Effective adult educators
What does it take to be an effective educator? What skills are required of instructors to best pass on knowledge to adult learners? Educators preparing to teach working professionals must consider these sorts of questions in order to run effective, valuable, entertaining and informative adult-oriented courses. As an educator, one must develop or improve upon certain general skills that will help one engage adult students and accomplish objectives set out from the get-go. Skills in the areas of communication, competency, social/personal relations and class management are key.
- Communication – When communicating with adults, it is fundamental to engage students of all backgrounds and ages in a respectful and open manner. Being able to engage students beyond the classroom is also vital; educators must feel comfortable using diverse technological platforms such as e-mail, Skype, Google Hangout, Twitter, Facebook, chat rooms, text messages, phone calls, etc. Likewise, the educator should present information in a way that will encourage cordial but critical discussion, and always make themselves understood regarding their objectives and expectations for the course.
- Competency – Educators must have the ability to design a course from scratch and deliver it in a competent fashion. A sound but flexible structure that promotes critical and creative thinking is crucial considering the needs, time constraints and experiences of adult learners. The educator should be able to write out succinct and clear learning objectives, student assessments and a relevant curriculum, and show up to class prepared to facilitate the discussion of the material and answer any questions in a highly knowledgeable manner. It is imperative for educators to keep up to date on the latest theories, trends and practices in their field.
- Social or People – A good educator must master how to best connect with his or her adult students, both as a collective and one-on-one and regardless of background, age, gender and experience. The educator has to be highly perceptive and capable of mediating between differing opinions without falling behind schedule or veering too off topic. Likewise, the educator must build a positive and safe learning environment by being punctual, honest, respectful, helpful and open to a wide array of perspectives. It is also important for educators to be able to put themselves in their students’ shoes to better understand their points of view and therefore contribute to the discussion in a useful and efficient way.
- Class Management – Strong leadership is another skill required of adult educators. To start off, the educator must distinctly voice class objectives, requirements and expectations and then stick with them throughout the duration of the course. Establishing a consistent yet flexible routine that will provide the course with a solid structure will make life easier for both instructor and student. Likewise, finding a happy balance between being the student’s friend versus being the student’s teacher is necessary to run an organized course and maintain a cordial environment in the classroom. Finally, being open to feedback and introducing student suggestions to future lesson plans can only strengthen the educator’s position in the eyes of his or her students.
Marios Siathas, General Manager, EIMF