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December 2015 Newsletter

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Monday, December 28, 2015

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

You know the importance of setting goals, but are the goals you're setting actually reachable or are you setting yourself up for failure before you even start? The S.M.A.R.T. goals approach helps ensure that you can realistically accomplish your goals, which will help you stay motivated.

Here is how you can create your own S.M.A.R.T. goals:

  • Specific: Make sure you are setting specific enough goals. Try to answer these five "W" questions: Who? What? Where? Which? Why? Example: General goal - Get in shape. Specific goal - Join a health club and workout three days a week.
  • Measurable: It is important to include targets and concrete criteria in your goals. Do your goals indicate how much or how many? This is how you will know if and when you have reached your goals.
  • Achievable: Are your goals attainable? Your goals should motivate you to grow so you can accomplish them, but not so far out of reach that they stifle you.
  • Realistic: Does it make sense? Goals should align with your vision and be relevant to progress to ensure success.
  • Timely: No goal is complete without a deadline, so don't forget to include a time period to keep you on track.

 As you think about your goals for the new year, we encourage you to use these tactics and make S.M.A.R.T. goals.

 Making English as a Second Language Accessible and Relevant to Our Students

According to the 2015 Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) enrollment data, 4,899 (40 percent of adult education) consisted of ESL. This represents an increase of 23.1 percent (3,890) in comparison to the 2014 AEL enrollment data. Continuous growth allows us an opportunity to continue to do what we do well and identify areas for improvement. Integration of workforce preparation activities and education training is an opportunity to change the lives of our participants and their families. Having the ability to learn English while participating in workforce preparation and workforce activities is a win-win for our participants and our programs.

Recently, Pine Ridge Farms, an employer known in Des Moines as one who hires English language learners, partnered with Des Moines Area Community College to offer ESL classes at their location. Pine Ridge wanted to begin promoting within and felt their current employees needed opportunities to improve their English. As a result of making ESL classes accessible and relevant, Pine Ridge has been able to promote from within, allowing current employees to see the benefit of participating in ESL classes.

Creating a workplace ESL class is not an easy task. Below is a brief summary of an article titled "Planning, Implementing and Evaluating Workplace ESL Programs." To access the full version, click here . I encourage you to reflect on how you can implement work-based ESL classes. If you have questions or would like some ideas, please contact Marcela at

 The Five Steps to Implementing a Work-based ESL Program

Any employment-related English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) program, whether conducted on the job or as pre-employment training, results from five steps: performing a need analysis of the language and cultural awareness necessary to perform successfully in the workplace; developing a curriculum, based on objectives, that identifies and prioritizes tasks and skills for verbal interaction on the job; planning instruction; determining instructional strategies that keep the class focused on goals and learner-centered, and includes paired and group work; and formative and summative program evaluation.

Work-base curriculum topics may include workplace communication expectations, following directions and instructions, job-specific terminology, cross-cultural issues, company organization and culture, and career development and training. Student evaluation methods include checklists for recording student progress, learner-generated learning logs, and individual learner portfolios containing student work samples, testing results, and self-analysis. (MSE) (Adjunct ERIC Clearinghouse on Literacy Education)

Click here to read more.

 Coordinator Highlight: Meet Scott Schneider

Scott Schneider, Dean of Adult Education, Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (Clinton, Scott and Muscatine)

How long have you been a coordinator/instructor for Adult Education?
I have been in my current position for six months but have served in various leadership capacities in adult education for 25+ years.

Tell us one thing you enjoy about your position.
In working with adult students, it is a matter of making connections. In the learning process, we are helping our students connect new concepts to their past experiences and knowledge base as a means of making the learning personal and meaningful. Outside the classroom, we are helping to make connections between scholastic achievement and potential success, connections that chart future opportunity, and connections in the community that help grow individual networks as they seek to implement their success plan. Our students come to us with life experience, a gift that helps them contextualize their learning. Paired with strong internal motivation, many realize significant success that they never knew was possible. In essence, we are connecting our students with their future. There is no better feeling.

Tell us about yourself .

  • Originally from Cedar Falls, IA. Married to Donna for 31 years.
  • Two children: Jessica, 26, elementary education degree from Clarke University. Aaron, 19, student at Scott Community College.
  • Member of Rotary International for 21 years.
  • 25+ years in adult education, including private and public, 2- and 4-year programs.
  • B.A. in computer science, M.A. in higher education administration, and Ph.D. (ABD) in postsecondary and adult education.
  • Liturgical musician (guitar and vocals) and active in community theater, having appeared in nearly 40 on-stage productions. Most common role: priest (seven productions)

Why did you choose your profession?
I worked my way through college developing education tutorial software published by a group of local educators. In addition, I had the opportunity to teach some basic computer courses via the local community college's continuing education program. Never having anticipated that I would someday become an educator, I went directly into the computer field upon graduation. Upon being downsized from my first position, I found myself applying for an instructor position at a local business college. From there, I never looked back. More than 25 years later, I guess I can say that I am officially an educator.

What is your favorite quote?
Don't allow yourself to worry about the things over which you have no control.
What words of wisdom would you pass onto your childhood self?
Learning and development will be a lifelong experience. Take your education seriously and it will serve you well in the future. Be sure to learn the whys and the hows so that you are able to transfer your knowledge and skills to other applications.

What words of wisdom would you pass onto your childhood self?
Learning and development will be a lifelong experience. Take your education seriously and it will serve you well in the future. Be sure to learn the whys and the hows so that you are able to transfer your knowledge and skills to other applications.

 Kayla's Story

Kayla went to school through ninth grade. Earning her High School Equivalency Diploma was important to her, and with the help of her teachers and tutors, Kayla received her diploma on November 20, 2014. She now feels free within herself because of her accomplishment.

View Kayla's story here.


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