Adult Continuing Education & Training Tutors’ Manual Part 4.1
PART FOUR: ORGANISING YOURSELF FOR YOUR
There are some things you need to find out to be well
prepared for the first session. It would be particularly useful
for you, if you have not taught before, to find out:
where you will be operating;
what kind of facilities you can expect;
what kind of resources, or teaching aids, will be available;
Better still, talk to an experienced tutor or your ACET Manager about
• specialist rooms or dedicated facilities;
• the availability of tables, sinks, store cupboards;
• what it is reasonable to expect people to bring.
If you find out that you will be working in an ordinary school classroom
with desks and chairs, but no sinks or taps (assuming that you need
them), that projectors have to be booked and carried in, and that you need
your own extension lead, then at least you will know what to expect!
Whatever you intend teaching, or however you intend teaching it, always
start from the assumption that the most basic approach is the most
reliable. If you plan to work with overhead projectors, photocopiers or any
electrical apparatus, then you may be vulnerable to power cuts, bulb
failures or shorting, so you should always prepare a fall-back strategy,
such as copies of hand outs rather than just having your own overhead
projector acetates or films.
Then, to help prepare yourself properly, visit your site and room sometime
before you actually teach and look out for the details on the checklist on
page 4.2. Then on the day the course actually starts, arrive at least 15
minutes early for your first session and check for any surprises; eg:
• Someone else thinks they have the same room. (See the
supervising member of staff at once.)
• The furniture and chairs are inadequate or not arranged. (Sort
out arrangements to the best of your ability.)
Remember, the arrangement of the room may be a compromise between
what is practical for your purposes, (ie you can see everybody) and what
makes a good learning environment for the students. For example, older
students may not want a layout that reminds them of a classroom or
leaves them sitting on small chairs or squeezed into cramped desks. If
discussion is an important feature of your approach, arrange the chairs in
a circle, so everyone can see each other. If you need an overhead
projector, now and again, make sure everyone can see the screen, but
don't let it dominate the room. If students do a lot of practical work then
make sure you have enough tables, extension leads, etc. Students do
value the chance to relate and learn from each other.
Adult Continuing Education & Training Tutors’ Manual Part 4.2
The following list of points is intended to cover all eventualities, so don't
worry if any of the points seem irrelevant to you and your course. You can
use it as a checklist as it is, or to help you draw up your own for your first
session. The list is in three parts; the first and second parts are for before
you arrive, the third for when you get to the Centre and start your first
Y es N o
T h e G en era l S ite
D o yo u k no w :
W h e re th e p h o n e s a n d firs t a id a re ?
W h e re th e to ile ts a re ?
W h a t th e fire a n d e m e rg e n c y a rra n g e m e n ts a re ?
W h a t fa c ilitie s e x is t fo r s tu d e n ts w ith d is a b ilitie s ?
W h a t th e p a rk in g a rra n g e m e n ts a re ?
T h e R o o m Itself
Is it b ig e n o u g h fo r th e g ro u p a n d th e a c tiv itie s y o u w ill h a v e ?
W h a t c h a n g e s w ill y o u h a v e to m a k e in th e la y o u t a n d fa c ilitie s
to m a k e it a s w e lc o m in g a n d p ra c tic a l a s p o s s ib le ?
A re th e re e n o u g h p o w e r p o in ts , fix tu re s , e q u ip m e n t, fa c ilitie s e tc .?
H o w fa r w ill y o u h a v e to c a rry e q u ip m e n t o r m a te ria ls
fro m th e c a r p a rk ?
C o u ld y o u g e t n e a re r fo r "D e liv e rie s "?
W ill y o u n e e d to m a k e s ig n s to d ire c t s tu d e n ts to y o u r ro o m ?
T h e F irst S essio n
D o y o u n e e d a n y s p e c ia lis e d e q u ip m e n t fo r y o u r s e s s io n ?
W h a t c a n y o u e x p e c t w ill b e s u p p lie d ?
