Friday, November 18, 2016

Meet the New Teachers, Part 3

Today meet Patrick Russell, Eric Sutherland and Jordan Van Horn.







Patrick Russell, TREP, level 6/7


What has been your most challenging teaching experience?
My most challenging teaching experiences was teaching 3 year olds in Taiwan. It was like herding cats. Those kids literally and figuratively ran all over me.
What has been your funniest teaching moment?
I like a light and fun atmosphere in the classroom and I love to kid and joke with my students. I also appreciate my students’ humor even if it means I become the butt of the joke. Once, I had split the students into groups for a timed activity. I set the timer on my iPhone and absentmindedly left the alarm on the “bark” sound effect. After 5 minutes, when my phone started to bark like a dog, I had one witty student speak up to say, “Who is calling you? Your girlfriend?” Of course this student failed the activity;-)

How do your personal interests/passions inform your teaching?
I find linguistics fascinating so it’s quite easy for me to find content and materials on this subject. While I do have some lessons on topics I’m passionate about such as art, I would rather my students personal interests and passions inform my teaching. Therefore, at the start of a semester I have students fill out a learner profile that not only asks about their language skills and learning styles and preferences, but also about their personal interests. Then I keep these in mind as I’m surfing the internet or reading and experiencing different things outside of class. I also ask students to bring in materials that they find interesting and would like to work with.
What are your favorite instructional technology tools?
I’m a big fan of www.wordandphrase.info. I love supercut videos like this - https://vimeo.com/73343064. I also rely heavily on http://www.engvid.com/ to flip my classroom.
What’s your preferred teaching footwear?
I like sneakers because I’m constantly jumping out of my seat and circling the classroom. I’m also very physical in front of the class. Plus, I like to stealthily roam the class during quizzes and exams.
What has been your most rewarding teaching experience?
There is no one experience. I love it when my students come back to me after they’ve taken my class to tell me of their successes. I love to hear about their life experiences that they choose to share in the classroom, some of which have moved me to tears, either because they were so funny or so poignant. I guess I like how teaching ESL is like traveling to several different countries and experiencing several different cultures without ever leaving the classroom.




Eric Sutherland, DIP AM, level 9/10 Writing and CAT-W

What has been your most challenging teaching experience?
My most challenging teaching experience involved teaching a class of advanced students how to write a short research paper from start to finish. It was challenging to divide the process into manageable segments and meet the deadlines for the semester.
How do your personal interests/passions inform your teaching?
Since I am interested in second language composition, my writing courses are informed by that knowledge. I am a big fan of the process genre writing model. We have been using this frequently in class this session. I hope that with continued exposure to and study of the various writing genres and through the complete process of writing (planning, writing, editing/revisions) that students will become more comfortable writing expository essays.
What are your favorite instructional technology tools?
I am pretty old-fashioned when it comes to technology. I did learn how to use SmartBoards at my last teaching position, and I actually ended up enjoying them because they were so convenient. I use the projector a fair amount too because it is more efficient when the class is co-constructing different parts of the essay.
What’s your preferred teaching footwear?
My favorite footwear when teaching is LL Bean slip-on moccasins. They are very comfortable and I can put them on quickly when heading out the door to the subway in the morning.



Jordan Van Horn, STEP, level 4a

What has been your most challenging teaching experience?
One of the most challenging experiences as an ESL instructor is working with multilevel groups in the classroom. Managing a class of adult students who vary tremendously in their ability to read, write, listen, and speak calls me to make constant adjustments and rapid decisions in my classroom. As a new teacher, careful planning, reflection, and experience will better help me in this challenge.
What has been your funniest teaching moment?
There are so many! Recently I was teaching students the parts of a webpage and how to navigate pages online. I was reviewing the term, "menu" (as in navigational menu) and a student, completely puzzled, asked, "how do I order food"?
How do your personal interests/passions inform your teaching?
My background in cognitive psychology and the neuroscience of learning has deeply shaped my teaching philosophy and practice. I am endlessly fascinated by how students learn and the strategies they use to direct their own learning. I use many of proven principles in learning science, such as capitalizing on students' previous knowledge, anchoring activities in real life experiences, encouraging students to adopt a growth oriented mindset in learning, and having students regulate their own learning in my own teaching.
What are your favorite instructional technology tools?
I think that technology is a powerful resource in the ESL classroom. For this reason, I use it all the time! I create a class blog for each of my classes as a way of helping students synthesize class information and reflect on material from previous classes. One of my favorite tools for speaking is Google Voice. Each week in my classes, I ask my students a question and instruct them to leave a voicemail on my Google Voice number. This is a great way to help individual students overcome errors in pronunciation, intonation, rhythm, and stress.
What’s your preferred teaching footwear?
Cowboy boots.
What has been your most rewarding teaching experience?
Witnessing my students' growth at the end of the semester, not just in specific language skills, but also their emotional and social growth.
What funny mistakes have you made while learning a foreign language?
I was listening to a woman on the bus speaking in Spanish about how much she loved "muñecas". I only knew that "muñecas" meant "wrists". I didn't realize that the word also meant "dolls". I left the bus because I thought she was a serial killer.

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