Getting There
A Curriculum for People Moving into Employment
A Facilitator's Guide

by Mary Beth Bingman
The Center for Literacy Studies
The Community Partnership Center
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Contents of this Web Page
To Begin
The Getting There Approach
Facilitating the Introduction of Getting There
Using the Sample Agenda
Let Us Hear From You
Sample Agenda


This guide was developed with help and advice from Brenda Bell, Wil Hawk, Margaret Lindop, and Connie White at the Center for Literacy Studies. Margaret also co-facilitated and co-designed the workshop presented in the Sample Agenda.

The guide was developed with support from the Community Partnership Center at The University of Tennessee, and funded under an award with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The author is solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Government.

Copies of
Getting There: A Curriculum for People Moving into Employment
are available at cost from the

Center for Literacy Studies (email link)
600 Henley Street, Suite 312
Knoxville, Tennessee 37996-4125
Phone: 423-974-4109

Introducing Getting There -- A Facilitator's Guide


Getting There, A Curriculum for People Moving into Employment is designed to be used by programs that work with people who are moving into employment, often for the first time. Many of these people may be moving from welfare to work. Welfare reform has made this kind of curriculum particularly relevant.

The design of Getting There assumes that a teacher or some other facilitator will be working with the participants as they move toward employment. The teacher may be in an Adult Basic Education or literacy program, a workforce development program, a social services agency, or a community based group. Getting There is written for teachers and has the basic information needed to use the curriculum. But when Getting There is first used in a program or by individual teachers an introduction or training helps the transition to a new approach. And as we will discuss, Getting There is different from many other approaches to preparation for employment.

Your job is to facilitate this introduction to Getting There. You may be an ABE supervisor, a staff development specialist, a lead teacher, or have some other role that puts you in the position of facilitating the introduction. This guide gives you some background information about the approach used in Getting There, suggestions on how to introduce the curriculum, and a sample agenda. It assumes that you have had experience in facilitation and working with groups, but not that you have used Getting There -- although that would be ideal.

To Begin

Your first task is to become familiar with Getting There. If you have not already done so, stop now and read:

Thumb through the rest of the book and read a few activities.

Or stop and read the entire curriculum.

Take notes on your own questions or confusions and on your impressions of what will concern or confuse the teachers to whom you will be introducing Getting There.

The Getting There Approach

Preparation for employment or job readiness classes help people learn what they need to know to get a job. The program staff may begin by asking, "What do our students (or clients or customers) need to know?" Getting There asks this question, too, but it asks it of the participants (the students, clients, customers) as well as of others in the program and community. And it asks, "What do you already know -- about yourself, your needs, the work world in your community?" The Getting There approach is based in participatory approaches to education, outlined in the assumptions listed in the Introduction on page one. Participatory education assumes that what the learner knows and brings should be the starting point of learning and that curriculum should be based on the learners' experiences. And it assumes that the process of learning new things happens most effectively when learners reflect on what they already know and explore and investigate to learn new information and develop new understanding.

So how is this different in practice?

While a typical employment preparation class might involve a group listening to presentations on dress, or resume writing followed by practice, a Getting There class might go into the workplace to see how people dress or interview employers to find out what they look for in a resume. In all good employment preparation classes participants take part in activities that help them consider what jobs might be of interest to them; Getting There also asks participants to reflect on where they have come from and what they need and want from a job, based on their lives and values. Getting There does not use a workbook or text. There are activity sheets that participants may use for some activities, but a lot of the most important activities involve the group in developing their own written materials based on information from their communities. And there are no "right" answers. There are the best answers for particular people and groups.

Getting There draws on the resources participants bring with them. It also draws on the resources of the community. This may be the reference section of the local library or the classified ads in the newspaper. But the most important resources are the people of the community who as employees and employers provide understanding of what the work world (or training opportunities) are like.

The differences Getting There implies for teachers will depend to some extent on the teacher's approach to instruction. The differences will not be as great for teachers who have used a theme-based or learner centered curriculum as for teachers who tend to use more teacher-centered text-based approaches. But all teachers will have some changes to make and new things to learn about themselves and their communities. And they will be asked to reach beyond the classroom in ways that they may not have done before. The support of program administrators and staff developers are important in supporting these changes.

Why bother with all this? Aren't there ways of helping people move into employment that aren't as complicated, that don't take so much effort? Probably so. The goal of Getting There is not just to help people get into any job. The goal is to have people who want to (or have to) go to work make informed decisions about jobs and learn the skills needed in today's workplaces in the process.

The U.S. Department of Labor's SCANS (Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills) report lists five areas of competency needed in today's workplaces:

In the activities of Getting There, participants will develop their competencies in all these areas.

Is this a job I can do?