W h o m u s t y o u c o n ta c t to m a k e a n y a rra n g e m e n ts ?
H a v e y o u p re p a re d s ig n s to d ire c t s tu d e n ts to y o u r ro o m , if n e e d e d ?
H a v e y o u p re p a re d a n ic e b re a k e r (o p tio n a l)?
D o y o u k n o w w h e re /h o w to g e t y o u r re g is te r(s )?
D o y o u k n o w h o w to c o m p le te th e re g is te r?
H a v e y o u g o t c o p ie s o f e n ro lm e n t fo rm s fo r la te c o m e rs ?
H a v e y o u p ro d u c e d a s e s s io n p la n (s e e p a g e 4 .6 )?
Adult Continuing Education & Training Tutors’ Manual Part 4.3
When You Arrive For Your First Session
What should you do to ensure that your first session is
as problem-free as you can make it? As we have
already said, arrive at least 15 minutes early, but don't
come so early that you are hanging around waiting and
getting unnecessarily nervous! In this time you can:
• Organise any signs directing students to your room (if these are
needed), lay out your teaching materials, and be prepared to welcome
students as they arrive.
• Start on time but always be prepared to welcome latecomers.
• First welcome and thank everyone, then briefly introduce yourself.
(Say who you are, what you do, and why you are teaching that
• Ask people to briefly introduce themselves. If you think it will help get
people relaxed and overcome the initial strangeness, use an ice-
breaker, like one of those below.
• Ask if it's OK to circulate names and 'phone numbers so that students
can contact one another (and arrange this for the next session).
These are activities that serve several purposes; they allow people to
introduce themselves and overcome the strangeness of joining a new
group, develop confidence in contributing, and start the process of
building a group identity. Here are some common strategies:
• Everyone introduces themselves and says what their previous
involvement with the subject has been.
• People start in pairs and say how they got their name. Each then
introduces their partner to another pair.
• People start in pairs and explore what they had to do in order to make
the class. Pairs then become 4's, 8's, 16's etc. until everybody is
• If there is space, Marching About is an interesting activity which allows
people to discover what they have in common. Everybody stands up
and the group divides according to categories like:
• with or without children
• blue-eyed or brown eyed or mixed
• first time attendees or regulars
• walked, driven or public transport
• nervous or not etc.
Whatever you do, remember that the purpose is to get people talking to
each other, relaxed, and involved. Don't finish by requiring everyone to sit
in silence listening to you for an hour or two as the exercise is wasted.
What you want is for the students to transfer their relaxed, involved state
towards discussing the topic of the class!
Adult Continuing Education & Training Tutors’ Manual Part 4.4
You will also have to:
Complete the register, noting each person and associating names with
faces. This will further help you memorise names and enable you to get
to know the members of your class.
Tell them that you intend to be available just before and just after each
session, in case anyone wishes to discuss any personal matters with you.
(See Information, Guidance and Counselling later on in this section)
Ask them what they expect from the course; encourage a response from
each individual, even if it is only to repeat or confirm what others have
said. (If the group are fairly confident and articulate, you may well find
that they give you quite detailed responses; other groups might be more
general in their responses, but that doesn't stop them from having specific
requirements which may well become clearer as they gain confidence.)
Write these up on the board or flip chart as they emerge; one way to
record this is to make a simple Mind Map:
To make new friends
Start and finish on time
Well organised classes
What I want
To be warm!
A comfortable room
To practise doing .....
To learn about ......
The first response is written up (eg 'To make new friends'), then the second
(eg 'A comfortable room'). The third ('Friendly classes') relates to the first
and is shown as such, etc.
Adult Continuing Education & Training Tutors’ Manual Part 4.5
Keep these records and check out from time to time that expectations are
being met (or, more likely, are evolving).
Next explain how you intend to operate - eg. you will respond to their
expectations and wants in introducing or developing knowledge, attitudes,
Describe how you will provide opportunities for discussion, for them to
identify topics, reflect on the changing needs and explore areas of
particular interest to them.
