Monday, March 25, 2013

TESOL 2013: A first timer's experience

I attended my *first* TESOL conference this year.  I learned a lot about attending a conference on this scale.
My colleague, Sarah Snyder, discussing our poster with an attendee

 Here are some things that I would do again:
  • poster presentation
  • volunteer at a PCI
  • gave out business cards
  • had a few copies of my resume
  • scheduled interviews
  • made an attempt at networking 
  • brought business casual clothing
  • stayed relaxed about travel plans—changes happen
  • brought protein bars
  • drank Starbucks (part of "the lifestyle")
Here are things I want to do next time:
  • stay downtown
  • sleep more
  • aim for 3-4 sessions a day
  • attend/volunteer at more PCIs
  • go to an interest section meeting
  • no laptop--too heavy
  • journal more
Overall, a great experience for a job-seeking grad student who is invested in this field. There were so many interesting people and presentations. Glad I could be a part of TESOL 2013.

Skype Presentation for CALL Class

I gave this short presentation on March 25, 2013 in Computer Assisted Langauge Learning class. The topic is Skype.

Link to the Google Presentation here:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Philosophy of Teaching

I am a language teacher, and an English as a second or foreign language teacher specifically. My philosophy of teaching is based on current trends in TESL methodology, as well as my personal beliefs about leadership and teaching. I believe that as a teacher, meeting students' needs is my top priority.

To begin, I believe that students should have as many chances as possible to encounter and use language in the classroom. Whereas traditional methodologies have teachers as the center of the classroom, I strive to create student-centered classrooms in which students maximize English use with classmates. In addition to being student-centered, my classroom exemplifies the ideals of communicative language teaching (e.g., interaction and focus on meaning) through activities in which students are required to use English to complete activities and tasks. It is important to me that these activities and tasks are relevant and useful for students, as well as somewhat authentic to the situations that students will face outside of the classroom. I design tasks with clear goals in mind, and I make directions as clear as possible to help students be successful.

Current trends in the TESOL field, as well as theories of language acquisition are also important to my teaching philosophy. Gass and Mackey’s (2007) interaction hypothesis informs my teaching in that I seek out ways to increase interaction in my classroom because I believe that it fosters language learning. Feedback is one of the teacher’s most powerful tools. I believe that as a teacher, I should praise students for good contributions and be cautious, yet honest, when correcting students. While I think that developmental sequences, as proposed by Krashen and others, are useful in thinking about what is teachable, it’s clear that many variables affect language learning, not the least of which are individual differences, such as aptitude and affective factors. My teaching philosophy considers the complete learner as a human being and tries to meet the many and various needs that students have.

I believe that curriculum is a program-wide philosophy of teaching and learning that provides a framework for all teachers and administrators to help students work toward goals. Deciding how to best meet course objectives and how to test whether students were meeting the objectives is an important part of my role as a teacher. In the same vein, reliable, practical and valid assessment practices are critical for student success. Selecting and developing assessments is a vital role for all teachers.

In addition to my philosophy as it relates to the classroom, I believe that it is important for teachers to connect with students. Getting students involved in extracurricular activities contributes to overall positive morale at an institution. Students gain a sense of belonging from these types of groups that they simply don't get in a regular classroom. Especially when teachers and students are involved in the same extracurricular activities, a unique sense of camaraderie and trust is formed. I think that building these connections is crucial for long-term student and program success.

Overall, my philosophy of teaching is influenced by the education I received at Northern Arizona University during my MA-TESL studies, as well as the experiences that I have had working in differing teaching contexts. Meeting the needs of my students through careful daily planning, attention to the bigger picture, and giving students the opportunity to belong guide my decisions as a teacher.