TEACHERS & TEACHING COMPETENCY
Reflective Teaching and Experiential Learning
In this essay, I describe what defines me as a teacher: how I strive to enable others to exceed their expectations, and to exceed my own expectations; my difficulties in teaching and experiential learning; and my personal reflections on all.
From my letter in AE, I selected some lines which give you an idea of where my love of language, and experience in teaching, began. Through my initial exposure to Latin in primary school, I came to understand the beauty of language in an academic way, and to see how it could be used as a creative tool. I had been exposed to an extensive library at home, and had always loved reading. From that point onward, I played with English, often making up my own words, and then created a pseudo-language called, “Obeedobee.”*
In my essay on CLL, (1_AP), I describe my discovery of how my lack of "perceived" presence by the student; i.e., by being behind the student, not having the student watch my expression as I helped them, freed them from assuming I had expectations. They were open to a free exploration of the lesson. In the AP class, we experimented both with a transcript, and without. Because of our high level of literacy, we were able to easily connect sound and transcript, and progressed more quickly with it. Before that lesson, I had never been exposed to anything but 'full, frontal view' in my own language classes. The efficacy of CLL was a surprise, and I have put it into my teaching repertoire.
The quote is from 2_AP. Hugh Birdsall came to our class to demonstrate (thanks again, Hugh!) Gattegno's ** method of language teaching and learning. To show us how it worked, he selected students from our class whose L1 was not English. I thought, "How simplistic. Their English is so good, how can using them to clarify the power of SW be productive?" How wrong I was! SW offers
a way to make minute adjustments as the student's perception increases and changes. Our participating classmates were even more amazed. They discovered subtleties in English they had not realized were there. Hugh used Cuisenaire rods as props to symbolize elements of English usage.
In SW, the teacher must be able to observe the students' needs, and the students must be open to making their own discoveries. I liked the abstraction of the rods but, for myself, as an L1 English speaker, not the use of color charts as precision tools to represent sounds (a chart is inserted below). *** I found them confusing. They seemed too inexact for accurate representation. I can see them useful as mentioned in the quote below.
In 3_AP, I have reflected on an exercise we did with our peers, as an important element of the course. We were to select a word we thought highly charged for our participants; then design questions to help them come to terms with the emotions it aroused. Each of my peers had had experienced extreme stress associated with the word, "foreigner."
My Approaches class was particularly meaningful for me. It was here that I learned specific ways to help my students see the power language affords.
* Obeedobee instruction manual
Place the syllable “ob" * before the vowel at the beginning of each syllable in a word.
E.g., the English word, "today," would be "tobodobay," in Obeedobee.
** Caleb Gattegno, (1911 - 1988).
*** The charts he designed to represent phonemes in English.