Effective Instructors

Our research group had many discussions about the term, "effective instructor." Other people who heard about our research were keen to hear more about how we could identify "effective." Some were also hoping for a list of attributes and behaviours that would translate into a hypothetical job posting for future ABE/Literacy positions. That did not happen. Instead, our group struggled to agree on a common definition. We decided that we are not referring to every instructor and every way of being effective. Our codes and subsequently our themes come from the group we interviewed and ourselves. We know there are other ways being effective as an ABE/Literacy instructor. We selected instructors whom we gauged were reflective in their practice and had certain characteristics in common. We expected that these instructors had already learned to recognize when they were being effective or not, and had learned how to manage the classroom for the benefit of students and the learning. We also understood the diverse components of good practice and knew that the combination of these components would vary with different instructors. We asked the instructors we interviewed how they saw themselves as effective. We asked ourselves too. We discussed the responses at our meetings, on conference calls, in our online discussions, and, finally, in our writing. We emerged with themes or characteristics that we present to you. This is as close as we could get to a definition. ABE/Literacy instruction is a complex world.

Finding Your Way Around This Book

This research has been a collaborative effort over the last two years, but the writing of the chapters was the place where we worked more independently with themes that had emerged from the interviews. The four chapters that follow are the result of our way of organizing the data into themes. A brief biography of the author(s) precedes each chapter. The chapters have their own particular style. Each one is distinctive, the result of the strong individual character of the writer(s), tempered by the influence of the research group and the challenge of representing the voices of the interviewees.

When referring to the authors of this book, in passing, we use first names only. We refer to interviewees and research friends by first and last names, unless a second reference comes immediately after the first, and the reference is clear.