Move on to what you require of them - eg. to come on time, to let you
know if they can't come, and give you feedback about how they are
getting on (or not), to try and do any set assignments etc.
Provide them with a brief outline of your scheme of work for the term. This
will give them some idea of what they will be doing and shows that you are
organised and have thought through how the course will progress.
Finally, try and draw together some general ground rules for the smooth
running of the group, eg:
• to respect each other's opinions;
• to help each other learn; and
• to share experiences.
If these are written up they can be displayed and invoked when
This outline is not meant to be too prescriptive; you must use it as a
framework within which you can develop your own strategy for the first
session, according to your own personality and style. However, what is
important is to have some form of plan for the first and every subsequent
session. Such a plan is necessary for two reasons:
• It ensures that the session achieves its intended objectives.
• It will give you the confidence to try out different strategies if you have
thought them through and planned them properly.
If you read through the next section carefully you will see how you can
develop a simple but effective lesson plan, but if you have ensured that
you have covered the points above, you will be able to approach your first
session confident that the activities will ensure that:
• Students will overcome anxieties and strangeness.
• You will appear organised and confident.
• Essential information about how you will work and how you want
students want will be exchanged.
Adult Continuing Education & Training Tutors’ Manual Part 4.6
A lesson plan should not be a straitjacket, but should
provide you with a structure and direction for each session.
Just as Part Three emphasised the value of planning the
whole programme through your scheme of work, so you
should plan each session to ensure that the objectives you have set are
achieved. The starting point is the specific objectives and planned
learning activity for this session from your scheme of work:
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What are you going to do during the two hours of this session? A lesson
plan could look something like the one on the next page (which is followed
by a blank for you to copy and use, if you want). You will see that the
lesson plan isn't a script for the session; that would be a recipe for
disaster. It is a guide, to you help you cover all the key points using your
own words, and comprises five elements:
• Method and Activities
The timing is always going to be the hardest thing to work out when you
have little experience; as a general rule, most activities will take much
longer than you ever imagined. It is not uncommon for new tutors to put
together enough work for three sessions at first. But you are much better
advised to have too much than too little planned, as you can more easily
cut thing out and save them for later sessions but it's much harder to add
The content is a reminder to you of the key points alongside the methods
and activities you intend using. (The next section contains a summary of
the range of strategies available to you. Try to use a variety of teaching
methods and activities to reinforce their learning, so that your students
don't get bored by a repetitive experience.) There is also a reminder of
the resources you will need, and the plan finishes with activities for the
Adult Continuing Education & Training Tutors’ Manual Part 4.7
students to do plus details of any assignments which students could do
It is also worth noting that you should not try to plan all your sessions in
detail before you have started. Part five will explain why this is so.
Adult Continuing Education & Training Tutors’ Manual Part 4.8
By the end of the session students will
Be familiar with the colour spectrum
Recognise complementary colours
Develop a range of tones
Timing Content Methods and activities Resources
6.55 Put up objectives
7.00 Welcome and Go round the circle Check students have
reminder of paints
Review of session Verbal quiz List of questions
7.10 Colour spectrum Show spectrum Colour spectrum
Demo. spin Colour circle
Demo. prism Prism
7.25 Colour spectrum Students paint own
7.50 Complementary Demo. 3 pairs of Colour cards
colours comp. colours
Students paint own sets
of colour cards
Check for understanding
8.20 Application of Students search for Books of reproductions
learning examples of the use of
comp. colours in
8.35 Tonal variation Demo. range of tones Commercial paint cards
using paint cards
Students develop Demo how to add water
tonal range and create tones
Students end with Demo. how to paint own
tonal wash tonal wash
8.55 Review of session Check understanding
objectives and student examples
Remind of date and time
of next session
Assignment: Students look for examples in magazines, etc.
