Generally, one of the most fulfilling career paths is teaching. It’s a stable job that comes with a sense of satisfaction from positively impacting the lives of others. And, those who choose to work in the field of adult education may find an extra level of fulfillment in their career. Teaching adults presents unique challenges and opportunities that other teachers may not experience.
Here are some tips for a successful career in adult education.
Know Your Audience
Before you can even begin to think about designing lessons and teaching adults, you need to first understand who your students are. Understanding your audience is critical to engage them in learning.
Say you’ve been employed by an assisted living facility to teach a computer class to residents. You would need to know:
- The level of their computer skills. Do they know how to turn a computer on? Do they know how to use basic Microsoft Office programs?
- What kinds of things they want to be able to do with a computer. Do they want to be able to stay in touch with family members? Do they want to do their own shopping online?
- How much time they are willing or able to dedicate to learning. Are you looking at a short, six-week class? Or, is this something that will be ongoing for a year or more?
Make It Relevant
Once you know your audience, it’s important to make sure that the material you’re teaching is relevant to them. In other words, it should be something that they need or want to learn.
This can be a challenge, especially if you’re teaching a required course that not all of your students are interested in. In this case, it’s important to try to find ways to make the material relevant to their lives.
For example, let’s say you’re teaching a financial literacy class to high school students. You could make the material relevant to their lives by discussing things like how to manage a limited budget, how to save for a car or college, and how to invest money.
Keep It Interesting
Just because the material is relevant doesn’t mean it will be interesting to your students. To keep them engaged, you need to find ways to make the material interesting.
There are a few different ways you can do this:
- Use real-life examples. Discuss case studies or current events that relate to the material you’re teaching.
- Make it interactive. Use group activities, simulations, and other hands-on learning experiences.
- Relate it to popular culture. If you can find a way to tie the material to popular culture references your students understand, they’ll be more likely to pay attention.
Adults learn differently than children. They often have less time to spare and may need more frequent breaks. They may also need more one-on-one time with the instructor.
It’s important to be patient with your students and to be willing to adjust your teaching methods as needed. Don’t be afraid to slow down the pace of your lessons or to provide extra help outside of class.
Teaching adults can be a rewarding experience. By keeping your audience in mind, making the material relevant, and being patient, you can engage them in learning and help them to achieve their goals.