Philosophy of teaching

For the continued and extended document – including citations and more personal reflection on teaching experiences – see the complete version. See also an earlier version, as this is clearly an iterative process.

[A] vocation towards educating others does not spring from inner harmony, but rather from inner uncertainties, disharmony, difficulty—from the difficulty of knowing one’s own self.

—Thomas Mann

My attraction to teaching English to speakers of other languages began in 2008 after publication, with two co-editors, of a literary anthology about world football (soccer). Released by the University of Nebraska Press in 2008, The Global Game: Writers on Soccer grew out of eight years curating an original website on world football cultures, also titled The Global Game, with the subtitle Soccer as a Second Language.

Nakhon Nayok, Thailand, July 2015

The website’s subtitle captured some of my fascination for soccer, which for me represents another mode of communication, a means of international exchange, a gesture of solidarity—the same tenets that characterize language learning and teaching. At a literary translators’ conference in the same year as the book’s publication, I met an ELL teacher from Bryansk, Russia; we became friends, and I found myself leading her mostly Salvadoran students in Irving, Texas, through one of Peruvian writer Giovanna Pollarolo’s poems about women and football, “El sueño del domingo (por la tarde)” (Dreaming of Sunday Afternoons).

Russia. El Salvador. Texas. Peru. The travels, both virtual and real, made possible through football and language teaching are staggering.

Over time I’ve come, because of such connections, to articulate an ELL teaching philosophy that values crossing borders, openness and safety, affirmation of identity, and the right to speak. As an MA TESOL candidate at Northern Illinois University, I’ve been able to develop and to consider these values both as a teacher and researcher. These values necessarily have implications for methodology and the teaching environments I find most suitable. The methods and preferred classroom settings will be touched on below.

Link to extended version