The challenge of working with adult learners

Very useful post. Thinking of the type of learners that teachers are is a very important angle.

Ed Leader


For many educational leaders, working with adults needs to be given greater consideration when planning change initiatives or designing professional growth and development opportunities. In workshops that I have led on developing collaborative teams, a major area of focus has been on understanding adults as learners. Coaching, teaching and leading adults is different to teaching students. While many of the points below could be applied to working with our school students, there are both subtle and more noticeable differences to working with adults that must be acknowledged and addressed.

  1. Many adults want self-direction and autonomy: This is a ‘right’ that comes with being an adult. Good leaders are able to strike a balance between getting their teachers to focus on the right work while giving teachers the opportunity for self-directed learning and decision-making.
  2. Adults have set habits that have been established over time: The saying that you cannot teach an…

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