Monday, January 12, 2015

Bright Futures

Jim Rohn

Winter term has begun at University of Oregon's American English Institute. I'm teaching 100% online this term in our eLearning program, where I'll be teaching Building Teaching Skills through the Interactive Web (Webskills), as well as Practical Applications of Listening and Speaking Skills (PALSS). Both are incredibe courses that greatly benefit the participants who take them. Our eLearning program trains educators worldwide in different aspects of English language teaching. The high caliber courses in this program introduce participants to cutting edge research, resources, and tools that they can use to enhance their teaching practices. I always learn a great deal from facilitating these courses and am excited about the upcoming term. It is a great honor to interact and collaborate with teachers across the globe.

I've had numerous other honors recently. I've been contacted about publishing my thesis research, Interaction, Authenticity, and Spoken Corpora: Building Effective Teaching Materials for Adult ELLs. Though I wrote this years ago, it was located by someone from Lambert Academic Publishing. I've been working with my editor to accomplish publishing in the next few weeks. I'll be presenting virtually for the first time for a group of teachers from the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) in Slovenia later this month. I've been invited to present in Guadalajara, Mexico in May. In addition, someone read my tech tip that was published in the ORTESOL Fall 2014 Newsletter  and contacted me today for an interview. The short article focuses on using and Vocaroo in combination to facilitate interaction outside of the classroom. Check it out!

With all of this happening, I feel like I have a bright future ahead. It's a great feeling! I've been working hard and enjoying it every step of the way. It feels good to know, that even though I didn't realize it, I've been paving the way for my future. Sometimes, in the midst of our busy lives, we forget that all of our efforts will pay off, that a greater plan exists for us, that focusing on this and continuing to move forward with a positive attitude will be rewarded. We are responsible for our journey, but we must also trust that everything will work out. When life shows us this, it's a great moment. I'm in that moment, and l love it.

Here's to bright futures for all! May we work hard, play hard, smile often and know that life will put us exactly where we need to be. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Back in the Saddle

There's a saying in English to describe doing something that you stopped doing for a period of time. That saying is, "back in the saddle". This is how I feel after taking three months off from teaching and returning to it again.

Last year, I was extremely busy with work and planning a wedding. I got married in June and went on a three month honeymoon adventure in the Dominican Republic. My husband and I spent endless days on the beach and in the water, where we were kiteboarding. Kiteboarding is a sport I picked up a few years ago and one that I have grown to love. Learning a new, extreme sport is challenging and this summer I was able to challenge my personal self in ways that I haven't been able to in quite some time. After this experience, I feel refreshed and rejuvenated. I'm ready to enter the classroom again in full force.

This term, I'll be teaching an upper intermediate oral communications course in the University of Oregon's American English Institute's (UO AEI) Intensive English Program. I taught this course a few years ago, but have been creating and teaching a course for lower level learners more recently. I welcome and am excited about this change. I'll also be conducting an online teacher training course, Webskills, offered through the UO AEI's eLearning program. This course is very near and dear to my heart, as I am an advocate for integrating technology into language learning. I get excited about sharing my knowledge on this topic and learning from others. I'll be doing a workshop in a few weeks at MEXTESOL, "ASSURE: successfully integrating technology in language teaching".

With starting a new term, teaching a new class, returning to an online course, and preparing for a conference workshop, I'll be getting back in that saddle and moving full force in no time. Sometimes when we get back in the saddle, we feel nervous, scared, doubtful, or anxious. However, I feel energized. Taking time off this summer and focusing on my personal self is going to make my professional self stronger, better. It's good to keep balance in our lives. Now, I just have to balance myself in that saddle. I know I can!

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Here and Now

“All that is important is this one moment in movement. Make the moment important, vital, and worth living. Do not let it slip away unnoticed and unused.” 
― Martha Graham

I always strive to find a way to connect my personal life with my professional life in my blog posts. At this point, I feel like my professional life is taking over. I've been so busy with work that my personal life is being neglected. Does anyone else feel this way?

I feel frustrated in the midst of this. I want to be challenging my personal self as much as my professional self. I want to be in my kayak, paddling new rivers and pushing my skills. I want to be riding my mountain bike on technical, downhill trails. I want to be carving turns on my snowboard. I want to be gliding over the water on my kiteboard, giant kite overhead, sun shining down on me.

