Providing Social and Personal Support

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Grundtvig course organisers require specific competences in this field. Mentoring is an important aspect in the personal and professional set of skills of teachers and trainers in the field of adult education. Important issues are what mentors do, how they interact with adult learners, and how mentors can be trained. A lot of information on mentoring can be found on the website of the European MINT project – Mentoring in Teacher Education (2007-2006), funded by the SOKRATES programme of the European Union: With regards to the first sub competence, personal and social mentoring and coaching (1), it is important that adult learners feel well in the group. As a trainer or teacher you can influence the well-being of the learners. It is important that the learners have respect for each other and that they feel motivated to attend the course. If you want to read more about the tasks, roles and different perspectives of mentors and trainers you can read the article Mentoring in Teacher Education - towards innovative school developmentwritten by Dietlind Fischer and Lydia van Andel. In the article Social Mentoring: What is it and is it right for you? social mentoring is described as a form of informal mentoring in which mentoring opportunities arise ad hoc, starting and ending quickly based on a specific learning need. When you introduce social mentoring it is important that you take into consideration aspects such as the goals of the program and the demographic make-up of the learners. University of Brighton published the paper Towards an understanding of Mentoring, Social Mentoring and Befriending , in which social mentoring is regarded as effecting a change in social status from exclusion to inclusion.

In order to enhance the well-being of adult learners you can get the learners acquainted by choosing one of the following getting acquainted exercises on Wisconsin get acquainted activities, or Lesson planning get acquainted activities, or Effective classroom get acquainted activities. Furthermore there are a of lot of ice breaking activities, such as Wilderdom icebreakers, Games and energisersor facilitation tips, games, and energizers. These tools include name games, introductory games, fun energizers,  fun ways to get people into groups, closing activities and general facilitation tips. Making your workshop interactive, participatory, and fun will be key in engaging your participants and creating an effective learning environment. If you want to know more about the organization of a workshop in general you can consult the EU checklist for Organising Workshops (Seminars, Conferences and other events). Logistical matters, additional information and translation facilities can be found there as well. Another useful article to read is Creative Facilitation Techniques. It is still useful to learn about creative facilitation techniques and how you can optimize learning conditions of adult learners.

Not only the sense of belonging to the group is important, but also the personal state of mind and well-being of the participants must be taken care of. The second sub competence is personal and emotional support (2). This competence is about individual people letting feel stable. In the GINCO quality features document by Jaap van Lakerveld and Joost de Zoete, a lot of statements have been written on what quality of Grundtvig courses may be composed of. With regards to personal and emotional support several aspects in the report has been described, such as ‘social interactive learning’, ‘teambuilding’, ‘meaningful social and cultural activities’, ‘tuning in to arising needs’, ‘individual, group and plenary work mix’, ‘personal approach, ‘coaching when needed’, ‘counseling opportunities’, ‘inclusion’, ‘social dimension’, ‘e-mail facilities’, and so on. Furthermore it is helpful to read the dos and don’ts regarding the interaction with the learners in When Students Need Emotional Support: Dos and Don'ts. Some examples of do’s are: do collaborate, do talk to the learners and do stay calm. More tools for building trust and encouraging participation and discussion, and tools for tackling difficult issues can be found on Facilitation Tools for Meetings and Workshops. These examples of tools can help adult learners to feel well and gain trust. There also can be cultural differences between the adult learners with a mixture of languages. If you want to read more about that you can have a look at the article Cultural diversity: fracture lines in adult education practice by Larry G. Martin. It is very important to look after the social aspect when you organize a course. One way to do that is to make sure that all adult learners are involved in the group process. One example can be found at Planning a Workshop.

Sub competence 3 is conflict solving, mediation & and group dynamics (3). In the book group dynamics of Donelson R. Forsyth there is a lot you can read about definitions and concepts, for example about characteristics of groups and how group processes work. The article Building Positive Group Dynamics demonstrates that group dynamics are an important factor in the success of lessons and courses. If you want to get more insight in the nature of certain problems or conflicts between the learners you could do the exercise the five why’s. A person outlines her or his own problem and formulates it as a sentence. Then she or he asks ‘Why’ five times, each time getting deeper into understanding of the problem.

Another example of a tool that may clarify certain problems between group members is Collegial Consultation. In this exercise participants can solve problems with each other by giving good advice and comments. Another exercise that helps solving problems or conflicts is the fish bowl, in which the problem owner gets advice from the other group members.

Sub competence Learning skills (4) is about gaining study skills and learning skills. If you want to know more about conditions of learning you can read Conditions for professional learning by Jaap van Lakerveld and Dietlind Fischer. In the article an overview is displayed of how the definitions and theories of learning have changed in the last decades. After this overview some ideas are shared on schools who could try to promote professional learning among teachers.

