Staffing the Small Adult School
Staffing remains one of the greatest challenges in running a small adult school. This task need not be daunting if administrators keep in mind the differences between the K-12 and adult school criteria for staffing.
Small adult schools are not required to have a full-time administrator, and most small school administrators are responsible for several different programs within their districts. Education Code Section 44860 states that schools fewer than six certified employees may be managed by an individual who does not hold an administrative credential, for example, a teacher or other staff member who is working towards an administrative credential. Schools with an average daily attendance, or ADA, of 100 to 199 require a half-time administrator, and schools with an ADA of 200 or more require a full-time administrator or equivalent.
Teacher credentialing requirements are the same for all Adult Education classes. Education Code numbers are cited in parentheses. For more information about teacher credentialing, visit the Web site for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC). http://www.ctc.ca.gov
All teachers for ADA-based classes must be credentialed. Those who teach in the diploma programs or who teach specific electives must hold a multiple- or single-subject credential indicating they are qualified to teach preschool through adult students (EC 44865).
However, a teacher may also qualify for an Adult Designated Subjects Credential if he/she holds a Bachelor's degree or higher, has passed the CBEST, and has 20 semester units or 10 upper division units in the subject to be taught.
Teachers for vocational programs must have a high school diploma, five years’ experience in the courses they are teaching, and a letter of support from a current or former supervisor verifying this experience. They also must be enrolled in personalized in-service training as approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to qualify for a Vocational Designated Subjects Teaching Credential (EC 44260, Title 5 § 80034(h),CC 698A 8/03 http://www.ctc.ca.gov et seq)
Teachers do not need to be credentialed and do not need to file with the county to teach a class. Check with your personnel department for placing these teachers on the payroll (EC52506).
Most small adult school programs offer evening classes and hire part-time teachers to staff them.
Recruiting teachers can be a challenge, and teacher turnover rate can be high because of the part-time nature of the job. Perhaps the best method of teacher recruitment is to tap teachers currently employed by the district.
Some ways to attract qualified teaching staff include:
- Distributing recruitment flyers to district personnel. Teachers are often interested in working for hourly pay in adult education. Some of those staff members may also be interested in teaching fee-based classes. Advantages to hiring teachers already employed by the district are (1) they are cleared to teach in the district; (2) their adult education teaching schedules usually do not conflict with day assignments; and (3) they are familiar with community interests.
- Post newspaper ads and announcements to professional association newsletters and Web sites.
- Distribute information about employment opportunities to local community college(s) where many people are part-time employees.
- Contact the Retired Teachers Association and the California State Employees Association in the region.
- Send a flyer to local businesses, churches, Chambers of Commerce, and community agencies. This is especially useful in identifying vocational and fee-based course ideas and/or teachers.
Most small schools use classrooms in local elementary or high schools.
The district typically provides custodial, personnel, business, and other services based on the amount and type of direct and/or indirect funding available to the district through adult education (EC 52616.4).
It is critical for adult school administrators to have at least part-time clerical assistance.
One role of Adult Education is to help students who withdrew from school in the past to “drop back in” and to succeed in accomplishing their learning goals. Many lead lives that may prevent them from attending school regularly. It is important to reassure these students that Adult Education is designed to help them achieve their academic and vocational goals.
Teaching and working with adults is different from teaching children. New teachers and administrators, particularly those who have spent years in a K-12 environment, may not readily recognize or appreciate these differences. For example, adult learners are volunteer learners who attend adult education because they want to, often to meet specific life goals. If they do not believe that their adult education classes are helping them meet these goals, they may “vote with their feet,” i.e., stop attending.
Children often defer applying to real life the concepts and skills learned in school, but adult learners often apply immediately that which they have learned in class. For this reason, it is important that instruction for adults have applicability to everyday life. Also, by virtue of having lived longer than children and therefore having many more life experiences than children, adult learners are a rich reservoir for the learning environment. Malcolm Knowles (1970) described these characteristics of adult learners in The Modern Practice of Adult Education.
To enrich instruction and make it meaningful to adult learners, teachers and administrators need to build instruction around the life, family, and work experiences of adult learners. Adult education teachers and administrators will benefit from professional development that addresses adult learning theory and teaching methodologies that are successful with adult learners. Staff development opportunities abound at no or minimal cost, through state leadership projects (CALPRO, OTAN, CASAS, CDLP) and through networking. Asking an administrator or teacher from an established adult school to facilitate discussions or provide workshops for your staff is one way to provide professional development.
All staff should be trained in how to implement adult education accountability requirements. It is essential that staff understand how to interpret assessment scores and test results, including TOPSpro-generated reports, and be able to incorporate the data into learner-centered lessons—a pivotal role of adult education programs. Teachers need to learn to manage multi-level English as a Second Language (ESL) and Adult Basic Education (ABE) classes, to integrate technology into instruction, to help students set realistic goals, and to design lesson plans to meet those goals.
The following resources are some ways to support professional development activities on a limited budget:
- OTAN offers teacher lesson plans and teacher “chat rooms” on its Web site at http://www.otan.us
- CALPRO offers workshops, online courses, and other professional development activities. For a list of available workshops, visit the CALPRO Web site: http://www.calpro-online.org/training.asp. Ask your administrator about scheduling a CALPRO workshop at your site. CALPRO offers several of these workshops as online courses. Visit the Online courses Web page at http://www.calpro-online.org/onlineCourses.asp for details. In addition, CALPRO's Web site provides numerous research-based publications. Look in the Resources Web page at http://www.calpro-online.org/pubs.asp to view the available publications.
- CASAS continually develops new methods for evaluating and using data related to adult learning in the classroom and the workplace and offers workshops and materials on a regional basis throughout the year. Topics include CASAS Implementation, California Accountability, and TOPSpro. Register online for regional workshops by visiting http://www.casas.org. CASAS also hosts an annual National Summer Institute, which provides an opportunity to network and collaborate with other national, state, and local adult education providers. The Institute hosts meetings and workshops that address innovations, trends, and policies related to youth and adult learner assessment, curriculum, data management, and program evaluation. Visit http://www.casas.org for more details.
- Collaborate with distance learning programs and educators about online testing, distance learning knowledge base, and new instructional delivery methods. Visit http://www.cdlponline.org for more details.
- Discuss having district trainers work with the staff on specific needs .
- Use supplemental grant dollars to send staff to appropriate local, regional, and state workshops and conferences.
- Collaborate with other adult schools, community based organizations, or community colleges in the area to provide joint professional growth opportunities.
- Set up mentoring between experienced and new staff members. Contact CALPRO for information about its mentor training program.
The administrator of the small adult school should ensure that teachers
- Have the flexibility to work during hours that fit personal schedules;
- Receive the material, technical, and emotional support they need to be successful with their assignments;
- Have a pay schedule that is competitive with other local adult schools or community-based organizations;
- Are empowered to make suggestions for enhancing the quality of instructional programs and working with colleagues to build viable school programs; and
- Are part of a site-based team.