Elaine Doffman

I have been working as a study skills tutor for 15 years, first as an agency worker. I now still do some agency work but have been employed part-time at Wrexham Glyndwr University since 2015. I became involved with ADSHE in 2011 as joint co-ordinator of the North Wales and North West region. I found the fellowship of other colleagues invaluable, and as I love to learn new skills and continually improve my practice ADSHE regional meeting was a great place to do this. I am a very practical person, and although theory is very interesting, my real interest is how these fit into our everyday work to give my students the best possible support. Over the years, I have produced material which has been shared with my regional group on different subjects and have given several talks, including work on metacognition. I continue to use creative and interesting ways to engage my students.

I came into this field of work from primary teaching after already qualifying as a dyslexia teacher soon after the beginning of my career. Therefore, working in a multi-sensory way incorporating overlearning, relevance, little and often, and modelling was second nature to my day to day teaching. Soon after I began working as a tutor, I came across the ADSHE mind map, setting out the underlying 7-principles® , I thought this was wonderful and fitted in so well with my pedogeological philosophy. No other organisation or study skills books I read mention these principles at the time, and I was delighted that these were being talked about at adult level.

I have recently done work on cognitive load and have incorporated many of the 7-principles® into this talk. I enjoy sharing ideas and resources with others, again working from my own or other people’s direct experiences is a wonderful way to learn. I usually have a project in hand, and I have recently been working on a workshop about building students’ confidence, which will be given at this conference. I then plan to update a booklet written five years ago on this subject. I am in the process of developing a set of cards, some directly reiterating the seven principals, and others as reminders for particular skills, such as doing a presentation. I no longer give out handouts after we have discussed a particular subject, as this was just one more thing to read, but give the student a reminder card to put up or put in their file. These have been very popular with my students.

I love my job and the opportunity to continually learn as well as sharing ideas and resources with others. Goodness knows what I will do when I retire, other than drive my husband crazy!

Linda Kirkham

My original interest in the acquisition and meaning of literacy skills was sparked through working in the community with young adults. This began an abiding interest in the role, currency and power of literacy, and the issues for those that struggle with it, or did not get the right opportunities to learn.  This led to working in Adult Basic Education and further training, gradually specialising in Specific Learning Differences.  I was lucky enough to work at the University of Leicester for eight years, as part of a newly appointed team establishing dedicated support services for students with disabilities, where I also took an M.Ed (post-16/SpLDs).  I have worked at Loughborough University for the last 19 years as a specialist support tutor and, until 2015, as a DSA assessor of needs.

I have always felt privileged to be working as part of an in-house team of good colleagues who are always willing to explore ideas and dilemmas in ways that help us all develop our practice, and often result in the design of attractive, adult-based resources that support our students. I continue to gain great satisfaction through being able to do useful work with the majority of students allocated to me. This sometimes happens through discovering a catalyst that gives a ‘Eureka’ moment, or it may happen slowly through careful scaffolding and accumulation of small steps over time.  In respect of good practice, I have been around throughout the development of ADSHE as our professional body, and this has been invaluable, not least in its status with funding bodies, but also in providing a consensus (and reassurance!) about the elements of effective methodology (the 7 principles® ), and in providing continuously enjoyable training, learning and networking opportunities.

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