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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Just-in-Time Essential Skills Training Gives Students What They Need When They Need It


The Sabtuan Regional Vocational Training Centre (SRVTC ), Cree School Board is on a native reserve with 1400 inhabitants, and serves nine different communities. When Michael Lewis, Director of the SRVTC discovered that in a group of sixteen students starting a program, they were lucky to end with six to eight, he knew that applying the techniques he already knew would not result in the change he was looking for.
It became obvious that some students needed help “when they needed it.” If they didn’t get it they’d skip class or quit. By adopting a durable coaching model that involved asking powerful questions and listening to discover what was important to each student, Lewis got the students to speak about their long-term and personal goals, even identifying and dealing with emotionally overwhelming issues. In one case a young man said that because his dad let him down, he couldn’t finish school. Lewis encouraged him to deal with that issue. That student came as a dropout and left as a graduate.
The SRVTC uses TOWES to establish skills gaps, and then brings in an Essential Skills resource teacher after pre-testing. Lewis realized that using hockey terminology would resonate more with students, so he calls resource teachers “coaches” and tutoring sessions “clinics,” and refers to extra help as “skills enhancement.” Lewis saw the need to build in flexibility that allows a student to be taken out of class just in time to address an issue before the student develops problems. The coach provides encouragement and support, and builds independence for selfregulation.