Is this a job that connects in some way to who I am, to my strengths, my values?

Is this a job that meets my needs?

Am I being realistic about what jobs are available in my community?

Do I know what the employment situation is likely to be in the future?

Have I made the necessary plans for transportation and childcare?

Do I know how to deal with problem situations at work?

In the process of discovering the answers to these and similar questions, Getting There participants will have opportunities to develop and practice the skills and competencies proposed in the SCANS Report. And their learning will be based in principles of effective adult education. Workbooks and other texts may be used to support this learning, but not to structure the learning process.

Principles of Effective Adult Education

(From Breast and Cervical Cancer Curriculum Sourcebook. Used by permission of World Education.)

Facilitating the Introduction of Getting There

The adult learning principles followed in Getting There apply to the learning of teachers as well as students. Learning to use a new approach in the classroom is more effective if the learners, in this case the teachers, build on their own goals and experiences, have the opportunity to practice the activities and reflect on what they are learning, and are active participants in the learning experience.

The facilitator's role is to lead the activities (as in a Getting There classroom), to help clarify questions and explore possible answers, and to introduce and be a guide to new information, in this instance, the curriculum. Each teacher will then take the curriculum and use it in ways that work for his or her class and the participants in that class. Opportunities for discussion, questioning, raising concerns, and sharing experiences are as important as the activities that help teachers become familiar with Getting There. (For more information on participatory staff development see Teacher as Learner: A Sourcebook for Participatory Staff Development. Center for Literacy Studies, 1995. )

Using the Sample Agenda

The following sample agenda is based on trying activities and then discussing them. The participants in the training switch from trying activities as they would as students to discussing the activity as a teacher/facilitator. Preparation is similar for preparation for a class: copying work sheets, preparing materials, collecting supplies.

This model was planned for a particular group of practitioners at a particular time. It was designed for a group of twenty-five Tennessee Families First teachers and Department of Human Services (DHS) staff. Families First is Tennessee's welfare reform program. The teachers were being trained in Getting There so they might integrate it into their classes for Families First participants. The DHS staff was interested in learning about the curriculum. This training was designed for one day-long session.

So what follows is a sample agenda. Use it to see how a training might be structured. Adapt exercises from it. But don't follow it as a recipe. Use it to stimulate your own thinking as you plan your training.

The sample facilitator's agenda as presented is emphasized below. Explanatory notes are in plain type. Ideally participants will have had the opportunity to review Getting There before they come to the training. If not, give out the notebooks as people arrive and give them some time to look through it.

Let Us Hear From You

Our approach to this guide is like the approach used in Getting There. We have given some suggestions, some examples, but you will take these and create a training event that meets the needs of the teachers and learners in your program. We will learn from hearing about how it works for you. What was successful? What didn't work at all? What wonderful new ideas did you come up with? Please feel free to contact us at the Center for Literacy Studies at 423-974-4109 ar by email at We look forward to hearing from you!


Families First Getting There Workshop

Facilitator's Agenda


Determine your goals for the training and state them to yourself first and then share them with the group you are training.

9:30 Welcome

Introduce trainers and Getting There and where it came from.

This activity sets the stage and let's your participants know why they are here and that people think it is important.

Your welcome should be from the sponsoring group or agency as well as yourself. You may want to bring representatives in for this. Then introduce yourself or your team. It's probably good to include a little about your experiences and how you came to be training for Getting There. Introduce Getting There by telling a little about how it was developed (pages 2-4.)

9:35 Agenda and goal review

The agenda and goal review lets participants know what to expect and gives them an opportunity to make changes to meet their needs.

Go over the day's agenda and take care of housekeeping like where the bathrooms are and how lunch and breaks will be handled. Then review your goals for the day. You may want to post them on newsprint and have them on the agendas you hand out. Give participants the opportunity to offer suggestions about the agenda and make changes as needed. Likewise add any goals the group has and try to meet those goals. If you think you can't, say so and try to plan another way to deal with this later.

9:45 Introductions - Who are we?

Go around the room and have each person tell their name, where they are from and their connections to Families First.

The purpose of introductions is to begin to build a sense of group. Participants will learn who is here and their connections.

You may want to use a more interactive approach, for example having each person write words that describe themselves on a piece of colored paper and then introduce themselves as they put the pieces of paper together on the wall to make a "quilt." You might make one big quilt or several smaller ones depending on the size of the group.

10:15 The Four Questions

Introduce the four questions that structure Getting There.

Introducing the four questions gives participants a sense of how the curriculum is organized.

You might want to have the questions on a wall chart. Then talk a little about what people might need to know to answer these questions. Then review the Table of Contents to give a sense of how Lessons and Activities fit under each question. Explain that the group will be taking part in activities from the curriculum during the training.

