Week Two Reflection

What is experiential teaching and how can it be implemented in EFL/ESL teacher programs?

What does experiential teaching mean to you? Considering the structure and the objectives of your teacher education program, how could you implement it in your courses?

This is such a big subject.  I’m glad that we’re going to spend weeks on it, because I can only begin to address it in a single essay.  

I enjoyed the readings and the video and have found another couple of things that were fun/useful in addition.   It’s been really nice to revisit the concept and application of experiential education and teaching.  Both my TESOL certification course and my soon-to-be-completed-I-hope MATESOL program are from SIT and experiential education is the cornerstone of their philosophy of teaching.  I have also, since 2011, been involved with a local tutoring program which, a year after I became involved, lost all it’s administrative support (Literacy Volunteers of Eastern Connecticut lost its funding and couldn’t pay any admin staff) and hence, it’s training program for new tutors.  So that has been one long experiment and exercise in trial and error ever since.  At this point,  I find myself beginning the reflective stage (looking back at the tutoring program, what we did and didn’t do for training and support, and starting to solicit feedback from the other tutors).  

I’m seeing this from two perspectives – as a student teacher and as someone who would like to set up a training program.  Reading the two articles on teacher education programs, especially the first one,  I looked back at the training I have been given, and noted what matched and didn’t match, what went right and didn’t go so right (through no one’s fault).  Part of the reason that I decided to do SIT’s MATESOL program was to share what I learned with the tutors in our local program.   I have been thinking recently that sharing not just the content of what I have learned, but the methodology, that is, the experiential method, might work particularly well.  It’s worth exploring as a possibility!

As for what experiential teaching means to me:

 Kolb’s experiential cycle is certainly something that provides a framework – both for reflecting on where you are and for planning the future.  It’s also a nice concrete framework for planning courses.  

Experiential teaching also literally means to me valuing people’s experiences (and our tutors have had a lot of life experience).  Also that respect for diversity of experience is a good orientation for working with people who come from many different cultures and backgrounds. 

On the theoretical side, it means the ideas of Constructivism (which seem to be supported by emerging neurological research).

It means connecting theory and practice via the means of reflection, support (very important!) and new experimentation.  It means enabling new teachers to consciously draw from their experiences, plus have enough structure and support so that they feel comfortable in new situations and have a game plan for when things go wrong.  

I also like the idea of group work but I know not everyone thrives in such an environment.  My most comfortable role as teacher is as a facilitator (though I know that a teacher has to play many roles).  I quite like Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development.  

 

 

 

 

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Author:

I've been tutoring ESOL and Basic Literacy since 2011, working out of our local small town libraries. Somewhere in there I decided to learn to be a better teacher only to find out that a Masters degree is only the beginning of learning. For 10 years I was a bike commuter and still love my bike and being outside, as long as someone yanks me off my current distraction (often computer related).

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