What's it like teaching adults?

(34 Posts)

Hi, just need some help mulling something over if that's OK! There's a vacancy in my area for a teacher of my subject to teach the Foundation GCSE course to adults during the day. I taught secondary for 11 years (have been out a year) and I'm thinking of applying.

I've always liked the idea of teaching adults but have no idea about the realities of it compared to secondary teaching. Can anyone tell me what it's like in practice? I think it would only be one or two classes but I have no idea what that would be like in reality, and I'd like to know how the dynamics of an adult class might work and what challenges I might face. And the positives too, of course!

Any advice much appreciated smile.

sheridand Mon 02-Sep-13 18:34:17

I did it inbetween one secondary post and another, a long time prior to my giving it all up and raising kids, so my experience is in 2001, probably not useful in regard to curriculum etc!

However, I taught literacy and lifeskills for a time, and also History GCSE (my subject) and found both experiences a joy. Adults returning to education are gorgeous to teach, they are there because they want to be, nothing like your secondary pupils!

The issues are bigger, sometimes, lots more at risk, lots more at stake, lots of lack of confidence, but the joy when they do it is immense. I'd do it again in a shot if I had the chance. As it is, i'm returning to teaching via a TA post 9 6 years out, a slow return is good!), but if an adult post came up i'd be on it, no control issues, and the problem is in stopping them working, not getting them to! I had to REALLY rein in the amount of work my students were doing, waaay too much!

Shame that the colleges round my way are laying off, not taking on. If you have a post, DO IT!

Plus you do get to go out for a pint with them!

Oh thanks so much for replying, that's really helpful.

rabbitonthemoon Tue 03-Sep-13 20:53:19

I teach at Uni after being a reception teacher for a long time. It was a big jump but you know, a lot of the skills are strangely the same. I still have to pull upon behaviour management strats with my 18-21 years olds (!) but more about relationship building and boundaries than stickers smile

My first session I felt very apprehensive but it has been really fine and a good career change. Do ask away if you have more questions.

What, grown-ups don't like stickers? Do Haribos still work? grin

They replied to my initial email asking for my CV. Do I put the sort of hours I'm looking for in my covering letter? (I have a Reception starter so the hours need to work). Tbh I wasn't planning on working this year (I gave myself 2 years off with the DC) but this seems like a good opportunity, especially if I could fit it in during the school day.

If I progress any further I will have lots of questions, thanks!

rabbitonthemoon Wed 04-Sep-13 06:47:59

Ha ha I took in a Halloween tub of haribo and they ate the lot! I'd ask about hours and find out if evening work is involved. My sessions are 9.30-12.30, 1.30-4.30 and 5.30-8, a mixture throughout the week and I can work at home sometimes.

Eek they want to see me at the end of the month with a view to doing some teaching after Christmas! Apparently there might be some gcse available but it's more likely to be basic skills or Family Learning. Sounds like something I could really enjoy. Anyone have experience of this?

Will have to 'micro-teach' at interview to two members of staff. Will definitely need advice on this - how do I pitch it? Will they expect to see pair/group work and self-assessment and snappy activities as they would for a secondary post?

ouryve Wed 04-Sep-13 22:19:59

I'd say yes they would want to see those things. Many adults coming in to do GCSE/Foundation skills have barriers to learning and needs lots of confidence building and reinforcement.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 04-Sep-13 22:21:05

If you are teaching GCSE to adults I think you will probably find it very rewarding.
I taught adults for a while not GCSE but the same level 2.
There are so many people who have been /are being held back by not having this qualification it can be humbling to see them succeed and their life improve.
They are usually better behaved than school/college youngsters, but ime just as good at procrastination grin.

jaspercat2002 Thu 05-Sep-13 11:27:15

I have been teaching adults with learning disabilities for a couple of years but am about to take on a functional skills maths course within family learning. Quite nervous as the group will be very different to what I am used to. Let me know if you want to keep in touch OP - we could swap tips as we go along!

Sounds great - I'd be doing literacy. I was thinking about how different it would be last night - even when teaching Yr 7s you can presuppose that they've had 6 years of sustained literacy teaching prior to coming to you. I guess you can't presuppose anything with adults.

So they've sent me through all the formal application forms to fill in. On the job description it says very clearly that you need to have the City and Guilds Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector qualification and some experience teaching adults. I have neither, but they have seen my CV. Shall I just fill in the forms and send them back, or double-check with them?

