An Enlightening Experience
It is really complicated to explain in words the satisfaction I feel and the changes that have occurred during my studies for my Professional Master of Education both on a personal and professional level. The overall experience was enlightening for me. My sister has recently asked me what the most meaningful parts of this process were for me. This is a complex question, for there were so many aspects worth mentioning; for instance, it is remarkable what I have learned from professors and peers and how much the courses I took have helped me honed my knowledge and skills all the while deepening my awareness and understanding. It is, however, my new found awareness that helped me overall because it has changed the essence of my teaching philosophy. In creating my philosophy statement, one of my professors helped me focus on specific areas and pillars of education. The result was a deliberate pondering of ideas and concepts and a profound reflection on what language learning is, is expected to be, and could be. I realized that teaching English for Academic Purposes is so much more than language acquisition.
Innovation: Always a Good Way to Start!
First of all, I wanted to give my philosophy a vision of innovation in teaching and learning. Innovation in teaching and learning requires a long-term commitment based on trial and error, open mindedness, empowerment of all parties involved, and a deep care for the world. The end results of innovation in education should be personal and communal growth with focus on the greater good. It is not enough to just teach the language; as educators, we need to strive to educate our students in becoming caring and responsible people.
Historical and Philosophical Grounds in ESL? Yes, It Is Possible!
Next, I believe in giving my teaching historical and philosophical grounds. I know you are probably thinking, “What place do History and Philosophy have in our ESL classrooms?” Let me explain. In order to actualize our teaching effectively, an understanding of the past is necessary to learn from past mistakes and improve upon past success; awareness of historical events in education is also paramount to decide of which elements to let go to make room for new creations, ideas, and values. A complete historical picture could guide our mission to be current and avoid out-of-date practices. Also, expose our international students to current events could help in motivating students in getting involved in the community at large.
When I speak of grounding my statement philosophically, I mean adopting philosophical mindedness in my practice: i.e. I should keep an inquisitive and contemplative mind, display love of knowledge and wisdom to share with colleagues, superiors, and students. I also think that being philosophical minded involves promoting and achieving interdisciplinary teaching and learning because innovation can only come for knowing the bigger picture. Cross- curricular activities and theories should be developed with students and colleagues’ input: Implementation of new curriculum frameworks should be pursued to cater to as many students as possible.
Connecting to a Larger Community: Let’s Care!
Finally, I reckon that my teaching view and philosophy should strive to be sensitive to public purposes. Teachers should build upon students’ strengths, knowledge, and curiosity and foster hope about the future and awareness about the present; a concept of community should be fostered in our classrooms, so students can be given an opportunity to be part of something bigger and larger than a classroom.
I am extremely grateful for having had the opportunity and the privilege to go back to school and I believe that to help shape minds that are empathetic and caring towards self, others, and the world in general should become an integral part of teaching English as a Second Language. I now see that we are so much more than language instructors: We are educators!
Daniela Greco-Giancola, PME, CERTESL has been working in the field of English for Academic Purposes since 2010 and holds a degree in English and German from University of Urbino, in Italy, a Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language from Saskatchewan University, and a Professional Master of Education from Queen’s University.
Daniela believes in innovation, care, and community in both teaching and learning and aims to help students to be the best version of themselves they can possibly be!