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LiteracyExpress Canadian Literacy and Learning Network

Spring 2012

sharing our knowledge

the practitioners’ issue

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LiteracyExpress Spring 2012

neWs cLLn

in this issue: cLLn news editor’s note

Meet Katy Kydd Wright

neW cLLn research project

Focus: practitioners 4 occupationaL task proFiLes 4 course revieW/pd 4 oLes resources 4 onLine Forum For practitioners 4 upcoming conFerences

Katy Kydd Wright started at the end of January as CLLN’s new Manager of Partnerships and Research. Katy comes to CLLN from RESULTS Canada where she, as Director of Campaigns, worked regularly on developing top-line messaging, creating advocacy strategies and finding the key entry points for issues as broad as tuberculosis care and education for all. While Katy’s work has primarily been in the international development and political fields, one of Katy’s first passions was education. Katy spent time working for the Canadian International Development Agency developing and delivering an adult education English as a second language program (ESL) in Sri Lanka, taught ESL at Cité Collgiale in Ottawa and managed a large 2001 research project on the role of information and communications technology in international education. Katy is respected for her experience in creating strong partnerships to bring diverse individuals and groups together for a common purpose. She is strategic and imaginative in finding ways to achieve common goals. Katy has always brought a social justice lens to the work she does and is passionate about increasing people’s participation, knowledge and access to programs, services, and ideas that can have a real impact in their lives.

this newsletter is published by

Canadian Literacy and Learning Network 342A Elgin Street Ottawa, ON K2P 1M6

CLLN is core funded by the Office for Literacy and Essential Skills


note editor’s One of the re-occurring themes of stories told throughout Canadian Adult Learners’ Week, is that of learners’ relationships with their instructors. While every learner acknowledges their teachers’ ability to transfer foundational skills, it is the hand they lend, the patience and compassion they show, the serious commitment to adult learners embedded in their approach to the work they do day after day, year after year, that so often has made all the difference. Adult Learners’ week is really also Adult Literacy Practitioners’ Week, I think! As we were preparing to pull together this issue of LiteracyExpress, checking out PD opportunities, looking for interesting resources, Chris Harwood was conducting her interviews with practitioners across the country for a snapshot of occupational task profiles. Her daily updates about what

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she heard from people she talked to, confirmed one assumption we had entertained for a while: that adult educators feel that there is a definite need to provide a communication platform for practitioners, so we set one up. (A big ank You goes to AlphaPlus for support and hosting of CLLN’s parctioners’ online forum). Just as I am about to upload this issue to cyberspace, I find out that Community Literacy of Ontario has made their "Digital Discoveries: Guide to Online Learning with Adult Literacy Learners" available as an eBook - making a rather nice segway for me from our last issue on digital literacy to this one. I really hope you enjoy the read - you’ll find out, there’s lots going on. Annette Hegel

LiteracyExpress Spring 2012

2012/13 research project cLLn enhancing our Knowledge of the literacy and essential Skills Workforce: A profile of l/eS Practitioners We are truly excited to announce that Clln has received funding from the Office of literacy and essential Skills (OleS) to conduct an in-depth labour market survey of the literacy and essential Skills (l/eS) workforce. By conducting this research we are responding to a clearly identified lack of reliable information related to l/eS practitioners that could be filled by a large-scale survey of the profession. Objectives Starting this April, we are embarking on a 17 month project to create a credible, descriptive study of practitioners in the L/ES field. rough a large-scale survey of practitioners, we will create an understanding of the over-arching human resource issues of L/ES practitioners that may affect Canada’s capacity to achieve better L/ES results for Canadians. We will collect data through a Pan-Canadian survey to create a national picture of practitioners who work in a variety of capacities in the L/ES field. Specifically, we will examine: 4 the employment status of practitioners

In addition, we will be able to compile a demographic snapshot of L/ES practitioners, the type of training and education they have received in the past, as well as what the workforce sees as current professional development opportunities.

of the study:

Provide a snapshot of who l/eS providers are

is study will capture knowledge about who adult L/ES practitioners really are. It will help inform the field at large, as well as policy makers at the national, provincial and territorial levels.

Understand how and where l/eS services are delivered

We are looking forward to working with a strong Advisory Committee, that will be comprised of leaders in the L/ES field, human resources sector and workplace organizations.

