CANOE Network

The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Turn expertise into valuable lessons

By Linda White
Special to the Toronto Sun

Auto mechanics, flight instruction, Feng Shui, wine tasting, quilt making. Whatever your field of expertise, learning how to teach it or share it with others often means going back to the classroom.

The teacher of adults certificate is widely recognized as the steppingstone to becoming a workplace trainer, college instructor or for those interested in teaching general interest courses.

"Popular program"

"It's a really popular program," says Marilynn Daye, program manager at Centennial College in Toronto. "People interested in becoming a teacher of adults are really passionate about what they do. They want to take their expertise to another level. They realize they have experience and expertise and want to share that."

The certificate, offered by many colleges through continuing education, does not prepare you to teach in high school. In Ontario, that requires a Bachelor of Education degree.

"The teacher/trainer of adults program is designed to prepare people to work in the training field, whether it is formal or informal learning," says Ruth Hickey, manager of Humber Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning's open learning centre.

Humber offers its teacher/trainer of adults certificate as an online learning program through Ontario, a consortium of 22 community colleges. The program gives students the skills to achieve any of a number of goals.

"Some applicants have aspirations of teaching in a college system, however, they must also have extensive experience in their respective field to be eligible for this employment," Hickey says.

"The majority of our applicants have experience as workplace trainers and are looking for ways to refine or enhance their skill set," Hickey says. "Some participants basically want a credential to support what they are presently doing. Others are volunteers and feel that this program will help them serve their community better, (such as) community centres, literacy groups."

Being successful as an adult teacher/trainer requires a deep knowledge of your subject.

"I always caution participants that employment opportunities are dependent upon the hiring practices of the organization to which they apply," Hickey says. "This program, in combination with experience, would certainly improve their employability in this field."
  • A teacher of adults certificate program is designed to provide skills to those wishing to become certified as adult trainers in a workplace, those interested in teaching at a college level and those who are experts in their field and want to learn how to teach/share their expertise.
    Information from Centennial College (

  • At Centennial College, the teacher of adults certificate is a prerequisite for its instructors. "Colleges tend to hire for expertise," Daye says. "You might be the best in your field, but that doesn't mean you know how to teach it."

    Students in the program design a course or training session of at least 20 hours for a group of learners. They continue to develop that training session throughout the program, learning how to effectively deliver their training session to a diverse group of learners.

    "Learners learn in many different ways," Daye says. "Some are auditory, some are visual and others are hands-on learners. This program teaches students how they can meet the needs of all the learners in their training session or class."

    Students will also develop evaluation or assessment strategies for their course. "As a teacher, you need to know how to assess your students to ensure they're learning what you're teaching," Daye says.

    Finally, students present a portion of their training session to their peers. After being videotaped and receiving class feedback, they revise their presentation.

    "It's amazing how much you can improve with positive constructive criticism in a safe environment," Daye says. "We try to help our learners become dynamic, cooperative teachers."

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