WOW! All of these things I'm focusing on aren't allowing me to focus on the here and now, ultimately preventing me from enjoying it as much as I should! I'm guilty.

My work is incredibly rewarding and very consuming. I'm developing a solid curriculum in Oral Communication Skills 2 and leading my team of teachers to success. Day in and day out, I'm creating engaging materials for us to use. Why do I find myself dreaming of outdoor adventures nonstop? I should be focusing on the present and enjoying it.

In Webskills, my participants from all over the world are excelling. They've created a productive online learning community. It's an honor and pleasure to interact with these talented educators from all over the world. Why do I find myself dreaming of traveling to the far off and distant places where they live? I should focus on the fact that I have the privilege of using the internet to connect globally with teachers from all over the world.

It's in times like these, when my thoughts are in the future and not the present, that I must remind myself of the importance of being here, NOW. I must enjoy these moments. Focus on them. Embrace them. One day soon, I'll be adventuring, and when that time comes, I must enjoy THAT moment.

My life is a blessing. Each and every aspect of it. From my work to my family, to all of the outdoor sports that I so treasure. I'm one lucky gal. I must remember that and enjoy each moment for what IT is.

Isn't this one of life's biggest challenges? Being in the here and now.

We mustn't forget that we are exactly where we should be each and every moment. I pledge to start focusing on the here. Now. Won't you join me?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

In Full Swing

“I move like the wind. Don’t hold your breath, because you’ll only slow me down.

― Jarod Kintz

In full swing, moving forward in full force, accomplishing many things. This is me. This is my students. This is life right now.

It's amazing how much we can accomplish in such a short time. The term has been in full swing for almost five weeks. The pace at which we've been moving is amazing. Amazingly fast. So fast that when we think back for a moment, it's a wonder how we've achieved so much, but we have.

I think about the students in my Oral Communication Skills class, and how just five short weeks ago, they were hesitant speakers of English. Last Friday, they were having conversations about complex topics, using new vocabulary, supporting each other, and speaking with increased confidence. I've been working hard to make this a reality. One of the biggest contributors to this was the work they did on their recent projects and presentations. I had them plan an adventure trip and present the trip to the class. More details about this project can be found on the Webquest that I created. Check it out and enjoy!

Speaking of projects and language learning, I recently conducted a two hour workshop with teachers on Project Based Learning (PBL), which is a communicative approach to language teaching and learning. I'm an advocate for PBL. It's an approach to teaching that promotes interaction, increases student motivation and learner autonomy, and allows learners to highlight their strengths. To learn more about PBL and the workshop I conducted visit my PPT Presentation.

Participants in my online Webskills course will be learning more about PBL in this upcoming week. I know they were very busy last week, as they've been during all weeks of the course. They've learned about online tools for both speaking/listening and reading/writing skills, written a technology enhanced lesson plan, learned how to write objectives in the ABCD format, created blogs and Delicious pages of their own, all the while working on their action research plan for the final project. I know how accomplished they feel because I get to read about it in their weekly blog updates, where they reflect about all they've been learning in my course and how it applies to their teaching context. How lucky am I that I get to share in all of their achievements?!?!

To say that I've been in full swing, moving in full force, accomplishing many things, feels like an understatement. The last five weeks have been incredible for both myself and my students. Together, we continue to learn. We are in motion, moving forward, and growing with every step along the way.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Change is in the Air

Many new experiences await us as we begin a new term at the American English Institute. With this new term, many changes will take place in our work and our lives. We'll have different schedules and obligations. We'll be meeting new people, who will ultimately impact our lives. We'll face challenges. We'll face moments of glory. We'll get busy, frustrated, tired. More than anything, we'll evolve from the experiences we're about to have. We'll be changed. For the better.

Approaching a new term is always exciting. This term, I'm teaching on online teacher training course through our eLearning program, as well as Oral Communication Skills 2 for our Intensive English Program. These are two courses that I have taught before, and am comfortable teaching and passionate about.

