Teach English in Dingyan Zhen - Nantong Shi

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#88 Personal Teaching Experience I have experienced teaching adults in three mediums, at three separate intervals in my teaching career, which spans from 2010 to the present, ten years total. Each experience was such a great learning experience for me, and I continue to learn from my students with every class I facilitate. As I previously mentioned, I started my career in teaching in Oregon’s Department of Corrections prison system, as a volunteer ESL teacher in 2010. I had ZERO teaching experience going in, and so not only did I have trepidation as a brand new teacher, but I was going to be teaching students who had violent criminal histories. Five of my 15 students were in for murder; this was going to be a tough crowd. I was so fearful of failing, and even more fearful of how the students would react, when they discovered I had never taught before in my life. Oddly enough, though, I was a natural. My first successful class in front of 15 female criminal inmates, led to a confidence to teach in front of ANYONE. Listen, If I could teach murderers how to speak English, I could teach anyone, anything. My first students were sponges: they were SO hungry for knowledge, and SO eager to learn, and SO appreciative of my time, they were the hardest working students I have ever taught; as well as some of the most respectful and protective women I have ever had the pleasure of teaching. I can recall having a run in with one of the Correctional Officers who had a disdain for not only his job, but for anyone who “volunteered” to give criminals ANYTHING extra. He locked me out of our classroom and cornered me in the hallway to tell me what he thought of me “for giving these females anything special”. Those 15 female students piled out of the classroom and surrounded me, each one risking her freedom further by disobeying direct orders from a Correctional Officer—every one of them could have been written up or even placed in Solitary Confinement according to prison regulations. But every one of them risked it, to protect me and place a human barrier between that bully Correctional Officer and me. I reported his actions, the tapes were pulled and investigated, and I never saw him again on my cell block. None of my students were sanctioned or punished further for protecting me and disobeying him. Next, after an exhaustive and sometime frustrating search, I began teaching Criminal Justice courses at Ashford University online in 2012. It seemed all my dreams had come true—I was teaching online, I was teaching Criminal Justice courses, and I could do what I loved part time, on my time, while working a regular 8 to 5 job during the day. I’ve done that with great success and great satisfaction for more than eight years. Teaching adults, many of whom are actually ranking officers IN law enforcement is sometimes a very daunting task, because in all honesty, these people have the kind of “boots on the ground” experience in law enforcement and criminal justice that I could not possibly have. In reality, I dealt with prison inmates AFTER they were caught, tried and convicted, and these folks actually do the dangerous part of catching the criminals and seeing justice done. I am certified to teach in four disciplines: Corrections, Introduction to Criminal Justice, Crime Prevention, and Juvenile Justice. Needless to say, Corrections is my favorite class to teach. And while I love the University community of teaching, I am looking forward to a break from that forum to teach on ground or online again, either as a regular ESL teacher or as Business ESL teacher. As long as it is adults, I have no doubts about being successful at it. Children on the other hand, not so much. I will not accept any teaching assignments of any students under the age of 18, as I have no desire to teach children. I don’t feel a connection to them as students, and I don’t feel I have the patience for teaching children. I know my limits, and I’d prefer to teach adults. My third and perhaps most personally satisfying teaching experience lasted a little over 3 years, and involved taking a position with a non-profit as a facilitator for GED courses, and business applications for people with barriers to employment. These barriers included older workers, displaced workers, moms and dads who had been “stay at home parents” who were forced back into the working arena, and, as luck would have it, former convicts: re-entering inmates. The latter actually involved a couple of women who had been my students in the prison ESL courses, who had been released from prison and were looking for gainful employment. In that chapter of my teaching career, I was tasked with coming up with business courses to teach, then writing the curriculum for each course, and lastly, teaching them and testing for certification. I taught between four and six 1 hour classes five days a week, proctored tests, administered remediation, and certified students in Microsoft Office Outlook, Word, Excel, and Power Point for Beginners, Intermediates, and Advanced courses. So, I had to first become an expert in them all. And it wasn’t easy for me, especially Excel! Proctoring GED courses and tutoring adults in subjects where I have little proficiency, like MATH, was not my finest teaching hour. I avoided these classes as best I could and taught as many Microsoft Office classes as I could trade out of from my peer teachers. The hours were grueling, but my efforts were SO appreciated by my students, many of whom had been out of the business world or had been in completely different industries and they had no computer literacy at all. Just showing them how to set up an email account, or answer an email, or job hunt online was so rewarding, and gave them such confidence that they could be successful. I was also privileged to teach resume writing courses once a month for the same non-profit, and at least 95% of my Microsoft Office students were sign ups for the resume writing courses as well. I gave them the office skills they lacked, I taught them how to make a weak resume stand out, I coached them on job interview techniques and even did mock interview with them, and I ultimately assisted hundreds of students over that 3 year period, become self-sufficient, confident, contributing members of society, with jobs they could make a living wage at, and better their chances of successful re-entry into the working world.