TEACHERS & TEACHING COMPETENCY
Willingness to Change my Teaching
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
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.
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.
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.
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.