Create a better understanding of the implications, considerations, trends and human resource needs of the l/eS workforce

We will provide updates over the course of the study, and be sharing the results with L/ES practitioners, learners and others involved in the field of literacy and essential skills.

e study will employ a large-scale survey to gather information and expects to have results available in August of 2013.

4 the size and types of organizations employ L/ES practitioners 4 the geographical location of L/ES practitioners and 4 the types of L/ES programs being delivered

For regular updates on progress visit or contact Clln’s Manager of Partnerships and Research Katy Kydd Wright at .

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LiteracyExpress Spring 2012

practitionersa research

A Snapshot of Occupational task Profiles: e Canadian literacy and essential Skills Workforce Chris Harwood CLLN has undertaken this project to gain a clear picture of the current competencies held by the Literacy and Essential Skills (L/ES) workforce through key informant interviews and document reviews of related research in Canada and internationally. e result will be a snapshot of current competencies.

most blunders by educators were as a result of educators being scared or failing to discuss, with empathy and sensitivity, the issues that are important in the lives of the participants. Blunders were much less likely to relate to content in courses being offered.


Educators need the skills to be able tailor programs to the needs of participants. Some programs prepare learners for the workforce and are being run along business lines, with the educator modelling an employer and the classroom being the workplace. Other programs support participants in acquiring the skills needed to volunteer in their communities. Programs that are in store fronts or community centres attract more Aboriginal participants than those that are offered in a college campus. ere is constant evaluation of external factors influencing who comes to programs and this results in innovation to programming.

Competencies of L/ES educators are the knowledge, skills, abilities, mindsets (tangible/intangible) and behaviours (savoir, savoir-faire, and savoir-être) that lead to learners buying-in to an L/ES program, learning, making progress and meeting their goals. CLLN’s project will enhance the perception and understanding of the important role of the L/ES workforce. It will give us an understanding of current skills and knowledge. It should help us identify needs and gaps. Key Informant Interviews ere is no doubt that the programs delivered by the L/ES workforce are as diverse as the backgrounds of the people who deliver them. Key informant interviews are already revealing some important information. No matter where they work, L/ES educators embrace lifelong learning and bring a wide range of competencies to their programs. Educators emphasize the importance of being knowledgeable about adult learning and working with groups. Some respondents expressed the importance of enabling learners to articulate what they are thinking and express it appropriately to their audience, others talked about the importance of learners understanding how they learn. L/ES educators say they need to be knowledgeable about community resources and able to teach participants how to find out about local resources for themselves. It was felt that


It was common to hear respondents talk about the importance of understanding affective behaviour so that participants understand its effects in the classroom and workplace and as a result develop appropriate behaviours. Asking good questions and active listening skills featured strongly in the list of competencies. Educators stressed the importance of really listening to what participants are telling them – the overt and the hidden messages. All the educators interviewed are knowledgeable about essential skills and deliver programs that include improving the essential skills of participants. e core essential skills of reading, writing, document use and numeracy are always taught but thinking skills were also considered to be extremely important, along with working together. A problem-solving approach to learning is common to learning in many of the programs.

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LiteracyExpress Spring 2012

After a lifetime of teaching experience, I have taught at every level, I have to say that working in a Literacy and Essential Skills program is certainly the most challenging and difficult teaching I have ever done. It is so important to have an understanding of many different things: situations and emotional issues that students are experiencing, accepting students’ reality and being supportive and knowing what services are available in the community, knowing how to motivate and encourage students, being aware of the factors that affect learning and building trust so that learners can learn and recognize their own learning styles and the progress they are making.

Individualized goal setting and delivery is a key competency of L/ES educators. Programs are created to meet the needs of participants. Most educators adapt and create activities. When used, curricula are often tweaked to meet the individual needs of learners. Many educators felt that being able to collect or create their own resources was better than having a curriculum. It soon became very apparent that the savoir-être component of the competencies was extremely important to the respondents. ey were keen to discuss their characteristics, professional disposition and subject matter expertise. It was evident that all the respondents have a good knowledge of teaching strategies and techniques and a comprehensive knowledge of the subject matter required for participants to meet their goals. Interviewees talked about the importance of needing attributes that cannot be taught. ey mentioned the importance of attitude and the need for educators in L/ES to have humanity, selfawareness, empathy and tolerance. Without these attributes it is unlikely the person would be an effective L/ES educator, either in the community or the workplace.