Another article, Learning to learn in the European Reference Framework for lifelong learning by Anne Pirrie & Ernst D. Thoutenhoofd, explores the construction of learning to learn that is implicit in the document Key Competences for Lifelong Learning. The authors argue for greater attention to the embodied, situated, affective and creative dimensions of learning to learn. If you want to get insight in your path for most effective learning you must get to know yourself, your capacity to learn, the process you have successfully used in the past and your interest in, and knowledge of, the subject you wish to learn. 

An helpful step for learning is to get insight in your personal goals and to report your personal logs. An example can be found in the tool Working with Personal Goals and Personal Logs. A tool with respect to the content is learning how to do good summarizing. A good summary is clarifying and aimed at the most important issues. Participants could use the skill of being a good listener in their professional lives. The exercise Communication exercise in summarizingmight be a useful tool for this goal. Another important aspect of the quality learning is performing (self) evaluation of the learning. In the MINT project Jaap van Lakerveld has described several tools for evaluation.

Professional consultancy and counseling (5) is the fifth sub competence. The Effective Career Guidance handbook is the final product of the European network “CareerGuide For Schools” ( It is a practical tool which includes the main theories of the career guidance, new approaches and exercises and activities for career guidance in school. The main aim is to provide teachers or counsellors a practical manual with exercises and activities. Furthermore an useful aspect of giving participants advice on their profession career is giving feedback in an open atmosphere and in absence of fear. If you want to know more about giving feedback you can read the article Basic information on feedback.

The adult learners must translate the things that they have learned into their professional lives. One way to do that is the incident method. The moderator invites the learners to think about a problem that occurred in their professional life that has not been solved yet. They shortly present their problems to the group and the group decides upon one to discuss it further. Furthermore there are several tools that will help adult education teachers with counseling, for example Basic Counselling Skills Handout, Nine Essential Basic Client Centered Counseling Skills, or Basic Counselling Skills Worksheet.

At a certain point the course has come to an end and the adult learners try to integrate the things have learned in their work and professional lives. The sixth competence, transfer and perspectives (6), is about this integration. The article Learning Transfer: A review of the research in adult education and training is useful for those who want to know more about how transfer of learning from the classroom to the workplace works. This article reviews the empirical research since 1990 on learning transfer. If you want to read the transfer of learning results to the workplace you can consult the book Transferring learning to the workplace by Jack. J. Phillips and Mary L. Broad. In Emerging Trends of Research on Transfer of Learning Bhawani Shankar Subedi describes the transfer of learning from training. Transfer of training is defined as the extent of retention and application of the knowledge, skills and attitudes from the training environment to the workplace environment. This review focuses on related literature and previous studies geared towards the process and strategies of facilitating the application of knowledge, skills, and attitudes from training to job.

Learning results of learning situations should be applied back at work. The Kaizen training institute describes 21 Ways to Maximise Transfer of Learning. When designing and delivering learning and development initiatives, we take into account some aspects to make the transfer more successful. On How to facilitate the transfer of learning into the workplaceseveral suggestions have been made.




Recommended activities 

Ginco documents

European documents and links


1.Tools - Personal and social mentoring and coaching


Wisconsin get acquainted activities 

Social Mentoring: What is it and is it right for you? 

Lessonplanning get acquainted activities 

Towards an understanding of Mentoring, Social Mentoring and Befriending 


Effective classroom get acquainted 

Mentoring in Teacher Education - towards innovative school development 


Wilderdom icebreakers 

Creative Facilitation Techniques 


Games and energisers 



facilitation tips, games, and energizers 




EU checklist for Organising Workshops (Seminars, Conferences and other events) 





2.Tools -  Personal emotional support

Facilitation Tools for Meetings and Workshops 


GINCO quality features 

When Students Need Emotional Support: Dos and Don'ts 

Planning a Workshop 



Cultural diversity: fracture lines in adult education practice 






3.Tools - Conflict solving, mediation & and group dynamics

The five why’s 


Introduction to group dynamics 

Collegial Consultation 



Building Positive Group Dynamics 


Fish bowl






4.Tools - Learning skills

Working with Personal Goals and Personal Logs 



Conditions for professional learning 

Communication Exercise in Summarizing


Learning to learn in the European Reference Framework for lifelong learning 

Tools for evaluation


path for most effective learning 





5.Tools - Professional consultancy and counseling

The incident method 


Effective Career Guidance handbook 

Basic Counselling Skills Handout


Basic information on feedback 

Nine Essential Basic Client Centered Counseling Skills



Basic Counselling Skills Worksheet 







6. Tools - Transfer & perspectives

21 Ways to Maximise Transfer of Learning


Learning Transfer: A review of the research in adult education and training 

How to facilitate the transfer of learning into the workplace


Transferring learning to the workplace 



Emerging Trends of Research on Transfer of Learning 




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