Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How I got here

I have lived abroad, studied abroad, taught abroad, and traveled abroad. These experiences have allowed me to discover my passion for teaching and encouraged me to continue developing this passion. I am idealistic, naive and yet realistic.

I don’t think I will change the world, but I hope that one day I will teach someone who will.

While studying Communications at San Diego State University I had the opportunity to study abroad three times. My sophomore year I studied communications through Nanyang Technological University and had the opportunity to backpack through Asia. I later completed my minor in Spanish in Madrid, Spain through Nebrija Universidad and was able to take a Women's Study course (Women in International Development)in Turkey at Bogazici University that Summer.
At a lantern festival in Singapore

Next to the "Traveler's Palm" in the Royal Botanical Graden
My last semester at San Diego State (after I returned from Spain and Turkey) I had the opportunity to work with AVID students and Monte Vista High School. AVID is a fantastic program that targets students who wouldn't normally go to college (B, C, and even D students) but have the desire to do so. They are usually students who would be the first in their families to attend college, and most are from low-income or minority families. AVID has a great track record when it comes to bringing students up to their full potential and I enjoyed being part of it.
Monte Vista AVID woot!
This was a new age group for me as my previous teaching experience (swim and private tutoring) was always with younger children. It was here I realized that while I enjoy having fun with my students, I am predominately a "strict" teacher. Though the students and I could have fun on occasions, I was the only tutor who would be given groups which had to discuss sex (be it in biology, English, history, or anatomy). This is because none of the other tutors could strike a balance between treating the students as adults, while still holding them accountable as students. As the only one who could keep the students focused, the dangerous topics or rowdy groups were always assigned to me as I could handle them.

After graduating from San Diego State University I got a job teaching English through the the Gyeonggi English Program in Korea (GEPIK) in Korea. It was a great segway into the teaching world. It also helped me as I now have experience with difference age groups as well as in different cultures. I am aware of the need to change teaching techniques appropriately depending on the students. This combined with my motivation to help students reach their highest potential helps me recognize that no two students are the same and that lessons must be planned to include opportunity for different types of learners to flourish. Most of all, Korea made me realize how much more I needed to know.
My Korean students during Summer Camp

After I completed my contract I took time to return to Spain and walk from Salamanca to Santiago de Compestela. On the walk I realized that teaching is definitely the direction I want to go in my life, and that while I could learn a lot by teaching another year in Korea, I needed to gain more education in order to be a more efficient teacher.
My shadow and me walking the Camino

I ended up in The Netherlands to take a certificate in teaching English course (CELTA) through the British Language Teaching Center in Amsterdam (I aupaired while there to afford the expenses). After completing the course and receiving my certificate I became fascinated with the different ways to teach.
So, I applied for the "Teach and Learn" program through the Insitituto Univesitario de Investigación en Estudios Norteamerianos Benjamin Franklin (Instituto Fanklin) of the Universidad de Alcalá. This is a fantastic program my friend did last year. It allows me to take a paid internship at a primary school (in my case Colegio Europeo Aristos in Getafé) while taking courses to obtain my Masters in Bilingual and Multicultural Education. In addition to receiving some money each month the tuition and insurance are included! I am really excited about this opportunity and I hope to gain a stronger understanding of the theories behind didactic strategies in addition to how to best implement these in the classroom and my planning.

In order to get the student visa I need to return home for two months. Rather than twiddle my thumbs I looked for a temporary job in the education field. I got very lucky; International House San Diego was looking for an ESL teacher for a bit in July! International House is a well known school worldwide (over 140 schools in more than 47 countries) and I am very excited for the chance to work with them this Summer. The program is with 11-17 year olds from different countries who come to San Diego to enjoy the Summer and learn English!

(Flash forward to 2011-2013: I am teaching in Mexico)

After teaching in Mexico, I moved back to San Diego and found a great job teaching English Literature to ESL students in San Diego.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Questions to ask when choosing activites/books/other supplementary materials?

When I took my CELTA one thing we reviewed was things to consider when choosing supplementary materials. Here's the list of questions we came up with

  • Can you adapt it to a different level?
    Things to keep in mind when choosing what to add
  • Is it student or student friendly?
  • Is it culturally sensitive?
  • Can I legally photocopy it?
  • What skill does it highlight?
  • Does it add to the lesson?
  • Is it in the budget?
  • Is it useful in real life?
  • What logistic do you need to arrange?
  • How much time shall it take?
  • Is it interesting?
  • Will it challenge the students?

What questions  do you ask when choosing activities?
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