Teacher self analysis In any job or profession, it is critical to step back from the work and review one’s progress. In a paid position, this function is usually performed by one’s employer. Monetary rewards are typically tied to annual reviews. In the world of volunteerism there are no such guidelines and parameters. Therefore, it is up to the volunteer to determine the set of guidelines and parameters, by which she will analyze her progress. I submit the following thoughts as a guide to meditation, self-reflection and analysis for volunteer teachers in the field of ESL.
1) Understanding and respect—Am I mindful that my students struggle each day to find a place to live, get a job, and function in a new country? Do I respect their efforts and abilities to overcome obstacles every day?
2) Patience—Am I patient when progress is slow? Do I appreciate the small victories that will lead to the ‘Ah Ha’ moment? Am I attentive to the student’s needs?
3) Enthusiasm and encouragement— Do I look forward to class each week? Do I bring positive energy to the classroom? Do I encourage the students to speak in english
at home, work and in class? Do I inspire the students to learn?
4) Sense of humor—Do I bring my sense of humor to class? Am I ready to laugh at myself? Do I keep the class light hearted and fun? Do I remember that english
is important but not fatal?
5) Culturally sensitive-- Have I educated myself about the cultures of my students? Can I relate to being in another country and not knowing the language? Have I educated my students about some of the cultural systems of their new country? Am I aware that things I take for granted could be very important issues for the students, in order for them to be comfortable and accepted?
6) Creativity—Am I channeling my creative energy into activities and exercises that keep the classes lively and interesting? Am I thinking outside the box?
7) Adaptability—Am I able to adapt to the given situation? Am I prepared to present alternate lessons when my planned agenda just won’t work?
8) Accountability—Am I willing to prepare the reports on student progress and lesson plans required by the sponsoring agency? Am I willing to keep a lesson plan file? Am I willing to spend the time to meet with each student individually to discuss his/her progress?
9) Realistic expectations—Have I set realistic expectations for the students and myself? Have I set goals too far above the student’s current abilities? Have I taken in to account that everyone learns at a different rate? Do I remember my own journey learning spanish
10) Commitment—Am I willing to dedicate 4 hours per week to teaching? Am I willing to continue to study and learn more to master the techniques of teaching ESL? Am I willing to do the planning and prep work required for each class? Am I willing to do the associated paper work for the agency?
In the process of compiling this information, I came to realize what a huge commitment volunteering in this arena is. My commitment, however, is a mere drop in a pool compared to our students. Many have fled their countries to escape violence, tyranny and poverty leaving family and friends far behind. They are the heroes.
I will use this information as I prepare to go to class, reflecting on one point daily. It will be my guide in creating a warm, welcoming and stimulating learning environment.
Colvin, Ruth Johnson. (1997). I Speak english
. New York
: New Readers Press
Dang, Pinky Y. & Ruiter, Rik. (2005). Highway to E.S.L. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse