Professional Development Workshops

Championing the front line in Adult Basic Education.

At First Literacy we know that supporting the front line in Adult Basic Education (ABE) helps ensure that adult learners receive the high-quality education they need to reach their full potential.

First Literacy professional development workshops provide free, evidence-based training and materials for Adult Basic Education teachers, program administrators, and counselors of adult literacy programs across Massachusetts. We know that professional development isn’t one-size-fits-all. That’s why we tailor each workshop to the unique needs of our participants by soliciting educator input at registration. Because we don’t rely on federal funding, we are able to adapt our workshop topics based on educator requests, not public mandates.

In addition to our free workshops, we provide a library of online resources that can be accessed at any time. We offer ready-to-use lesson plans, worksheets, tools, and First Literacy Grant project presentations. All resources can be adapted and incorporated into your own classes.

To be notified of upcoming workshops, be sure to sign up for our mailing list! For more information about our workshops or resources feel free to contact Bryan McCormick at

Register for Workshops

Thanks to our hybrid classroom technology all workshops are offered both in person and online via Zoom. 

First Literacy is located at 160 Boylston Street, Boston (ACROSS from Boston Common, NOT in Jamaica Plain). We hope you will come in to see us, and to learn and catch up with your colleagues in person.

When registration is open, titles will be active links in blue to click, learn more and register!


High School Equivalency (HSE) Test Changes In Massachusetts

Presenter: Michael Farma
Friday, September 29, 2023 (hybrid)
1:00 – 3:00 PM


This workshop will cover policy changes to the HSE exams in Massachusetts and compare the GED and HiSET exams. The workshop will also include strategies to help students pass the exams with higher scores.


Less is More: Running an Efficient Classroom

Presenter: Alex Babbist  
Wednesday, October 4, 2023 (hybrid)
2:00 – 4:00 PM
Wednesday, October 18, 2023 (online only via Zoom)
2:00 – 3:00 PM


In this workshop, participants will explore classroom routines and tools to simplify both their workload and their learners’ experience. By drawing on the Montessori concept of the “prepared environment”, teachers can create a classroom flow that encourages learner independence and ownership while also more easily addressing the range of levels and learning needs the adult learner brings to the classroom. Participants will come away with practical ideas for both the ESOL and Adult Basic Education classroom. 

Tutor Training Intensive

Presenter: Judithann Walz
Friday, October 13, 2023 (in person)
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Friday, October 20, 2023 (in person)
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM


The Tutor Training Intensive will provide tutors and volunteers skills to assist teachers in classrooms both virtual and in-person. The participants will gain new strategies to help students become more confident and skillful. Objectives include developing an understanding of the learning process and implementing new strategies for effective working relationships with teachers and students.  Participants will have continued coaching upon successful completion of class.

Secrets for Success in the First Few Years Teaching ESL 

Presenter: Debbie Centamore 
Wednesday, October 25, 2023 (hybrid)
1:00 – 3:00 PM
Wednesday, November 15, 2023 (hybrid)
1:00 – 3:00 PM


This workshop will share all the secrets for teachers new to the adult ESL classroom. The workshop will discuss how to reach students in one class, even though they have different levels of English. Participants will also come away with tricks to teaching pronunciation, and how to ensure teacher immediacy and increased student engagement. There will also be plenty of time to touch on questions and concerns that participants have.

From Novices to Navigators: Cultivating Agency in Beginning English Language Learners

Presenter: Sarah Lynn 
Friday, October 27, 2023 (hybrid)
1:00 – 4:00 PM


Many of our beginning level English learners are new to classroom learning. In this three-hour practice-oriented workshop we will explore simple tools, activities, routines, and classroom systems to develop our students’ “learning-to-learn” skills, so they may become more effective, confident, and self-directed learners in class and beyond.


Going To Work: Unlocking Job Readiness Skills In Your Adult Basic Education Classroom

Presenter: Kelly Folsom
Wednesday, November 8, 2023 (hybrid)
1:00 – 4:00 PM


Employers often cite “soft skills” (job readiness) as the most important barrier to employment at any level. Job readiness courses empower low-income, lower-skilled populations to take control of their lives by helping them to better understand employer expectations, teaching time, conflict and stress management, and developing higher self-esteem among students. In this highly interactive workshop, we will practice activities and use tools that can help students develop job readiness skills in any Adult Basic Education classroom.


Grant Writing for Adult Basic Education

Presenter: Barbara Garner and Amy Letteney
Friday, December 1, 2023 (hybrid)
1:00 – 3:00 PM
Wednesday, December 13, 2023 (hybrid)
1:00 – 3:00 PM


Interested in raising funds for a project but not sure how to? Tired of submitting proposals and getting turned down?  In this workshop you’ll examine the overall proposal process and learn how to identify appropriate funders and write persuasive proposals.

Teaching to the Test: A Practical Guide to Prepare Immigrants and Refugees for the Citizenship Interview

Presenter: Andy Koppel
Friday, December 8, 2023 (hybrid)
1:00 – 4:00 PM


This workshop will highlight the information most relevant to preparing immigrants and refugees for citizenship interviews. The workshop will include sections on background, general methodology, specific methodology, and practice interview customization. Examples will also be shared from more than six years of experience. The workshop will conclude with a simulated in-person interview with a recent student from The Immigrant Learning Center.

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