Respondents talked about mentoring and the need to consider different ways to implement it, either formally or informally. is is particularly important for new instructors entering the field. e idea of having a group of “master teachers” as mentors was discussed. Observations of experienced educators are considered to be an important component of mentorship. e need to provide different PD for new and experienced educators was discussed as well as the need for lengthier, in depth PD with an opportunity to implement what has been learned and then report back on the experience. One thing that is clear is the need to carefully select new educators and provide professional development for existing Glenda Oldham L/ES educators. Selkirk Adult Learning Workplace L/ES educators made the point that it is better to come into their field with experience Program of working in L/ES in colleges, school boards or Brandon, Manitoba the community. e requirements for workplace educators are broader. A workplace educator needs to be able to complete organizational needs assessments, identify what needs to be done and create programs based on the gaps identified.

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ey need to be able to work with the different needs of the key players – bosses, supervisors, labour and learners. ey need to be able to meet with employees and draw them into their programs. Not all L/ES educators make a successful transition from the community to the workplace because of the lack of structure and the power shift from campus is hard for many. Employers know they are not experts in training and want to hire an expert. The Report e report will detail the duties that are commonly undertaken by L/ES staff and the responsibilities they have to the participants in their programs. For the purposes of this study, the term educator has been used to encompass people within the workforce with titles of instructor, practitioner, facilitator or other titles that refer to teaching literacy and/or Essential Skills. It will examine the competencies L/ES educators need to implement L/ES programs. CLLN will use the information to develop a response to the findings of the snapshot of task profiles. For example, this could lead to the development of occupational standards and the development of a NOC profiles for the L/ES workforce. CLLN can also use the report to create sample job descriptions and a bank of screening questions that could be used during interviews with people entering the L/ES workforce. CLLN can use the snapshot to examine current competencies and those needed for new staff in order to lay a foundation from which to explore the topic of professionalism It will be an appropriate time to address strategies to prepare new entrants to the field and examine professional development opportunities for current staff. Information from this project will feed into the CLLN labour market survey of Literacy and Essential Skills (LES) practitioners. e snapshot will raise awareness of the important role of the L/ES workforce so that educators can be recognized for the skills they have and the impact they can have on Canada’s economic competitiveness. A Snapshot of Occupational Task Profiles: e Canadian Literacy and Essential Skills Workforce will be available by the end of April 2012, download it at:


LiteracyExpress Spring 2012

course revieW

practitioner pda

My YWCA life Skills Coach Certificate nancy Friday I just completed the YWCA life Skills Coach – Phase 1 training in toronto. I had noted this training with interest for the past 15 years and finally this year I took a week of vacation and began my life skills coach journey. As a 25 year career adult literacy educator this training is an excellent fit. I should have taken it years ago! e YWCA Life Skills Coach Certificate training programs are rooted in the principles and philosophy of the Saskatchewan NewStart model of adult education and utilize the lesson plan as a template for designing experiential workshops that engage learners cognitively, physically and affectively. My training was 5 days intensive 9am-5pm. We started as 12 and ended as 11 trainees. Days 1-2 focused on learning the methodology in the large group, in pairs, and groups of 3. Days 3-5 saw us in groups of three either developing and delivering a 2 hour lesson or participating in a lesson delivered by our peers on one of four topics: values, self esteem, assertiveness, and problem-solving. I was in the assertiveness group. And all our groups did an amazing job! So just imagine – the methodology was so clear and presented in enough ways experientially that four groups of people who didn’t know each other at the start were able after basically 7 hours of allocated group planning time to deliver a lesson following the methodology and engaging our peer trainees. And we did that while going through the group process phases: forming, norming, storming and performing. at’s a great investment of time with a workable and practical return! On day 1 of the training I learned the difference between Life Skills and Living Skills – I always thought they referred to the same thing! e Participant Workbook we received is so well written using clear language and design principles that I can’t even para-phrase pages 5-6. I present you with copyrighted © content below. ©

