Adult Learners ~ No Big Deal, right? Wrong!

Yes, our 1 to 1 Ipad initiative is for our students. But, before we can put Ipads into the hands of 451 kids, we as adults have some more learning and growing to do. As leader of my building, I consider my staff to be my students, and just as when I was teaching 6 and 7 year olds, all of them are unique and wonderful and need something just a little different than their neighbor. I love teaching!

I think we do ourselves and our adult learners a disservice when we assume that just because they are “grown ups,” they all learn alike. They are all ready to have their paradigms nudged. They will happily soak up and internalize all the good professional learning we have to share. When we do that, we do not value the background of our adult learners, what they bring to the table, their learning style, their worries, their hopes, their fears, their excitement, their optimism, their ideas.

Teachers especially, I think, are asked to turn on a dime; embrace this strategy, start using that assessment, change to these standards…change is a constant in our profession, and my friends, change is hard. But it doesn’t have to be. I am a fan and believe in the work and logic of Shirley Hord and the Concerns Based Adoption Model and as we plan ahead for 1 to 1 roll out at my school, it is a framework I refer to often. CBAM has three components: Stages of Concern, Levels of Use and Innovation Configurations. Even as I considered who were the two pilot teachers to launch the 1 to 1 work this Spring with just their two classes (See blog post A Long Time Coming) the CBAM Stages of Concern and Levels of Use models informed the invitation.

As a leader, it is one tool I use to support my staff through change, whether it be a change from “the district,” or change they are making in their practice on their own, the model is one that helps me keep things in perspective. In turn, I think I am a better coach (and sometimes straight up administrator) when I acknowledge where people fall on the continuum.

With apologies to Shirley Hord for any inaccuracies in my interpretation, I consider the model like this:

An adult learner who has no knowledge of a change initiative (for whatever reason) is considered at level 0 of the initiative. My job as a leader at this stage, is to provide information in a safe, non-threatening way in order to nudge people to the Informational stage (Level 1). At this point, individuals would like to know more about the initiative, but are not ready to try anything new. (Consider this the “handing-out-an-article,” stage of the work). At Level 2, individuals begin to wonder how the initiative will impact them, personally, and at Level 3 they are in a very mechanical stage of dealing with the “Stuff,” managing materials, getting things ready etc. (think about first year teachers and their many,many late nights getting “stuff,” ready).

So, they have been messing with the materials, managing the “Stuff” and suddenly they have found their way. Behold….Level 4! Consequence! At this level, individuals in the initiative find themselves beginning to reflect more on the impact of the initiative on their learners: How is my use affecting learners? How can I refine it to have more impact? These questions lead them to seek out others for that much needed collaboration and BAM, we are at Level 5 : Collaboration. (ok, if only there was BAM!). Does it get any better than that? You bet, because the final stage of concern is Level 6, the level of Refocusing. I know folks have hit this level when they come to me with ideas on how to make the initiative even better.

Knowing this, at what stage do you predict I was shooting for with the pilot teachers I invited? What characteristics was I looking for?


3 thoughts on “Adult Learners ~ No Big Deal, right? Wrong!

  1. Yes! I can finally comment! πŸ™‚

    But seriously, I think that your two piloting teachers [both FABULOUS, if I might add] are at the end of Level 4 and at the cusp of Level 5. Refinement of our own teaching strategies that will not only help the students in our own respective classrooms, but collaborating in order to impact as many students as possible. Wow, I am so glad you are doing this! πŸ™‚

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