TRAINING APPRENTICE INSTRUCTORS
One of us works with an annual summer institute for journeymen and apprenticeship instructors. These typically are rank-and-file workers who have either been identified or like to teach what they do as a trade. They represent a variety of trades, such as carpentry, electrical, drafting, boiler making, and plumbing. Generally, although most participants have never had any teacher training of any sort, they are very enthusiastic and motivated to learn to teach better.
The institute involves an intensive week-long seminar devoted to helping participants do a better job in their teaching roles. The curriculum is based on four seminar topics: adult learning processes, communications, testing and evaluation, and using media. Each topic is covered each day, giving the effect of going to different "classes" throughout the week.
The individualizing process is used for the first topic area noted above. It is rooted in adult learning principles and consists of five distinct sessions lasting 90 minutes per day. The sessions are as follows: (a) Setting a Climate; (b) Helping Adults Learn; (c) Howard McClusky's Power-Load-Margin theory (Baum, 1978; Hiemstra, 1980a, 1981b; James, 1986; McClusky, 1963, 1967, 1970; Main, 1979); (d) learning styles (Smith, 1982); and (e) motivation and teaching in a motivated way. This curriculum has been preset by earlier arrangements with the sponsoring organizations. Thus, needs assessment activities and learning contracts are not feasible. However, other aspects of the
individualizing process are employed and the employment of needs assessment activities and learning contracts are discussed throughout the week together.
The first day together, for example, begins with some activities that are devoted to setting a climate for mutual learning. In this initial session the 3-R's on relationships described in earlier chapters are emphasized. This involves introductions, ice breakers, and giving them an opportunity to relay some of their stories on the trials and tribulations of teaching adults. The instructor also has an opportunity to share personal stories about initial teaching efforts and how much had to be learned to become better. In essence, a tone is set that mutually all will learn how to best teach adults using the best knowledge about adulthood and adult learning that is available.
The second day of the institute is devoted to the topic of helping adults learn. Participants are asked to take the "Educational Orientation Questionnaire," (Hadley, 1975) which is then scored and processed during the group session. This activity always creates lots of discussion as participants usually for the first time can see where they fall on some sort of a teaching continuum.
The differences between some pedagogical and some andragogical assumptions are then discussed and the problems of having to present a fairly structured program such as the institute detailed in light of issues like andragogy, self-directed learning, and the individualizing process. The importance of listening, treating learners like adults, the use of humor, what it means to be a facilitator, and other similar topics also are addressed.
The rest of the week is devoted to a discussion of learning styles, power-load-margin in adult life, and motivating learners through good and lively instruction. A variety of techniques are used, including mini-lectures, small and large group discussion, simulations, role playing, learning exercises, and several others. Lots of feedback is provided and feedback is sought from participants. An important key to continuing success of the institute is the inherent flexibility and adaptability that is so central to the individualizing process.
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