Webskills is a course focused on integrating technology into language teaching. Each time I teach this course, I'm amazed by how much I learn from the participants, who are all educators from all over the world. In ten short weeks of online work together, we will build a collaborative and productive learning community through the use of online tools. Participants will be learning about online tools and using them to enhance their own teaching practices. They will take these tools into their classes using dynamic, interactive activities. Their teaching will change and their learners will to. I'm fortunate enough to be able to share in this experience. I'll get to hear about all the changes that are taking place in classrooms worldwide. It's exhilarating!

Oral Communications Skills 2 (OCS 2) is a high-beginner listening and speaking course for international students striving to enter an American University. Most would like to enter the University of Oregon. This course is near and dear to me because I designed the curriculum. I lead six other teachers, who also teach this level. A couple of major changes are taking places in OCS 2 this term. We are adopting a new textbook, Pathways: Listening, Speaking, and Critical Thinking, which is a series created by National Geographic and Cengage Learning. I'm very excited to see where this series takes us! Also, I've implemented an extensive listening program into the course. Students are required to listen to a resource of their choice for at least an hour outside of class each week and report about it in a listening log. I'm hoping that this program will help increase students' learner autonomy and contribute to their motivation for listening to English. A lot of the students in OCS 2 just arrived to the United States. They will arrive scared, tired, and unsure of themselves. By the end of the term, they will transform into confident speakers and listeners of English, ready to continue on to the next level and eventually the university.

All of these changes are taking place as the seasons make a change. Summer is rapidly fading and fall is making a grand entrance with cool air and vibrant colors. I feel motivated. I feel ready for these changes and am excited to see where all the new experiences and new people take me!

What's changing for you?

How will these changes impact your life?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

New Adventures

It's the start of a new term, and with that comes new students and new adventures. What's particularly new for me this term, is that I am teaching solely online. While I generally have a balance of face-to-face and online instruction, this term I will be connecting with my students only in the virtual world.

The students that I have this term are in the online teacher training courses offered through the University of Oregon's eLearning Program, which I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of. This program is housed in the Department of Linguistics' American English Institute. I'm instructing "Building Teaching Skills through the Interactive Web" (Webskills), as well as "Practical Applications of Listening and Speaking Skills" (PALSS). Both courses are  top-notch and the participants are enthusiastic about the opportunity to participate in them.

The participants are embarking on a new adventure, being in an online course with other English language teachers from all over the world. Their excitement and dedication to these courses makes my job as facilitator a true pleasure. Being able to connect with educators worldwide is always an opportunity I am ready and willing to sieze.

I'm a passionate learner and learning from and with teachers from around the globe is one of my favorite adventures!

Thursday, April 4, 2013


“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I sit here preparing for the presentations that I will be giving next week in Ukraine, having just returned from a week long mountain biking trip to Moab, and upon receiving an invitation to conduct two workshops and a plenary talk in Costa Rica in August, how can I not feel grateful.

This life is filled with opportunity and beauty. When we recognize that, the more that both will come into our lives. Grace us with their presence.

It's the beginning of a new term. Again this term, I will have a balance of face to face and online instruction. I will be leading and teaching Oral Skills 2 again in the Intensive English Program at the American English Institute, University of Oregon. I will also be teaching Practical Applications of Listening and Speaking Skills (PALSS), which is an online course that focuses on simultaneously building participants' speaking and listening skills and also their pedagogical knowledge of teaching these skills. In addition, I am mentoring a colleague in teaching a Project Based Learning (PBL) elective. I take on each of these duties with great pleasure.

The PALSS course has already begun, and I am fortunate to have a diverse group of participants from countries including Brazil, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Latvia, Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Spain, Ecuador, Bahrain, Bolivia, Argentina, Croatia, and Uruguay. I've already begun building our online learning community and have high hopes for a productive term.

My face to face classes begin on Monday, but I will not be there because I will be in Sevastopol presenting at the Ukraine National TESOL conference. This is an opportunity that came to me through one of my online participants in the Webskills course last term. I am fortunate to have two wonderful substitutes filling in for me while I am overseas.

I met with my colleague yesterday regarding the PBL elective, and we had a positive and fruitful meeting. Through my guidance and our collaboration, I feel confident that we will build a strong course.

I work hard and reward myself by playing hard. I recently returned from a mountain biking trip in Moab where I challenged and pushed my physical limits on my bike. It felt so good.


Grateful is not strong enough a word to describe how I feel. Fortunate, lucky, blessed. Grateful. I am grateful. This world is good to me.