I bring both an academic and arts background to my teaching. Drama is definitely an integral part of my class, and an essential teaching tool for me. You may wonder why.
I've always enjoyed studying and learning, whether it's been on my own or in school. In fact, I distinctly remember pondering grammar questions and reading out loud as a child in rural southern Illinois. The animals were a welcome audience. I approach teaching with creativity and a sense of humor and feel it's important for teachers to make language come alive. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in history and philosophy from Elmhurst College outside Chicago, I served as substitute teacher in Chicago's public school system. Realizing I enjoyed the teaching field, I was awarded a fellowship to pursue my Master's of Arts of Teaching degree at Louis University. Subsequently, I taught at the elementary level for 8 years.
During this same period of time,I chose to include a professional career in the arts. I loved the element of personal expression. Performing with the Lyric Opera Chorus of Chicago was the beginning before moving onto TV/Film, stage and musical theater. Later, serving as an agent for 7 years proved rewarding, especially in the development of young artists in the entertainment field who appeared with Star Search, Disney and on Broadway. Supporting their educational success and creative ambitions was paramount. Before long, I transitioned to NYC.
It was this move to NY that propelled me into a different direction. Soon, I coupled my theatrical background with the educational arts by serving as an acting instructor for the Professional Performing Arts School in Manhattan and at TAI Resources. Next, becoming an ESL teacher seemed an incredibly logical fit. For me, theater and teaching compliment each other; they both require creativity and a strong desire to share something with an audience or a class; there is a wealth of stories available from an international roundtable of ESL students. Fascinated by the multitude of backgrounds that are found in ESL classrooms,I felt incredibly fortunate to be sitting in a classroom with students from three or more continents, engaged in a discussion that demonstrates how we are all much more similar than we are different. Thus, I decided to pursue ESL teaching more seriously and received my CELTA certification through the Cambridge Certification Program offered through the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations. Past teaching experiences have included individual tutoring, instructor for the CUNY system and director of ESL programs.
In my ESL classes, students wear many hats: artist, writer, actor, director, critic, partner, designer, interviewer, and even teacher. I incorporate a variety of methods for expression in order to keep the class unpredictable, exciting, and challenging for them. While I can be a demanding teacher,I find that my students are always surprising themselves (and me) with what they accomplish. Thus, drama is an integral part of teaching because it allows students to safely step outside of themselves and practice all the elements of language: vocabulary, pronunciation, stress, phrasing, intonation.-- in a fun, integrated way. Using drama really takes the focus off of scrutinizing individual mistakes, which can be stressful and limiting. Pairs and groups get to plan and perform together to a common end, which results in a great sense of camaraderie.
Furthermore, I like the challenge of trying to help all students add nuance to their vocabulary, going beyond the utilitarian and "upgrading" their English, which in turn allows them to communicate without compromising the integrity of their thoughts and ideas. It's really given me a deep appreciation for the power that words have:a wealth of words available to express very specific sentiments, actions, concepts, colors- nearly everything. Vocabulary really excited me! Thus, I also take a profound interest in academy prep work with a focus on grammar, literature, composition development and SHSAT / SAT test prep.
Absorbing as much understanding of the English language as possible on any level is vital and rewarding. It is an achievable goal that makes one interesting and vital to the world. My Persian cat Da Vinci agrees.
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