HTM Blog

Connecting learning and community.

The Holyoke Tutor/Mentor program connects volunteers to adult education classes in Holyoke.



I stood in the dark at the end of a work event, a colleague and I up to our ankles in snow,  talking about transformation and hope and realism (when we really should have been getting into our cars and driving home before it got any later than it already was) 

Adult ed does that to you sometimes. (Or maybe any field that you care deeply about)

Getting a HiSET or learning basic English is inspiring (that's the hope) and it's hard (that's the realism). Doing either takes determination, grit, perseverance, support, a dose of luck, and then some. My colleague, and I, and most people in in this field, love and stay in adult education because we love to work with people who are so dedicated to transforming their lives.

But it's hard to transform your life.

And completing the transformation - learning not just basic English,but becoming fluent, getting not just a HiSET, but a college degree, getting not just a job, but a career, a dream job even - will be hard too, taking grit and determination and luck for years more than students are in our classes.

And the hard, sad, dispiriting truth is that some people will not reach the big, inspiring dreams we cheer them for dreaming. (In my colleague's case, a student who wished to become a world traveler and a veterinarian. Perhaps she or he will, perhaps not)

So what do we do with that?

How do we stay hopeful and inspired? How do we share hope and inspiration with our students, in the face of the very real challenges to transformation?

It's a big question, and neither of us had all of the answers.

But one of the partial answers echoed in my head as I got in my car and drove home, and as I went about the rest of my week, and as I sat trying to write a different blog post for today.

Transformation isn't just about the outcome -- the degree, the job, the world traveling veterinarian. (Although I hope they all become something as fulfilling and dream-worthy a world traveling veterinarian.)

Our classrooms are amazing, transformational spaces.

(With all due modesty, I believe this is true. Not just the classes she and I work with, but adult education classes in general)

Not our classrooms, but these folks knew how to name a school

My students come to math class and learn that they can do things they thought were impossible. Fractions, algebra, pass a math test, seem impossible, until they aren't.

I think that's a transformational thing to know.

I hope they remember it when they face the next impossible seeming thing. I hope ​I ​ remember it next time I face impossible seeming things in my own life.

I don't know how that will ripple in their lives, but I hope and believe it will.

Her students from across the globe learn to build a classroom community that is not just respectful, but embracing, supportive across differences in perspective, genuinely collaborative.

That is an achievement on a grand scale (even when practiced on the scale of a classroom) and a skill set that can transform.

I hope her students remember how to do it when they're citizens and community members, and share that wisdom and that skill with the rest of us.

I wish I knew how to make the transformation to world traveling vet, or even fluent English speaker and college graduate, easier. Until it is, it gives me hope and inspiration to remember that transformation can also look like wisdom and deep skills for the other parts of our lives, too. 

Thoughtful v.5: Not Knowing
Thoughtful v.4: Believing

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Saturday, 25 June 2022

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