Sep 27 2010

Master of All I Survey

Published by at 3:34 pm under Education

Well, I can’t see how it could have gone any other way, considering how hard I’ve worked, but life can be cruel and nothing is certain. So I was pleased when I received this e-mail from a professor at SIT, my reader for my master’s portfolio.

Hi Ginna:

I’ve read and approved your portfolio.  Well done! Good luck on your next steps as a language teacher, and as an MAT alumna! Congratulations!

[Signature deleted in the interest of privacy]

And here is his/her final evaluation.

September 20, 2010

Overview

Ginna has done an excellent job on her portfolio, entitled “Owning Education.”  It is well organized, clearly presented, accessible, well written, and shows thoughtful reflection on and perceptive analysis of her learning in the MAT Program.  The documentation clearly reflects her achievement of competencies.

Introduction

In the Introduction, Ginna discusses the transformation she has undergone since enrolling in the MAT Program: she now sees the world through a teacher’s eyes, aware of the pedagogical potential, and of this new-found passion for teaching.  At the same time, she acknowledges questions and concerns about embarking on a new profession.  This back and forth between doubt and belief in herself as a teacher is part of this transition at this early stage of her language teaching career.  Here, she also sets the tone of thoughtful, frank inquiry that pervades her writing in all of her essays.

Thematic Essay

Ginna chose “Owning English: Technology, Culture, and Students’ Stories in the Language Classroom” as the topic of her thematic essay. It describes digital storytelling and its applications to language teaching, drawing upon her extensive research on this topic for an independent study and also as the focus of her Sandanona presentation. It’s a strong essay: well organized and clearly written, with an emphatic personal stake. This topic represents the union of Ginna’s previous profession as a media producer/journalist and English language teaching, an important connection for her.

Reflective Essays

These essays all reinforce and expand upon Ginna’s learning in the MAT Program. She begins each essay with an introduction called “How I Got Here.”  These introductions, in a succinct manner, relate her personal history with the themes of each competency area.  They provide useful background and also subtly reinforce the message of her transition. She ends each with “Where I Am Going,” pointing toward future learning.

Taken together, the essays demonstrate clarity and confidence about what Ginna has learned and what she intends to do next.  She skillfully references her documents, as she narrates the story of her learning in each competency area.  Also, the essays show her ability to accurately analyze her learning experiences, to connect this with other thinkers and practitioners, and to name viable solutions and strategies. All the reflective essays are well written: clear, succinct, insightful, and filled with short narratives that capture her learning experiences.

Ginna’s overall theme in these essays is entry into the world of language teaching.  Some topics that stood out for me follow. Her “Language and Culture” essay featured her recognition of the power and relevance of the cultural dimension of language teaching and that her passion for folklore could be included in lessons. Her “Learners and Learning” essay contains an examination of her awakened interest in language learning theories, along with the realization that applying these theories in the classroom requires additional effort.  In her “Teaching and Teachers” essay, describes her discovery of content- and task-based instruction and how these approaches to language teaching provide a bridge from her past to her new career as a language teacher.  Her “Self and Other” essay shows a thoughtful, perceptive analysis of numerous group experiences, and awareness of her own roles and reactions.  Her essay on Educational Institutions, Communities, and Professional Life” illustrates the impact of English as an International Language and of the political dimensions.  All her essays are filled with insights and connections of this sort.

Documentation

Ginna’s choice of her personal writings and other documents is effective, clearly showing her attainment of the competencies she has selected. I found it particularly effective that she referred to specific statements in her documents and constructed her essay around these.

Summary

It was a pleasure to read Ginna’s portfolio and to follow the story of her learning throughout the program.  She tells a compelling story of making a transition into a new profession.  Despite the doubts and concerns, Ginna discovered that much of her experience and expertise in previous careers can be incorporated into her approach to language teaching. With more classroom experience, these connections will become stronger, and eventually, fully integrated and fueled by her passion for teaching and learners.

One response so far

One Response to “Master of All I Survey”

  1. Oleg K. says:

    What? Ginna’s a good writer?!?

    Tell me something I don’t know.

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