Very close to the end of her MA in Teaching ESL in US Public Schools, Hyunju Kang takes a moment here to describe the writing of her ESL certification portfolio. One of 12 certification students that began in September 2007, she has completed all other degree requirements.
For her teaching internship, September – November 2008, that she references below, she taught social studies, literature, and composition to English learners aged 12 and 13 at a Massachusetts public school.
While her teacher’s license transfers to nearly all US states*, it does not transfer to other countries’ school systems. On the other hand, her degree is recognized around the world and, as with other MAT students, her teaching abilities are highly valued.
Last spring, I had many questions from prospective students about the ESL Certification Portfolio. However, I could not answer them clearly because I did not know it thoroughly at that time. Believing in the experiential learning cycle, a foundation of MAT’s philosophy, I tried to fully experience each moment during the program. Back then, thinking of the final project seemed way too far ahead for me. Now that I am at the end, I am satisfied with my learning practice and hope this writing helps you see how it is possible to take pleasure in the process of writing the ESL certification portfolio.
Having completed my all other degree requirements, I am working on the final step of my degree. To begin my portfolio, I needed to fully experience both practicum and internship as required by SIT and the state of Vermont. In both practicum and internship, I used my SIT learning fully so that I could teach well. As I am a second language speaker who came from Korea without knowing what US public schools were like, the sequence of MAT (coursework, practicum, coursework, supervised teaching, portfolio) enabled me to learn about teaching children in this cultural and linguistic context. Thus, MAT led me to learn through experience while I continuously reflected.
Throughout my portfolio writing this winter, I appreciate that I can take this last chance to reflect on my experience of MAT. I reflect especially on my teaching in both practicum and internship. I spend my effort and time looking through data from my internship, such as listening to recordings of two lessons and examining my students’ writing, quizzes, and even their scribbles. Doing so, I discovered new things about myself and my students, although at the time I did not notice them because I was so focused on teaching. Without the work of the portfolio, I would have missed the chance to know them and myself better. As a matter of fact, my portfolio is evidence to me that I am becoming a professional teacher, even though I started MAT with 3 years of teaching experience. As a result of MAT, I am a better teacher.
May I offer some advice? I encourage you to reflect deeply and continually throughout your MAT experience. If you take pleasure in each moment of learning with your classmates, your teachers, and your students, you will progress not only in your teaching but also in your learning. By successfully completing the portfolio, you will not forget your experience. Unfortunately, we all forget our experiences a little, so I suggest you think of your own way to keep your experience as evidence such as blogging, journaling, and taking photos. In addition, I urge you not to miss any of the faculty’s portfolio meetings. Be calm. You are already on the right path by experiencing MAT!
* Transferability of US teacher’s licenses is outlined here. Note the bottom of the page.