Teaching Adults

Teaching Adults

As we go through life, we never recognize what life is teaching until much later. Experience is the best teacher, right? This statement “experience is the best teacher” is a common saying that suggests that we learn best from our own experiences. In many cases, this is true. When we make mistakes, when we experience failures, or encounter challenges, we often gain valuable insights and learn important lessons that we are unlikely to forget.

However, it’s worth noting that while experience can be an excellent teacher, it is not always the most efficient or effective way to learn. In many cases, we can learn from the experiences of others and avoid making the same mistakes ourselves.

Well, when I was teaching, I never realized the importance of the lessons I was learning along my journey. Making connections with learners is what I wanted to do and, I had a bunch of different ways to try to do it. Also, lucky for me, my experiences would prepare me for my career working with adult learners.

Text by: Anastasia Spyropoulou

I took the time to define who my learners were, understand their perspectives, and pay close attention to their background knowledge. But this was no easy feat -my learners had a wide variety of experiences. It was hard work. Preparing for adult learners means you need to take a few things into account:

Make Content Relatable

From the outset, you need to make the content relatable and show that it’s important. You can keep your students interested by referencing your own time in the classroom.

Lean on colleagues

You may not have all the experiences needed to relate to the current classroom, but there are loads of teachers who would love to help you by sharing their experiences. You can’t make content relevant for learners without getting input from them so I encourage you to lean on those who are in the field. We know incredible things happen in the classroom every day -funny things, sad things, inspiring things, creative things. Let’s hear about those things! When your learners have the chance to relate to their peers you will have their attention.

Classroom management

Classroom management refers to the techniques and strategies that teachers use to create a positive and productive learning environment in their classrooms. Effective classroom management helps to establish a safe and supportive atmosphere in which students feel comfortable and motivated to learn.

Some of the key elements of good classroom management include:

  • Establishing clear rules and expectations: This involves setting clear guidelines for behaviour, communication, and academic performance. We should communicate these rules to students at the beginning of the school year, and consistently enforce them throughout the year.
  • Creating a positive classroom climate: We can create a positive classroom environment by showing respect and kindness to our students, fostering a sense of community, and encouraging open communication.
  • Providing structure and routine: Students often thrive in structured environments that provide clear expectations for their behaviour and performance. We can provide structure through routines and consistent schedules.
  • Encouraging student engagement: We can promote engagement by providing challenging and interesting lessons, incorporating student interests and experiences into the curriculum, and offering opportunities for collaboration and discussion.
  • Addressing behaviour issues promptly and consistently: When students violate classroom rules or disrupt the learning environment, we should address the issue promptly and consistently. This can involve a range of strategies, such as verbal warnings, consequences for misbehaviour, or positive reinforcement for good behaviour.

Follow Up

So, you had relatable content, you got everyone involved, and you avoided technical distractions, but what happens next? We have always heard that the average learner only remembers a small amount of the lesson. Simply put, no learners can recall everything, and it’s impossible to know which parts different students will remember. People have different learning styles and preferences, and what works well for one person may not be as effective for another. As a result, we should strive to use a variety of reinforcement techniques to accommodate the diverse needs of their learners.

For instance, some learners might benefit from visual aids such as diagrams, charts, and videos that illustrate how something works. Others might prefer hands-on activities and experiments to reinforce their learning. Some learners may need verbal reinforcement, such as repeating key concepts or summarizing important points, while others may prefer to read and take notes.

In addition, learners have different levels of prior knowledge and experience, which can affect their ability to understand and retain new information. Some learners may require more repetition and practice to master a concept, while others may need more challenging activities to keep them engaged and motivated.

Overall, it’s important to be aware of the different learning styles and needs of learners and to use a range of reinforcement techniques to maximize their learning outcomes.

Share Stories

If you’re trying to get buy-in on any techniques or instructional tools for a broad range of learners, you need to use a variety of tactics. Give data on why it works, give printouts showing how it works, and/or use supplementary resources. Have weekly tips planned, but try and get the students to steer the ship themselves.


Do you want to know how well things are working in the classroom? The best way to find out is by simply asking. Ask your students to fill out a survey. If you can, make it anonymous. Every piece of feedback you get is important, even the less positive one. Use survey responses to move forward more than to look back.

It’s essential to take methods and ideas that work in the classroom and expand on them whenever you’re trying to reach adult learners. Give them something that makes them excited and you will be thrilled with the results. We’re all in the business of trying to help the kids, and adults are just grown-up kids after all.