Adult Continuing Education & Training Tutors’ Manual Part 4.9
By the end of the session students will
Timing Content Methods and activities Resources
(Don't forget to copy this for future use)
Adult Continuing Education & Training Tutors’ Manual Part 4.10
Choosing Teaching Methods and Student Activities
METHODS & ACTIVITIES STRENGTHS TIPS
Presentation • Gives a framework • Handouts help
• Helps with knowledge • Keep it short
• Provides a model
Demonstration • Provides a model • Students need
• Good for skills feedback when
they try it
Case Study • Contextualises issues • Best if based on
• A perspective to real people or events
relate to. • Can you get a video
Handouts • Provides backup • Keep simple and clear.
(articles, your • Allows people to Give time to read them.
handouts, Give out towards end of
Notes etc.) concentrate and not • session
worry about note-taking Beware of copyright laws
Can raise issues. •
Worksheets/instruction • Allows people to • Make sure they
(for a task activity) work in pairs or are clear.
groups. • Check understanding
• Allows you to • Use OHP to
focus on those focus whole class
who need help most.
Discussions/panels etc. • Encourages • Need careful
• Encourages group monitoring
learning • Need clear purpose
• Warn groups a few
Brainstorming • Encourages lively • Get individuals to make
participation own list first
• Gets everybody • Whole group
• Avoids criticism killing contributes without
creativity critical comments.
• After 'storming'
put results into
Adult Continuing Education & Training Tutors’ Manual Part 4.11
Adult Continuing Education & Training Tutors’ Manual Part 4.12
Choosing Teaching Methods and Student Activities (Continued)
METHODS & ACTIVITIES STRENGTHS TIPS
Ice - breaker or • Helps strangers • Avoid embarrassment
warm-ups unfamiliarity. • See section on
• Motivates tired people. ice-breakers.
• Don't over do them
Problem solving • Provides a focus for • Make sure people have
many skills. all the information they
Can be 'real'.... Avoid tricks!
Simulation\role plays • Allows people to • Some people hate role
practise play so check out first
a role safely. Monitor feelings
• Helps simulate real Give people time to get
out of role
situation for practise or • Give them a formula for
Games • Encourages 'fun' and • Need to be matched
competitiveness to age and purpose
• People may
Quizzes • Good for testing • Make sure they are
knowledge not teaching relevant and based upon
it what has been covered
(Trivial pursuits, Can be lively and team-
questionnaires etc.) • Provide a change of
Film\video\tapes • Can bring in 'reality'. • Need preparation
• Can raise issues in a • Pause for comments,
vivid way discussion, etc.
Do not over-use, leads
Witness or guest • Taps into experience. • Need a careful brief for
speaker\demonstrator. guest and class.
• Can offer a role model. Make sure you have all
Adult Continuing Education & Training Tutors’ Manual Part 4.13
Your students will expect guidance, comments and even
criticism from you in their endeavour to learn and develop.
A key skill for you to develop therefore is the ability to give
and receive such feedback.
Here are some guidelines to help you when giving feedback:
• Ask whether your comments, etc. would be welcome.
• Check that the timing and place are right. Feedback should be
constructive but not necessarily overheard.
• Avoid judgements. Talk on the basis of what you have seen, heard or
• Focus on things that can actually be changed, such as behaviour,
language, techniques, performance, attitude, etc., but remember that
unlearning is more difficult than learning.
• Use simple, non-technical language and other, helpful, examples if
• Always check that you have been understood.
Feedback will damage good relationships when it judges or is based on
your own moral values, or is focused on things that cannot be changed, or
requires impossible standards to be met, or meets the needs of the
teacher rather than the needs of the student.
It is important that you can receive as well as give feedback. You
should be able to invite your students to give you feedback on the design
of the course, its content, the activities you are using and your teaching
style, to help you improve your performance as a tutor.
Here are the guidelines for receiving feedback:
• Listen carefully; absorb what is being said. Do not challenge or try to
• Ask the person to be direct, explicit.
• Focus the feedback on things you can do something about. Ask for
examples, models, and guidance on how something should be done.
• Ask for comment on things you yourself are unsure about.
