When I first started out as a teacher, I was terrified, as I’m sure anyone would be. I had always wanted to be a teacher, but the way I’d imagined the experience wasn’t exactly how it turned out to be.
I’ve worked in after-school programs teaching English as a Second Language and I’ve been a substitute teacher, but when I got my first college teaching job, it was intimidating to say the least. I was going to teach adults in a more formal environment, and that word, “adults,” had always scared me because although I was a 22-year-old adult at the time, most of my students were older than I was!
Stress! As an educator I feel it. Meeting tight deadlines, converting to online learning due to COVID-19, finding appropriate learning resources, marking assignments, and addressing student needs can contribute to my stress levels.
In these strange and isolating times, many ESL instructors have navigated a truly steep learning curve of technical knowledge to teach online. Whether your online class looks the way you want it to or not, I applaud your efforts. I bet learners in your class are also very thankful for you!
Some of you might know that April is national poetry month.
The theme this year is A World of Poetry. What a great opportunity to
create poetry with your online class! Below are some resources and ideas to get
you on your way.
Since Extensive Reading (ER) is a crucial part of language
learning, I have compiled some important ER resources to help you promote ER in
your classroom. ER can build learners’ confidence, enjoyment and autonomy.
At the recent TESL Toronto’s T4T mini conference at York University, I was inspired to take 4C integration into my instruction to a new level. Specifically, I was spurred on by James Papple and Tabitha Lewis’s session called Connections to Learning through Makerspaces. They provided a myriad of potential activities that extend and enhance learning beyond what is expected in a language learning class. Tabitha and Jim highlighted resources that are available through the Brock University’s Makerspace room.
In Brock’s Makerspace, learning
opportunities include tools to create high quality audio, shoot and edit digital
video, create and edit images, print 3D models, create moving LEGO structures,
scan objects into digital 3D models, cut materials with lasers, interact with virtual
reality, record video against a green screen, control a Sphere ball with a
smartphone app, build robots, paint 3D objects, and more.
One way to promote student engagement is by providing students with real-world hands-on learning experiences. An excellent way to do this is through student-produced video projects.
In 2008, Mary Anne Peters, Julianne Burgess, Elizabeth Sadler, and Zachary Arlow created the LINC for Youth Photography Project and LINC for Youth Video Project at Mohawk College to help newcomer youth learn English in a collaborative environment. The foundation of these unique classes is grounded in multiliteracies theory, youth culture, and technology. At the College, I teach in LINC Youth Video Project (LYVP) with my teaching partner, Emily Imbrogno, and media technician, Zachary Arlow. LYVP is targeted to newcomers ages 18-25, with Canadian Language Benchmarks 4-5. LYVP has students create video projects on topics connected to newcomer youth experiences and interests.
I’m looking forward to the summer
months. Even though there’s still snow on the ground, I recall my adventures teaching
ESL at a children’s summer camp. I learned a lot, as I do every year. I enjoyed
adapting existing material and creating my own instead of working strictly from
a textbook. It was challenging and time consuming, but I would argue better, more
student-centered, and fun.