Life Skills can be defined as problem-solving behaviours responsibly and appropriately used in the management of personal affairs. Life Skills lessons focus on five content areas: self; family; community; leisure; job/school.


e goal of life skills programs is to develop skills that will help a person become a Balanced Self-Determined individual; that is one who can make decisions and have his or her needs met while taking into consideration the need of those around him or her. e way one becomes a Balanced Self-Determined person is by developing generic skills that can be transferred to other areas of life. ese generic skills include: 4 Human relation skills (communication and interpersonal relations) 4 Life management skills 4 Critical thinking skills 4 Problem-solving skills© Daily living skills, such as banking, grocery shopping, personal hygiene, scheduling, etc., relate more specifically to personal management and social skills that are necessary for adequate functioning on an independent basis. You can see where Living Skills fit into the generic skill areas covered by Life Skills.

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LiteracyExpress Spring 2012 ©

e Life Skills Model presented, practised and discussed during my training is completely compatible with adult literacy delivery within a community-based model as I know it. Why and how? 4 It is a theoretical model based on adult learning theory and modern psychology 4 It is a content model that focuses on skill development 4 It is a methodology that provides a framework and techniques for effective skills development 4 It is the interaction of all of the above as well as the dynamics that occur when participants are in a group setting 4 It uses a holistic approach to learning, combining psycho-motor (physical), cognitive (thinking) and affective (feeling) components 4 It uses an experiential approach in the lesson design to integrate principles of adult education 4 e emphasis is geared more to the process rather than the content. Life Skills uses a coach who facilitates the group process. e ultimate aim for the coach is to facilitate the PUT system. P

See the skills being practised in the group


Use those skills in the group and in daily life


Have group members feel comfortable enough with the skill that they could teach it to someone else.©

e goal is to coach others to become balanced, self determined individuals. Hmmm. at sounds a lot like the goals of adult literacy programs to me! e benefits to me in taking this training and becoming a Life Skills Coach are too many to share here. I can say that as a literacy educator some clear benefits include a lesson plan methodology that I have tried and works, clarity in purpose of integrating life skills into literacy delivery, concrete contextual ways to frame Essential Skills delivery, and access to hundreds of lesson plan resources located within the YWCA Discovering Life Skills publications. At the conclusion of our training each trainee received a Life Skills Coach Training Certificate and was welcomed into the Life Skills community. Opportunities for further training were presented and our group was even presented with an opportunity to apply for a life skills coach contract at a community agency! We will stay in touch with the pan-Canadian Life Skills community through a newsletter and ongoing if desired interaction with our coach trainer. Click here to check out this opportunity.

Nancy Friday is a long-time literacy worker in community-based literacy programs in Ontario. She is the Senior e-Learning and Educational Technology Consultant at AlphaPlus.

oLes resourcesp r a c t i t i o n e r sa In the big toolbox available on HRSDC’s website, there are two resources that are particularly interesting for practitioners wanting to stay up-to-date with labour market environments and current skill expectations in the workplace.

“essential Skills Profiles” is a by industry and profession searchable database with detailed information and specific skill requirements. 50 of the 350 profiles have recently been updated with revised task statements and new information reflecting how each occupation is affected by digital click on the technology. Updating for the rest is in screenshots to to the progress. All profiles can be viewed in html. go directly resources Profiles for Cashiers, Food and Beverage Servers and nurse Aides, Orderlies and Patient Service Associates are now also available in print, as part of a pilot project testing if there is demand for printed versions.

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labour Market Bulletins and labour Market Monitors provide an excellent overview of the specific labour market realities in every province and territory. e reports are constantly updated and allow practitioners to really stay on top of employment issues in their communities.


LiteracyExpress Spring 2012

r p r a c t i t i o n e r as cLLn onLineF oForum When educators get together at professional development events, we hear how energized they are and how much they enjoy the opportunity to interact. When they go back to their programs this momentum is lost until the next face-to-face opportunity to connect. As a Literacy and/or Essential Skills (L/ES) educator in a college, school board, community-based or workplace program, do you have a collective sense of the professionalism of the L/ES workforce but have limited opportunities to have an impact outside your own practice?

