The difference between teaching Adult Learners and 16-19 year olds

I teach two groups of GCSE maths learners. One of the groups is an evening class consisting of adults while the other is a morning class consisting of cross-college learners in the age range of 16 – 19 years.

In terms of ability, the adult class is very diverse and therefore harder, yet more enjoyable, to teach. There are no behaviours issues with this group. A significant minority of learners in the evening class are on one of the many (distinct) Access Programmes at the college, meaning that they will be going to university in the next academic year. Of those going to university, some will be pursuing disciplines academic such as mechanical engineering while others will be pursuing vocations such as nursing or occupational health.

In light of the above information, together with the fact that most learners are in full-time employment (and so attend college on a part-time basis), are ethnically diverse, and span all ages between 20 and 58, you can imagine the excellent experience I am acquiring as a trainee teacher in supporting this group!

On the other hand, the class of 16 – 19 year-olds are of very similar ability. There have been some behaviour management issues in the past; however, these have decreased in number as my relationship with the learners has flourished and my skills as a teacher have improved. This group adds a very good balance to my teaching timetable, allowing me to develop skills which are somewhat different to the set of skills required in supporting the adult group.

Other differences include their working formats and behaviours. Generally, the adults prefer to work on paper whereas the younger learners prefer to have a real variety of activities and tasks.

Even though criteria based achievement is an important aspect of education, in general, FE can be much more focussed on the personal progress that a learner makes. In comparison to other sectors (Primary, Secondary, and HE), FE is arguably the only second-chance sector!

About the Blogger

Our Trainee Mathematics Teacher, Harsh is training to teach on the PGDE (FE and Skills) course.

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