Level 1 Infusion
Infusing a workforce orientation into the teaching of academic content and skills is a school-work connection that ANY adult educator can make. It doesn�t require development of specialized courses or any special business/community links. Though this is what any ABE/GED (Adult Basic Education/General Educational Development) teacher can do, it is important to prepare teachers to do this. They need to become conscious of the possible applications to workplace experiences they can make for a classroom activity or learning strategy. A crucial aspect of each activity or strategy is teacher/student discussion of practical workplace applications. If possible, teachers should consider how technology might be incorporated into the learning activity. For example, in a social studies lesson about women�s suffrage, the teacher can help students learn content and at the same time practice various communication skills within an authentic, work-based learning situation. As a culminating activity to this historical topic, adult learners might examine the issue of equal pay for equal work and role play workers bringing this issue to the attention of their employer (Hampson, Paul, & Patrick-Williams, 1999). To incorporate a technology tie, students could use the Internet to locate employment statistics to support the importance of the issue of equal pay for equal work.
There are many additional activitiesthat could appropriately be a part of a general ABE or GED program. The activities have been divided into categories of Reading, Writing, Math, Problem Solving and Group Dynamics, and Self-Awareness and Self-Evaluation. Although an activity has been listed under only one category, many could cross categories.
Teachers might also consider using a text that provides work information to teach literacy skills. As word recognition and comprehension skills are taught, workplace issues can be discussed. One possible text is The Challenges of Literacy and Employment (Prospects Literacy Association, 1995). This book documents the challenges of two learners, Darren and Angele, who are employed as sorters at the Edmonton Recycling Society and who must balance their employment responsibilities with their studies at an adult literacy program. This text, a part of the National Adult Literacy Database (NALD) Literacy Collection, has facilitator notes that provide a variety of before, during, and after reading activities with full descriptions of how to use each with the text.
Teachers who are teaching general ABE/GED courses may want to place their courses within the context of job-training for a company. This was done with a JTPA program where the participants were enrolled in a reading-writing course (Thistlethwaite, 1989). In effect, the entire course was a role-play. Instructors referred to the participants as employees who were enrolled in a training session to update their literacy skills. The instructors were referred to as supervisors. General objectives for the course were presented to the participants in terms of training program objectives: (a) setting weekly and long-term goals; (b)making effective choices (e.g., choosing activities, choosing books to read, prioritizing what is most important to complete); (c) being an effective group member (e.g., study group, strategy group, project group) and managing conflict; (d) communicating effectively (e.g., listening effectively, following and giving directions, presenting convincing arguments); (e) being self-reliant (e.g., recording answers to questions they asked about assignments or activities so they won�t have to be re-asked, organizing course information so that it is readily accessible); and (f) self-evaluating (e.g., considering own input in group efforts, considering growth). Specific literacy activities were designed for the entire group, for small groups, and for individuals.
Classroom expectations were stated in terms of Company Policies regarding the following: (a) attendance (new employees not yet having earned vacation days); (b) punctuality; (c) work materials (needing to have at their fingertips the materials they need to work effectively); (d) respect (for employers and for fellow employees but not to be confused with blindly doing all one is told to do); (e) active participation; (f) efficiency (not being disruptive); (g) not eating or drinking on the job; and (h) neatness and cleanliness. A Company Policies flyer was given to each employee/participant.