BELOIT - Ezi Adesi knows the way to connect with his adult students is to reach them where they are at. He walks their neighborhoods, visits their bus stops and grocery stores and isn't afraid to show his softer side.
"There's times I call it 'taking off my tie.' I always build in a small moment of informality when I sit down with a student," Adesi said. "I share my expertise, but in a very humanistic way."
Adesi, a director of adult basic education (ABE) in Madison, has published his first book, "12 Methods to Make Your ABE Students Comfortable Even Before the Learning Starts: A Handbook for ABE Administrators."
Beloit native Adesi graduated from Beloit Memorial High School in 2002, and attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where he obtained a sociology degree. He fell in love with teaching adults as every student's story was unique. Some didn't have high school diplomas while others would have a graduate degree but lacked basic skills such as reading, writing or computer literacy.
During his teaching he realized how important it was to make adult students comfortable as many of them had negative educational experiences in the past.
"Students come to me with anxiety and fear. They've been out of school for years," he said. "It can be very daunting to return to school. When they come to me there is a lot of walls and barriers that need breaking down."
Adesi formulated a 12-step methodology to get his ABE students comfortable for learning.
He said the first chapter of the book is about understanding the culture of students.
"Being culturally competent and being aware of their daily lives and experiences is first and foremost," Adesi said.
The next thing is to make students feel welcome. Another method Adesi uses is expressing pride in his position as an educator.
"You want the students to feel they are in good hands," he said.
Adesi also likes to share the success stories of other students.
"When they realize there are other people just like them who have received help and went on to be successful, it makes them more comfortable moving forward," he said.
A non-judgmental atmosphere filled with success stories can make for a fertile learning environment.
"Students can begin to let their guard down and learn," Adesi said.
Adesi said his book will be useful for literacy agencies, community and technical colleges and continuing education and human services professionals. It's available on Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com and the publisher's website, www.henschelhausbooks.com.
Adesi said he is available for speaking engagements for those who want to learn more about student motivation. People can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.