Sunday, September 26, 2010

Starting Autumn quarter 2010

Along with all the other challenges of beginning Autumn quarter, I had to replace SEVEN good-to-great instructors -- some just for this term, some for longer.
One had a family business emergency (will be out only this term, or so we hope).
Two found a full-time job for the duration of the school year.
One found a full-time job for at least this quarter.
One moved with her husband as he starts his PhD program in Toledo.
One is starting a PhD program at Kent State.
One called Friday morning (9/24 -- and the Basic English term starts Monday 9/27) to let me know she had found out Thursday evening that she'll have to have back surgery within 2 weeks.
Our term starts tomorrow. I think we’re ready to go.
I hope so, because at 8:00 a.m., we’ll be going, whether we’re ready or not.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

From the Autumn 2010 Welcome Back table

Confused-looking student: “What level is 355 on?”
Us: “Third floor.”
Confused-looking student (pointing upward): “So, that way?”
D: “Yes, you can take the elevator.”
Confused-looking student: “OK.”
He then wandered toward the elevator, turned around and ambled out of the building.

At that point, he wasn't the only confused one.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Teaching certification and qualification

Several years back, I came to realize the painful truth that a degree or certification doesn't necessarily mean much -- if anything -- in terms of teaching ability. One of the best teachers I ever hired had very little previous experience (just a gifted teacher, born to do it) and one of the worst had her MA in TESOL *and* was certified by a large local public-school system. She couldn't teach her way out of a paper bag, and in fact got frustrated and quit in the middle of a term by leaving a resignation note for me written in pencil on the back of a handout -- in her classroom, for the students to find and bring to me. It was definitely a lesson for me. (And to cap that experience, she later used my name as a reference!)

There is a great deal of difference between knowledge of a subject and ability to impart that knowledge to others.

What certificate or degree programs in TESOL can give you is the knowledge of best practices in the field. Only you can know if you have the passion and the drive to work with Basic ESL students -- and that can be the most rewarding, frustrating, energizing, exhausting, wonderful experience in the world for those who do have that drive. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The edible American dream

From a placement test essay:
“When I was a child, I said I will be in America because they have too many chicken and they have good rice too.”

Monday, September 6, 2010

Some things really should be unnecessary

The other day I was looking through a catalog and found an ad for a baking pan. Among the many features listed was this one:  "Oven-safe". 

Mom got a new TV the other day. In the instructions, it specifies that one should not throw things at the TV, as it could cause damage.

Sigh.  

Career option

A student wrote in an essay that she wanted to be a “weeding planner”.
It’s an interesting career idea. You don’t have to actually *do* the weeding – just plan to do it. Of course, that’s how I handle the weeds in the yard now…

August e-mails

It’s time once again for my monthly recap of e-mail volume. August was busy: 819 work e-mails (an average of 37.2 for each of the 22 business days in August) and 672 e-mails on my personal accounts (average of 21.7 for each of the 31 days in the month). And of those 672 e-mails, 254 of them were Facebook notifications. 

I’m not sure why I’m doing this, but who knows? Someday, in a rather bizarre research situation, it may be useful data.
But probably not.