ATTITUDE Sub-competency

Willingness to Change my Teaching

  anonymous web image

anonymous web image

IN_Email to regular teacher for my class
1_AP_ Notes from Marti; final notes from Marti
2_AP_Reflections on Participatory Approach

Through comprehensible communication; through revelatory imagery; and though overt, empathic emotional connection, we can use what are now performing as tools of war (advertising, visual and auditory propoganda, mis and dis-information, the promulgation of idiocy through an inculcation of fear by government through mass media …), to be transports to understanding, acceptance, and ultimately to some kind of world civility and respect.

My students drive my teaching. I do not believe in fossilization, as discussed by many in the
TESOL profession. People learn what they want to learn. If a student lies on a plateau, they lack
a reason to make that climb. It is my job to find the key to spur them onward. There is no set path
to effective teaching. I do not teach to the student, but seek how the student needs to learn. To me,
it is analogous to interpretive dance. I move, the student moves in concert; the student moves,
I move. Incorporating communicative forms of all media, builds experiential learning to
language competence. 

My first document (IN_Email), is a description of a class I gave during my internship. The staff teacher at Ascentria was very helpful and we communicated frequently. I would describe what
I had done in a class, so that she could pick up from there, and she would do the same for me.

Almost everybody in the morning class could tell me their street address and city.

We did more of what I did last week, but I developed it more and had them create more. I printed out minimal pair words for the pronunciation and gave them sheets to take home to practice. They were able to complete words themselves from the sheet to the board…I wrote days of the week in a mixed up pattern and had them individually race up to point out the day I called.

We practiced pronunciation of the difficult sounds. I helped them write their names again and their addresses. I did not ask them to write where they are from but where they live now.
— from IN_Email, France Menk

The second (1_AP), is linked to give you a window into some of my more abstract thinking about teaching. In 2_AP, I describe what was new to me along my road to self-knowledge and more effective teaching.

Using the ideas from search and rescue were also intriguing to me; the notion of the inner world of the searcher and the emotional possibility of not finding — there is something very powerful in that thought! I also agree that “not learning” is not really an option in teaching and learning environments. But, how do we make sure that learning is AS effective and pain-free as possible?
— from 1_AP, Marti Anderson

Before I came to SIT, I was baffled when students could not understand my teaching.
I blindly charged ahead, oblivious to their needs. At times, I felt non-plussed. In one instance - mentioned elsewhere in this portfolio - I dropped out of the teaching position because I did
not know how to connect with the student.

With my internship classes, after having experienced so many approaches in lessons at SIT, I gained a level of confidence in my assessment of students' needs. When I saw beginning students start to get that glaze of incomprehension, I boldly changed my technique. One example of scaffolding in vocabulary acquisition -  such as names of animals - is to draw the animal and do my best to mimic its voice. Proof of success lay in my students defining words they chose for their minimal pairs, by using the same method. You may imagine the fun we had when my burly students would meow like a cat and bark like a dog as they stooped down to imitate petting an animal.


I embedded conceptual words with a participatory approach (2_AP), using the students themselves as representatives. To illustrate behind, in front of, alongside, etc., I had the students enact placement, changing places, and asked them to define each position as they took part. With these very beginning students, I used our model of experiential learning as the most effective tool for them
to embed their lessons.

Important elements of the PA for me: That it provides a gentle way to introduce lexical, pragmatic, and grammar aspects of the language on any level.

How the importance of PA will affect my own approach: I will spend more time observing my students’ personalities as well as the context in which I am teaching and in which they live.
— from 2_AP, France Menk

When I tutored a highly educated student, whose L1 was English, but who needed help to break through a writer’s block, I used a completely different method. He was a composer, and I showed him analogies from his music composition approach to essay writing.

Before SIT, where I would have been bold, I would have been reckless in my efforts to help my students. I can now be bold, but with direction backed by all I have learned.

There are many socio-cultural and economic experiences of students that need to be considered when creating teaching approaches. Many beginning students in this country have suffered psychological - and in some cases, physical - trauma. These students need to see personal connections between their life and the target language; to be relieved of as much stress as possible
in class, and to feel included in its community. Humor, physical activity, full participation in lessons by everyone, can mitigate filters. There will be multiple intelligences in every class. These can create feelings of separation from others and isolation of mind. By designing a community in my internship classes, which made all students feel included, I saw their personal growth in
language acquisition and cultural adaptation enhanced.