Archive for March, 2018

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Importance of Critical Reflection

Tamara Jones is an ESL Instructor at Howard Community College, Columbia, Maryland

Last week, I taught a class that was a bit of a train wreck.

This semester, every Monday and Wednesday morning, I teach an ESL class of Pre-beginners. I have 14 wonderful students who speak very limited English. They come from all over the world – Iran, China, Syria, El Salvador, Guatemala, Korea and Venezuela – and range in age from 17 to 76. They are truly the most lovely group of students a teacher could ever hope for, and I really enjoy being in the classroom with them.

However, teaching this very (very, very) beginning level is somewhat of a new challenge for me. (My teaching sweet-spot is really high intermediate level classes.) Fall 2017 was my first semester teaching a class of zero-English speakers. This spring, I am teaching the class again, but the “B” section, which means even though it’s the same class, I am using a different text book. So, I am in the middle of another semester of new prep and another semester of wrestling with materials that are not quite low enough in level. (I suspect the experienced teachers out there know exactly what I’m talking about!) This is all to say that this class is somewhat new for me, and there are bound to be hiccups along the way.

The Worst Wednesday Morning Ever

Well, last Wednesday was one gigantic hiccup. The book work was a bit dry and I didn’t create as many opportunities for interaction as I should have done. Also, the students appeared to know their numbers (a change from the class last semester), so I quickly decided to ditch a number review I had planned and leapt right into the collaborative writing activity that was next on my “practice” list. The plan was to give

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