Monday, March 28, 2011

Sharing My Life Story for a Presentation for ESL Teachers

It's always nice to share face to face parts of my life story than just writing about it in this blog.

Last Saturday, I gave a two hour presentation on "Teaching differentiated writing strategies to ESL students in the mainstream" to a group of English/ESL teachers at CCAC -Allegheny Campus.

It was the kind of intimately workshop where you'd feel comfortable in your own shoes presenting to teachers you had already known and a campus you had taught at for a few years.

However, I never make the assumption that teachers know who I am just because I teach ESL or just from a casual conversation in the hallway. I believe in the power of sharing life stories, both as a learner and as a teacher. So I started my presentation with an anecdote about about how, I felt like an outsider for many years in Israel. There is an outsider in every one of us and if we want, we can find those life stories and I have found that ESL students connect best to those kinds of stories.

I told my students from the point of serving in the army where officers would laugh at my American accent and how I struggled to teach EFL (English as a foreign language) 4th graders in the development town of Afula despite their agressive and direct personalities.

It is so easy to teach from an "autopilot" hat and forget the life lessons of perserverance and patience that these stories can teach us and others. You don't have to have experience living in another country;

I read a snippet of my story, "Taking Charge of the Cultural Classroom," from the book of anthologies, My First Year in the Classroom (Adams Media) that showed how I tried to get the attention of my Israeli students.

In short, anything we can do to bring participants closer to feeling "their pain" is always a good thing.

1 comment:

  1. Connecting with students, particularly adult learners, on a personal level is very valuable. We always learn more when we feel something for the teacher. Thanks for sharing your courage with those of us who might feel reticent about appearing "too human." And I love your Writing Tip of the Day. It's exactly what I have been telling my students.
    Jacqueline Jules