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Content Instructors

Most likely you've already been working with basic skills students, but what does that mean?  Basic skills students fall into three categories: non-native English speakers (ESL), students who have not completed high school (GED), and students who have not yet reached college level academic skills.  Often these three groups overlap.  In your I-BEST program, you will be working with a basic skills instructor to deliver professional/technical training that also helps build the academic and language skills these students lack.

So how do you do that?

Outside the classroom:

How do you share the classroom with a basic skills instructor 50% of the time?

What does your communication plan look like?  Here are some tools to help you in a successful teaching relationship.

  • Communication is key - develop a communication plan with the basic skills instructor to have regular meeting times either on the phone, by email or in person
  • Flexibility - be prepared to change your lesson plan at the last minute to fit the students immediate needs
  • Be clear with what you expect from the students - with both students and co-instructors.
  • When planning instruction, structure your lessons so that students become more and more comfortable with the material before asking them to produce.  Here are some steps you can follow (adapted from Facilitative Language Teaching by Dr. Nancy Tulare):
    • Anticipation - discuss with the students what they already know about the topic.
    • Reception - go over the material three different ways before expecting the students to produce answers or assignments.
    • Production - when doing assignments, move from teacher-led to student-led activities.
    • Evaluation - develop assessments that test how the students would apply the content in the real world.
    • Extension - when possible, assign outside activities that target the content in a real-world environment, and have the students report their experiences back to the class.

For more information on collaborative instruction, see the Co-teaching page.

In the classroom:

Here are some tips for working with basic skills students in the classroom when the basic skills instructor is not there:

  • Keep lectures to a minimum - students learn better when they are interactive with the content.
  • Insert comprehension checks after lecturing over a couple of the main points.  Then add on new information.
  • Keep slang and "big words" to a minimum - unless directly needed for the field.  For a video demonstration of what might confuse ESL students, click here.
  • Be aware of cultural references - not everyone knows that keeping your eye on the prize means keeping your goal in mind.
  • Encourage discussion and questions.
  • Pause after asking a question - basic skills students often need an extra moment or two to process information.
  • Provide hands on activities.
  • Repeat instructions and assignments in several different ways - in writing, orally and by demonstration.
  • Show examples of what your expectations are for each project.


Do you think teaching an I-BEST class is a fit for you?  Take a look at these self-assessment questions