How to Become an Adult Literacy or High School Equivalency Diploma Teacher
Working with students of different abilities and backgrounds can be difficult and teachers must respond with patience when students struggle with material.
Most adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree. Employers typically prefer workers who have some teaching experience, which they can get through teaching children or adults.
Most states require adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Although a bachelor’s degree in any field is acceptable, some employers, such as community colleges, prefer to hire those with a master’s degree or graduate coursework in adult education or English as a second language (ESL).
Master’s degrees in adult education prepare prospective teachers to use effective teaching strategies for adult learners, to work with students from various backgrounds, and to develop adult education programs. Some programs allow these prospective teachers to specialize in adult basic education, secondary education, or ESL.
Some colleges and universities offer master’s degrees or graduate certificates in teaching adult education or English for speakers of other languages (ESOL). Programs help prospective teachers learn how to teach adults, work with learners from a variety of cultures, and learn how to teach adults with learning disabilities.
Programs in English as a second language not only help these prospective teachers understand how adults learn languages, but also prepare them to teach communication skills. Prospective ESL teachers should take courses or training in linguistics and theories of how people learn second languages. Knowledge of a second language is not necessary to teach ESL, but it is helpful to understand what students are going through.
Many adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers take professional development classes to ensure that they keep up with the latest research in teaching adults and improve their teaching skills.
Most employers require workers to have a few years of experience teaching. However, experience can be gained through teaching either children or adults.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Some states require adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers to have a teaching certificate to work in government-run programs. Some states have certificates specifically for adult education. Other states require teachers to have a certificate in elementary or secondary education. To obtain a license, adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers typically need a bachelor’s degree and must have passed an approved teacher-training program. For more information, contact the state director of adult education. Contact information can be found from the U.S. Department of Education.
In order to receive certification or licensure, teachers need to perform fieldwork, commonly referred to as student teaching. During student teaching, they work with a mentor teacher and get experience teaching students in a classroom setting. The amount of time required varies by state.
Communication skills. Teachers must collaborate with other teachers and program administrators. In addition, they talk to students about their progress and goals, and must explain concepts in terms that students can understand.
Cultural sensitivity. Adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers must be able to work with students from a variety of cultural, educational, and economic backgrounds. They must be understanding and respectful of their students’ backgrounds and be familiar with their concerns.
Patience. Working with students of different abilities and backgrounds can be difficult. Teachers must be patient when students struggle with material.
Resourcefulness. Adult literacy and high school equivalency diploma teachers need to be able to respond to difficult situations and think on their feet. For example, they need to be able to alter their teaching methods to meet the needs of each student they teach and find ways to keep students engaged in learning.