I've googled the C&G course and it's a foundation level teaching qualification - no degree required, no teaching qualification required. As I have the PGCE, do you think that's why they still want to see me? Will I need to do this course anyway, to get a qualification in Adult Ed? Does anyone know?

mizu Wed 11-Sep-13 21:48:36

I love it.

Teach ESOL and have mostly adult classes at L2. Also teach a couple of 16-18 classes and they are a completely different kettle of fish!

You get a lot back as the students want to be there and have chosen to improve their language/literacy skills.

It can be very, very rewarding and I always enjoy being in the classroom.

Admin and targets etc are a pain in the arse in FE and the pressure is on to get learners to achieve although I wouldn't let this put you off.

AllDirections Wed 11-Sep-13 21:59:52

The City and Guilds Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector qualification is the minimum that you would need. Your PGCE is far more advanced than that and will more than suffice.

Primrose123 Wed 11-Sep-13 22:10:04

Mizu do you mind if I ask you a few questions? I got my PGCE with ESOL last year, and have been checking the local colleges' websites for vacancies, but there is nothing coming up. I have been volunteering in a local college for the past year, and did my placement there for the two years before that.

Do you have any suggestions of anything I could do? Any other places that might teach ESOL?

I have put searches into google with 'Esol vacancy <town name>' but it just gives vacancies all over the uk, nothing local.

mizu Thu 12-Sep-13 09:15:44

It is quite hard to get into an ESOL department these days with the gov cuts - we used to be quite important and classes were free but now all learners have to pay unless they are on job seekers allowance. It is still subsidised though.

The number of our P/T (adult) classes has been cut each year since 2011 and we have increased our classes for job seekers and 16-18 year olds as that is - at the moment - government priority.

I have lost 2 members of staff this year and they have not been replaced.

However, I do think that it is being at the right place at the right time. We have a member of staff who did her CELTA last year in our college and it just happened that I needed a class staffed for the year. She was recommended by the EFL dept and this year she is teaching a few classes for us (variable hours contract so no proper post but gets paid hourly which some people prefer).

I would send your CV out to colleges near you and keep volunteering.

Have you got any community projects going on in your area? We have a teacher who teaches the Chinese women's group in a community hall once a week. Also some schools with large numbers of immigrant families sometimes want classes set up for ESOL teachers to teach some of the mums from other countries who want to learn English.

It is definitely worth pursuing as the teaching is great and the learners - in the main! - are eager to learn and classes are great fun.

Primrose123 Thu 12-Sep-13 21:53:45

Thanks Mizu, I'll do that. I love the work, so I really hope doing the course wasn't a waste of time and money!

It's so great to have some positive responses - I used to work with someone who used to teach adults and she hated it. Really hope they want to hire me now!

Still worried about that micro-teaching though...

cuggles Sun 15-Sep-13 18:22:11

I came on here just to start a similar thread Thistle, as I am thinking about applying for a post teaching access courses (and other level 3 maybe). I have QTS and have taught secondary for 13 years prior to 3 yrs out being a SAHM (so far). Hours are negotiable but only a year contract so I am not sure whether to figure out all the childcare for one year or whether it might be a foot in the door. But my main issue is, I haven't taught adults or the actual subject (have it as an A level though and teach a similar one now)..could I do it?? Would love it though, I think!?

It's hard to know what to do, isn't it? I've been reading up on teaching adult literacy and so far it's reassuringly familiar, just with a different focus.

I figure if I'm going to be useless they'll be able to tell at interview! grin hmm

cuggles Mon 16-Sep-13 13:45:37

Go for it Thistle, good luck!

Chottie Tue 17-Sep-13 20:23:43

Another vote for teaching adults. It is so rewarding and it is wonderful to really feel you have made a difference to someone's life.

overthemill Wed 25-Sep-13 10:01:40

this is the best adult learning info ever. He taught me on my PGCE (PCE) and is so knowledgeable, it may help you. Adults are different learners from children, entirely different motivation for example.

overthemill Wed 25-Sep-13 10:02:58

and it's also hugely rewarding!

Aaaargh I have an interview date! It's a week on Tuesday and I have to do a 10 minute micro-teach on 'a topic suitable for stage 1 learners'. I don't know where to start!

I haven't been in a classroom for a year and I've never taught adults. How do I avoid utterly embarrassing myself?

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