10:40 Who am I? What am I good at?

The group does Activity 9, filling in the activity sheet and sharing in small groups. Then in the large group discuss, "How would this work in your class?"

The activities in this section give the student opportunities to understand and document their needs, interests, values, skills and experiences. Doing this activity as part of training helps the group to focus on their own abilities and begin to understand the structure and approach of Getting There.

Facilitate this activity as much as possible like you would in a class. Give each person an activity sheet to work on. Ask them to share what they have written in a small group. Then reconvene the large group as teachers and discuss with them how they can see using this activity in their classroom. Keep track in notes or on newsprint of any unanswered concerns or questions.

11:00 What's out there? Cautionary signs

Activity 26. Distribute Scenario 1 and ask for a volunteer to read. Discuss. Then give pairs of participants pages from classified ads and ask them to find a questionable ad. Then in the large group discuss the activity and ask how they might expand on this activity in their classes.

This activity is not a central one to this section (What's out there?), but it is easy to do in a training situation and it raises some of the issues students face.

In the discussion that follows you may want to be sure the participants understand that much of this section involves participatory research that may take place outside the classroom. You might want to look at page 23 together.

11:30 Lunch

12:30 What's the work world like? How do people get jobs?

Activities 27 and 28. Begin by asking "What do people need to do to find a job?" List answers on newsprint. Then have people interview each other in groups of five using Activity Sheet 28. Process with the whole group by mentioning Activity 29 and ask "Where there any difference between the lists in Activities 27 and 28?"

These activities from Section 3 ask people to look at the realities of getting a job, both typical and more unusual. You may also want to discuss what issues might arise in classes in areas where jobs are scarce and how a group might deal with them.

1:15 Features of the Getting There curriculum

Divide into seven small groups. Assign each group one of the sections in "To the Teacher," pages 5 - 8. Ask the group to take 10 minutes and read the section and prepare to give a brief summary to the whole group. After 10-15 minutes come back to the whole group and go from group to group for reports. After each report ask for concerns or questions and record on newsprint. Take about 15 minutes after all reports are done to look at the questions and solicit possible answers, suggestions, and offer any that you have.

This is an important piece of the training. Because some of the way Getting There is structured may be unfamiliar to teachers, it is important for people to have the opportunity to express their concerns. As a trainer, it is important to acknowledge their concerns and make clear that you don't have all the answers.

By soliciting responses from the group (of which you ar a member) you help build the expectation that teachers can look to themselves and each other for help. Just as we want students to draw on their own resources and find the answers that work for them, we hope teachers will build on what they know and recognize that every situation is different. Teachers will need to adapt this or any curriculum to fit their class and program. Some issues to cover in this discussion include integrating basic skills instruction into this work, teacher preparation, participatory research, and the use of community mentors. You will probably want to note suggestions on newsprint, both validating teacher knowledge and providing an example.

2:00 Break

2:15 Getting from here to there: Cultural attitudes

Introduce the idea of cultural attitudes that may affect the workplace and the possible need for people to change their behaviors. List three (hunting, not wanting to move, and a woman's place) and ask for additions. Discuss the list using the questions in Activity 48. Then process the activity by asking, "How would this work in your class?"

This activity helps students and in the training, teachers, think about the ways cultural expectations can interfere with work.

It is important to avoid a deficit approach to this topic. We are saying that people's expectations and understandings of how life should be lived may not correspond with the expectations of the workplace. We are NOT saying that either is wrong or better, only that they are different. Each person must decide what they are willing to give up in order to work in a particular job. In the discussion of this section, try to get the group to focus on their own work lives, decisions they have made, e.g. to teach because they value time with their own families in the summer or to make a lower salary in order to remain in a rural area. It is important to encourage teachers to recognize and examine their own cultural attitudes and not just focus on those of their students.

3:00 Connecting to skills

Refer back to the basic skills and underlying skills discussed on pages 6 and 7. Be sure everyone is clear on the meaning. Then divide into small groups and ask each group to read an assigned activity, discuss the underlying skills used in this activity, and then develop another connected activity to practice one or more basic skills and prepare for the GED test.

After 20 minutes have each group report back by describing the activity and then the basic skills activity they have developed.

This activity helps participants tie the Getting There curriculum into the work they are already doing. You will want to assign an activity to each group. Choose activities that have not already been discussed that you think might be of particular interest to your group.

3:40 Wrap-up and Evaluation

Ask for any comments or questions then conduct an evaluation by asking:

The wrap-up and evaluation should give people a chance to share anything they need to express and give you feed-back for use in planning another training. Use whatever evaluation method you are most comfortable with.

Return to the Center for Literacy Studies