CLLN is inviting you to engage with others in the field every day. Reflecting on Issues and Practice Research in practice allows for reflection and many educators talk about the need for self-reflection. Do you have adequate opportunities for collaborative sharing and comparing with others? CLLN is now giving you the opportunity to talk to other educators. We have set up an online national forum in Moodle hosted for us by AlphaPlus. The discussion will be focused but with plenty of opportunity to raise new issues. We will invite experts to respond to significant issues. We look forward to keeping the energy and momentum constant. To do that, we need you to post your experiences, reflections and ideas. Only you can make this work!

Enter the Debate Self register in the CLLN Forum on Moodle. There are lots of topics; comments and trends will be highlighted on the CLLN website and in the CLLN newsletter to share insights widely and encourage others to join the debate.


Help shape professionalism in L/ES We are looking forward to spontaneous responses and thoughtful, insightful reflections. CLLN believes that bringing the literacy field together to debate issues will show the strength and commitment of the L/ES workforce. We will be able to show the groundswell behind what you think is important. Spread the word It is not that easy to reach the L/ES workforce, in other words, YOU. We are lucky, we managed to get to you and you are reading this now. Maybe your colleagues haven’t seen this invitation to get involved. Please share this information widely and encourage others to take part. Let’s show the commonalities and strengths of the L/ES workforce. Forward or print this document and share the information.

Here’s the way in: go to Locate, and click on

CLLN Forum login or register The discussion areas are arranged by topic. We encourage you to read the introduction first and the posts from your fellow educators.

To get involved in any of the discussions yourself all you have to do is click on

and share your views. Thank you for joining us and sharing your opinions. We are looking forward to meeting you online.

Do you think this forum works? We hope that we have found a good space by using a Moodle course for our forum but maybe there is a better platform. Please let us have your feedback. We would also love to know your burning topics. Can we do it? You bet! But we need your input. E-mail Chris Harwood:

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LiteracyExpress Spring 2012

coming up conFerences



WorkForce one-stop 2012 - toronto Connecting the Skilled Workforce with Workplaces and Marketplace


resdac course and Forum - ottaWa




of new technologiy tools for the workplace. Employers often need help to develop the skills of their workers and to ensure that these skills are effectively applied on the job. This event promises to address these questions and to challenge all involved stakeholders to rethink these issues together. hosted by The Conference Board of Canada click here for more info

Employers and educators are looking to do more to prepare workers for our evolving economy. Workforces are changing: new entrants include immigrants, Aboriginals, people with disabilities, and members of other diverse groups. Employers and educators want to know how these changes can drive better results for their organizations. How do we take full advantage

Learning communities, United to Develop Literacy! A two day course from June 10 to 12, offered in both official languages, will focus on place-based learning communities, led by Prof. Ron Faris, University of Victoria, Canada’s leading expert.

The course is followed by the Forum June 12 to 15, based on the same theme with experiential workshops emphasizing the principles of learmning communities hosted by RESDAC - click here for more info

transLiteracy conFerence - innisFiL, on Want to incorporate e-learning and new media into your program, but are overwhelmed with the technology? Looking for a hands-on learning opportunity, with instruction on how to find, manipulate and use images, sound and video? Want to find out how to address twenty-first century learning styles using web applications and services in your educational work?

CLLN Membership If you aren’t already a member, or haven’t renewed your membership, please click here for the membership form on the Clln website. We have two types of membership available – general and organizational. If you have any questions about becoming a member, or renewing your membership, please call the office at 613-563-2464 or email us at



Whether new to the online world or seasoned traveller on the information highway, you will leave the conference with a personal implementation plan, feeling less stressed about e-learning.

To learn more or to register, click here

summer institute- montréaL

Workplace Literacy & Essential Skills: Shaping a New Learning Culture

The 2012 Summer Institute will consolidate what we know about effective models and measures of workplace literacy and essential skills by weaving strands from Institutes since 2009 with findings from recent studies in Canada, the United States and abroad. While policy attention has concentrated on models, tools and assessment instruments, recent

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longer term studies indicate the significance of context and culture for WLES policy and practice. These factors seem to play roles at the level of country, province/state, region and organization. Just how important are they? How can we influence or change them? Share and create knowledge in a collaborative environment with a limited number of participants hosted by Centre for Literacy, click here for more info and to register


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Canadian Literacy and Learning Network Newsletter