Impact of Strengthening Literacy Practices on CALP staff
Rebecca Still, Community Learning Network
“Being part of this project has been unbelievably helpful to me in how I will support literacy learners in the future. I feel that it has been the best training I have ever taken part of because it was so extensive, and I was really able to pull apart and understand the topics covered.”
This quote is from a participant in the first Strengthening Literacy Practices training which was offered in 2019 as an eight-month training with a small group of participants.
Strengthening Literacy Practices is an opportunity for CALP staff to build their knowledge and skills in delivering adult literacy programming, and increase their capacity to better serve adult literacy learners.
Now in it’s fourth year, Strengthening Literacy Practices (SLP) continues to impact participants in their work with adult literacy learners through increased knowledge, changes in perceptions & practice, and greater confidence.
“Having and increasing my knowledge in these areas helps me develop into the type of coordinator I would like to be. It builds the base of information that can back me up for the reasons I do things the way I do, and encourages me to look at things in new ways and leads me to potentially do things even different than I had even thought I would.”
Participants shared how the assignments and learning throughout the training increased their understanding of how to:
- be more learner-centred
- use authentic materials
- support different learner needs and reading skill development
- teach reading skills
- learn the terminology for what they were already doing
Participants shared their greatest increase in knowledge was around assessments and how to use the resources already on their shelves. Many of them had the Readforward and Writeforward resources but were unsure how to use them. As they learned how to use the assessment tools, their confidence to use them in their practice increased.
Some participants passed along their knowledge to others in their organization, such as other staff, volunteers and tutors. As one participant noted, “I am sharing my ‘aha’ moments with my team”.
Change in Perception & Practice
“My understanding of how literacy can be understood and defined has greatly increased since doing this reading and chatting with the other cohort members. I feel like my mind has been opened to understand literacy from different angles and much more broadly as well.”
Participants talked about gaining a broader sense of what literacy means and recognizing that learners use literacy in different ways in their lives. Learning about different approaches made them realize that their "expectations of literacy may be very different from learner’s." For some participants, the concepts they were learning changed their beliefs and they started to see literacy with "fresh eyes."
With these fresh eyes, they began to see learners differently. One participant noted that the more she got to know a learner, the more her biases disappeared and she saw them in a new light. Others realized the need to create a safe space and an awareness of challenges learners might face. They became more open to hearing the difficult stories that learners shared and the need to listen and be mindful. They learned about survival brain and how it impacts learning. One participant noted “learners are showing up but unable to get into the flow of learning because of trauma or stresses in their lives…”Another one noted, “I feel like it is a real stepping stone to greater learning and growth. There is relationship building happening and that needs to happen before any further learning.”
Often the change in perceptions led to changes in practice. “As a result of this learning experience, I now see the necessity for me to slow down the intake process, take time to get to know the whole person…” Other participants noted changes they were making around assessment and to "see" things from a learner’s perspective. A number of participants noted changes in working with learners as they tried out new approaches and strategies; and experienced success in supporting the learner. “I tried the language experience approach, and it has been working beautifully with her.”
"I did not realize that what I was doing with these learners was literacy instruction. I thought of myself as a coordinator, in charge of managing my tutor pairs and dreaming up programming and then helping learners with their resumes on the side. Thank you for this prompt as it has changed how I see myself and has given me some confidence to perhaps lead more explicit literacy learning opportunities."
Participants talked about how the many concepts and resources they looked at gave them confidence to do their work. Many participants shared how their confidence improved in using resources, building relationships with adult literacy learners and even feeling more confident in knowing what to do when an adult literacy learner walked through their door.
Participants noted that before SLP they didn’t see themselves as a literacy practitioner, but after the training they felt confident in calling themselves a literacy practitioner. Some of that confidence came as a result of being part of a small group and the support and connections they made within.
If you would like to feel more confident in your role with adult literacy learners, then you may be interested in joining Strengthening Literacy Practices in the coming 2023-2024 year.
CLN is looking for CALP staff, facilitators or instructors who would like to be part of Strengthening Literacy Practices in 2023-2024. Click here for more information and to submit an Expression of Interest.
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