Posted:11 March 2020
Author: Rebecca Still, Community Learning Network
Found in: Tutors and Volunteers
There were times when, as a volunteer tutor, or as an adult and family literacy program coordinator, my learner did not show up for our session. I always felt disappointed and at times discouraged. Sometimes this was because I had spent time preparing for the session and was excited to work with the learner. Other times, I wondered what I had done wrong or if I wasn’t making the sessions relevant and interesting. Often I would ask myself what I could change. I would start to think the learner wasn’t motivated or interested in coming any more. Very seldom did I consider there might be other reasons.
You might have at some point in time signed up for a course or learning opportunity where you had to attend a number of sessions. Did you ever miss a session because someone got sick, you had issues with your vehicle, or something came up that bumped your ability to attend? There might even have been a time when you missed the learning opportunity because you had such a crazy day you completely forgot about it!
I know this has happened to me. It wasn’t because I wasn’t interested and didn’t want to attend but, I missed the learning opportunity because life got in the way.
Why is it I accept the reasons why I didn’t attend but, I have a hard time applying it to my learners? My first thought should be I hope everything is okay with my learner. My next thought might be what can I do about it?
In John P. Comings research Persistence: Helping Adult Education Students Reach Their Goals, learners identified three types of forces that made it difficult for them to participate: life demands, relationships and poor self-determination. Comings listed various factors in each type as follows:
With so many factors getting in the way of attending a learning opportunity we ought to applaud and celebrate when our learners do show up!
Here are some ideas I am starting to practice of what to do when a learner doesn’t show up:
When we see our learners as people and we let them know we care about them, we can better respond to their needs. The next time your learner misses a session, reach out to them, show you care and invite them back. Reaching out to them might make all the difference in their life.
I invite you to share your stories and experiences of reaching out to your learners.
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Comings, John P. Persistence: Helping Adult Education Students Reach Their Goals. 2007 http://www.ncsall.net/fileadmin/resources/ann_rev/comings-02.pdf