Education is only one of the adult learners’ responsibilities. They have families, jobs, and financial obligations that require their attention. Most students will place a high priority on their education, but it can’t always be the highest. Sometimes other things in their life must come first. We must be educators who recognize this and accommodate learner needs as much as possible and support students toward success.
There are a few general strategies for respecting our adult learners’ responsibilities to help you achieve a balance between consistent expectations and flexibility.
Be flexible.Policies, rules, and deadlines are important in maintaining control of your classroom, but flexibility will help students succeed. Provide students with options. Recognize they have outside responsibilities that can interfere with their education and be as empathetic and flexible as you can.
Limit the amount of homework given. Yes, students have a responsibility to prepare for class. It is important that they are studying and reviewing chapters before attending theory class. However, it is important to be mindful of students’ time and other responsibilities. Is what you’re assigning capable of being done during normal school hours? With students attending school 6 hours a day or more, there should not be much need for homework assignments. Allowing students to take control over their education by having optional assignments may be a good option for educators who would still like to give some outside homework.
Make sure assignments are meaningful. Give assignments that are directly related to course objectives and to students’ goals. Students will appreciate activities that are goal directed, support learning, and respect their limited time resources. It is more likely that they will complete these types of assignments to their highest potential than assignments that don’t offer much value to their education.
Create a schedule. Share your schedule and daily agendas with students so they know what to expect each day. If they are aware of upcoming chapters, tests and other assignments, they will be able to better manage their time over the term. When they know they are moving into a new subject, they can plan extra time to study and prepare for the new topic. It is important that we keep in mind they are adults and they have outside responsibilities. When at all possible try to avoid too much homework, and use agendas and schedules to fill their time wisely while in school. Teach students to use downtime student salon activity as a time to study and complete assignments.