• Check that you have understood what is being offered.
There may be occasions when you need to provide feedback even when it
will not be welcomed. For example, someone may be too dominant,
selfish, aggressive, sexist, racist etc. and their behaviour is disturbing the
group. On such occasions, you may need to confront someone. Don't put
off such a confrontation because it will be difficult; if you do the problem
may get worse, the other students will start to react negatively or stop
coming and you will be faced with a worse situation than you need to
Adult Continuing Education & Training Tutors’ Manual Part 4.14
Start early and 'nip problems in the bud'. Here is a seven-stage strategy
for dealing with such a conflict, which enables you to keep control without
being too confrontational.
Stage 1: Identify the particular behaviours that are causing you/the
class a problem. (Focus on the problem behaviour, not the
A student always dominates discussions and is dismissive of
Stage 2: State the effects the behaviour has on you/the class.
"We find it difficult to say anything or to hear a range of
perspectives on the topic."
Stage 3: It is important to say how the behaviour makes you feel. Use
examples. Others may support you with their feelings.
"When you cut across X just then, it made me feel
Stage 4: Ask for and listen to the other person's response. It is
important that they recognise there is a problem. Keep
discussing the issue until they say they do.
"We're you aware of the reaction you were generating?
What did you feel about your and everybody else's
Stage 5: Ask the other person what the group should do.
"How do you suggest we might resolve this problem?"
Stage 6: If you and the class are satisfied with the proposed action,
contract for it to be carried out.
"You will always wait until other people have spoken; in
return, we will ask your views."
Stage 7: If you and the class are not happy you should come up with
your own options.
"We think you should spend at least one whole session just
listening to others and not saying anything, so that you
become more aware of others' views."
Be prepared to take time to sort this type of conflict out. Half an hour
spent resolving a problem will more than likely benefit the entire remainder
of the class. By concentrating on observed things that can be changed, by
expressing your feelings, listening carefully to people's responses, and
Adult Continuing Education & Training Tutors’ Manual Part 4.15
then contracting for changes, you should be able to resolve most of your
problems within a constructive framework. You might find that some of
these guidelines are worth sharing with your students so that they too can
support each other's learning and grow through well intentioned,
constructive feedback. Try adding them to your ground rules for a
Adult Continuing Education & Training Tutors’ Manual Part 4.16
Information, Guidance and Counselling
A specialist service may exist on the site where you are
teaching, offering information about different learning
opportunities, guidance on which courses may be the most
appropriate as a next stage, and counselling about
personal difficulties. If such a service isn't available you might find it
useful to identify the location and opening times of the nearest service for
your students, because there will be occasions when students will
approach you with "issues" or "problems" or "personal matters" like the
• They've forgotten their money and need a loan to buy materials.
• They are newly separated and very lonely.
• They must arrive late and leave early because of the distance.
• They have fallen in love with you.
Before you respond, consider the following questions:
• Are you expected to deal with this kind of issue in your role as a
• Do you have the skills, experience or resources to respond
• Do you have the time to deal with it / them?
If the answers are "yes", then find somewhere or time convenient to you
both, but if the answers are "no", can you refer them to another source of
help? Find out what is available from your ACET manager, before you
find you need to refer a student for help. This could include:
• The Educational Guidance Service
• The Careers Service
• The Citizen's Advice Bureau
• A Student Counsellor
• Social Services
• The Benefits Agency
• The Samaritans
• A Training Access Point or a Learning Centre
• The Library Service
(If Educational Counselling is an area of skills you wish to develop further
you might want to consult your ACET manager for information about
Finally, it is worth emphasising that most part-time tutors are enthusiasts,
and your enthusiasm will help you through the natural anxieties about
teaching. People can only learn for themselves - your job will be to help
them learn, by organising their learning opportunities. Teaching is always
about learning, and about good relationships, which are probably the main
reasons why teachers get so much satisfaction from good sessions. But
more about that in the next section. Good luck with your first class, or