What does it mean to lead?

Supporting student success is an ambiguous statement. What does that really mean? Screen Shot 2016-12-13 at 12.18.28 PM.pngToday, WIOA mandates that we prepare every student to become a life-long learner capable of entering higher education or a sustainable career. This is a daunting task that is not up to the instructors alone. Ensuring students are capable of reaching important milestones is also the responsibility of educational leaders.

With the increasing cultural, social, economic, and instructional diversity of all students, creating customized learning environments is challenging. Furthermore, the switch from a structured school with traditional course sequencing is changing to a more fluid, customized, and dynamic learning community with the boundaries between higher education and the workplace blurring. We are expecting our staff to step into unchartered territory, which can be uncomfortable – possibly unfamiliar – and effectively facilitate learning for adults who are often the most vulnerable members of our communities. To accommodate these needs and changes, education administrators must develop different skills to be effective in leading transformational change.

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i-Pathways, Iowa, and College and Career Readiness Standards

In the state of Iowa, the College and Career Readiness Standards have been introduced to high school completion programs. This is due to the adoption of the Iowa Core Standards that are implemented in the K-12 education systems, which has led to the change in high school equivalency tests, such as the HiSET test. Through this process administrators and instructors are expected to make changes, especially to the curriculum that is produced for students. i-Pathways has come to recognize the need to align their curriculum with the CCR, in an effort to decrease Iowa teacher workload and to ensure commonality between adult education programs. i-Pathways has partnered with experts within the field of adult education and those specifically trained on CCR alignment to create a document that demonstrates the i-Pathways curriculum to the CCR.

Through the College_Career document, instructors will be able to develop lesson plans and individual student learning plans with ease and comfort knowing that the alignment process has been completed for them. The process to identify specific standards to a lesson can be time consuming and difficult to decipher. i-Pathways has alleviated this process by clearly listing CCR standards that match with each lesson and the objectives that follow. This will also allow instructors to identify lessons that fall outside the CCR, but are still in alignment with the Common Core Standards.

By utilizing i-Pathways an Iowa instructor is receiving the entire package. An instructor is provided with a curriculum that is aligned to the CCR, a document that identifies the alignment, an online curriculum, and additional academic resources to address student needs. Iowa instructors now have the opportunity to use i-Pathways as a curriculum that meets their needs as they go through the transition to implement CCR standards.

The Mobile Program: BYOD

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We often talk about building 21st Century skills with adult learners and the need for integrating technology in the classroom. What does this mean for curriculum selections? It means that in order to truly assist adult learners become self directed, the curriculum must be accessible from mobile devices.

As we look at students today, their common characteristic is that they expect anywhere, anytime access to instruction. But are our learners mobile? The answer is yes!

  • Over half of adults in the U.S. own a smartphone.
  • 66% of adults between the ages of 25 to 34 own a smartphone.
  • 44% of K-12 students have access to a smartphone.
  • The mobile phone is the single most common device people use to access the Internet worldwide.

So how do we meet this demand at a time of diversity in skills, background knowledge, and access to technology in the classroom?  A simple and cost effective strategy to help fill these gaps can be the establishment of a BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device policy.

While this concept is becoming more popular, there are steps involved in establishing an effective BYOD plan which leads to successful student outcomes.

  • A BYOD classroom enables students and teachers to access mobile devices including laptops, tablets, and smartphones in the classroom.
  • Program administrators and instructors need to create acceptable usage policies so students are aware of expectations in the classroom. Teaching responsible use of mobile technology also helps build digital citizenship.
  • To be successful with BYOD, its more than allowing students to bring their devices, but it also includes selecting appropriate curriculum that is truly mobile.

Effective instruction has always included linking instructional strategies, rigorous curriculum, and technology to create a meaningful and engaging learning environment. BYOD offers teachers and programs the opportunity to lead with instructional technology.

 

Take the Mystery Out of the Computer-Based GED® Test

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As adult education programs around the country discuss the pros and cons of Computer Based Testing (CBT) for the GED® Exam, it may be helpful to explore the experiences of one of the Illinois pilot programs. Frontier Community College (FCC) was notified in July of 2012 that they were chosen to represent downstate Illinois as one of three pilot programs for CBT. Frontier Community College opened their pilot of CBT on Oct. 29th.

On Oct. 30, 2012, the first candidate at FCC completed the computer-based test and within the first week, the number jumped to 11 testing candidates. As with testing candidates across the state, each test taker brought unique skills, background knowledge, and experiences to the test. They ranged in age from 17 to 55, had minimal to no typing skills. The oldest student had never turned on a computer until four months prior to taking the CBT. So, how did it turn out? Nine of the eleven candidates passed the portion of the GED® test for which they tested. The candidates were very positive about the test indicating that it was easier. They felt they could relate to the topic of the essay question. As a result, test takers felt it improved their writing. The testers noted the display of the test allowed for each question or item set to be shown individually. The outcome was the ability to focus on one question at a time. FCC testers were relieved to not have to worry about bubbling an answer on the wrong line.

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Computer-Based Testing – No Fear of Failure Here

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In Adult Literacy Education, fear of success is often discussed. But what does that really mean? What are people really afraid of? And how can that fear impact our education, job achievement, and even health?

Fear is an emotion that occurs when a person perceives a threat. Maybe the threat is to their safety, their health, their job, or their education. And sometimes, fear is caused by new and unknown experiences. The outcome of fear is that a person automatically pulls away from whatever is causing the fear. It’s a survival mechanism. But what if never facing that fear causes a person to stagnate in their career, their health, and their education? We are immersed in a performance and results driven society that requires continued growth.

Before we can fully understand the impact of fear of failure and success, we need to determine what we are striving to reach. Are we reaching for better health, improved job skills, stronger personal or professional relationships? Each of our experiences, successful or not, bring us to the place we are right now. It is not the individual successes or failures, but rather the collective experience that points to who we are as individuals. Is it really about misplaced value in being defined as successful as opposed to experiencing the process of growth and change.

I work with diverse groups of people on a daily basis by providing instruction and guidance on a variety of topics ranging from implementing online learning, using social media, building marketing strategies, and sharing information on health and fitness.  Each week I encounter people who are afraid to learn something new. They may not recognize their hesitance as a typical survival response, but it is. I know why. I completely understand. I have fallen victim to this feeling myself on several different occasions.

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