explain something more than once. Some are fast learners, some are slow. Learning paces will differ.
- Break if stressed, if someone is trying to be a pain in the “what’s it called”. Instead of showing signs of being angry/upset, politely call for a 10 minute coffee break. Some might want to stay in class, which is fine, but make them aware that there is a 10min break, as you might not be in the room. We are all human. It could be that the person got out of bed on the wrong side that day and in most cases they would apologise later. (Hopefully, situations like this would be rare).
Photo taken on the last day - One of my ESOL Classes (Learners brought in lots of food)
- Smile. It’s reassuring and it makes you approachable – When I was in my Teens, my French teacher used to frown a lot and shout to the class “silance”. I never ever wanted to ask him any questions. I’m sure some people relate to that.
- Respect them. Don’t make them feel stupid. E.g comments like “like I told you before” or saying “Jeez” or “my goodness!!” under your breath. Huffing and Puffing. I’ve seen it happen and noticed such learners don’t like to ask for help again and then get behind in learning or quit the Course. (If this happens a lot, you could be seen as having a Low retention of Students)
- Always check to see how they are doing. E.g in I T Sessions, you could be at one end of the class with learners, which means some people are left working on their own. Call out to such people. A simple“ Maria, are you okay?” is reassuring. People don’t like to feel neglected or maybe I should change that to people easily feel neglected.
- IT and ESOL sessions are normally approx 3 hrs which also includes a coffee break. Take the break, leave the room. If you stay people will engage you in conversation however, sometimes it can’t be helped. A short break really helps and refreshes you for the next hour or so, especially if you have 16 – 20 people in your class, with no Teaching Assistant.
- Feedback - If they have done an exercise terribly - it's not really a good idea to tell them what they have done is really bad. It can knock confidence and remember there are others "half listening". When I am in such situations, I say something along the lines of - "Well, at least you made an effort, try doing it again....". I might also do a quick reminder of how the exercise should be done or pair them up with someone and they are very willing to give it another go.
I enjoy teaching Adults. It's a rewarding job and lovely that lots of them are still in touch with me, years after they have left my class. I learn from them too e.g few phrases of their languages and bits about their culture. (◕‿◕)