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Adult Learning and Coaching

Adult Learning and Coaching

Author: Trisha Fyfe

In this lesson, you will examine some tips for working with adult learners.

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Video Transcription

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Welcome, I'm Tricia Fyfe. And in today's video lesson I will explore the topic of adult learning and coaching. As we learn about this topic, we will work towards several learning objectives. And together we'll use the following two questions to guide our learning in this video lesson. First, how do adults learn best? And second, why is this important for us to understand as teachers?

Let's start by talking about a very influential figure to adult learning, Malcolm Knowles. Not only did he spend a great deal of time and energy focusing on the study of adult learning, andragogy, but he emphasized the idea that teaching adults may be different than teaching K through 12 students. Knowles developed five principles of adult learning that we can apply to coaching settings. As you go, you should you keep these in mind when you're working with teachers. Let's go through these steps one by one.

First, we'll start with principle number one, adults learn best when they understand rationale for learning. A teacher should explain why a strategy is desired when teaching a new instructional strategy. Principle number two is the idea that adults should have the freedom to learn in a way that's best for them. Adult learners have various needs as learners, just as the students in a K through 12 setting. This is something that's best discussed at the beginning of a coaching-teaching relationship, so that the coach can learn the teacher's learning style. This can help a coach tailor suggestions and feedback to that teacher's particular learning style.

Principle number three is the idea that adults should experience what they are learning. Most coaches do this naturally, as the role of coach is one that implies this will happen. Coaches coach an individual through an action. Engaging learning experiences allow the teacher to collaboratively plan with the coach. This enables the coach to demonstrate desired learning or skills, model and co teach with the teacher. While teaching a new instructional strategy, coaches might have the teacher try it out before teaching it to students, so that they can practice and work out any flaws.

The fourth principle is that adults can self-determine when they are ready to learn. The very best coaching partnerships begin in authentic context. Maybe a teacher approaches a coach after a specific training asking for help implementing that newly trained skill in the classroom. This relationship is authentic and effective. It works so much better than those relationships that are forced, for example when a coach and teacher are partnering together for a predetermined reason by an administrator. As teachers, we should have opportunities to seek out learning on our own. In instructional coaching this is considered a best practice.

The last principle of Malcolm Knowles is the idea that adults learn best when it's a positive experience. A coach has many different roles and responsibilities, and one of these is to support the teacher. As coaches, when we provide a positive, encouraging experience for teachers, these teachers will most likely continue to seek out our help and coaching opportunities. The more teachers use the teacher-instructional coach partnership, the better the positive effects on classroom instruction and enhanced student learning are.

Let's talk about what we learned today. We looked at the following two questions, how do adults learn best? And why is this important to understand as teachers? Today we talked about Malcolm Knowles. This leader in the study of adult learning was very influential to the teaching world. We touched on five different principles of adult learning, and applied these five principles to the role of instructional coach.

Now that you're more familiar with these ideas let's reflect. Which of these ideas stood out to you as being the most important to understand as far as how adults learn? Do you relate to any of these ideas in your own learning needs? Thanks for joining me today, and discussing the lesson adult learning and coaching. I hope you found value in this video lesson. And I hope you're able to apply these ideas to your own teaching and coaching relationships.

To dive a little deeper, and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out the additional resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material.

Notes on “Adult Learning and Coaching”


(00:00- 00:25) Introduction/Objectives

(00:26- 00:56) Teaching and Coaching Adults

(00:57- 01:09) Malcolm Knowles: Principle #1

(01:10- 01:35) Malcolm Knowles: Principle #2

(01:36- 02:10) Malcolm Knowles: Principle #3

(02:11- 02:50) Malcolm Knowles: Principle #4

(02:51- 03:22) Malcolm Knowles: Principle #5

(03:23- 03:44) Recap

(03:45- 04:27) Reflection

Additional Resources

Knowles’ Andragogy

This webpage provides a clear and concise overview of Knowles' Adult Learning Theory.

How to Incorporate Principles of Adult Learning into Training

This blog article offers practical advice that can be applied to developing professional development and training activities for teachers.