Preparing pre-service teachers for positions abroad

Meet SIT alumna Sarah Adams

MA in TESOL 2015, MAT 45
Teacher Trainer, Teaching House, Boston, MA

Not a day goes by that I don’t draw on the materials my SIT cohort developed or talk to one of my SIT professors or colleagues to get ideas.

Sarah AdamsI am a teacher trainer for the Cambridge English CELTA (Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults) program for Teaching House, Boston, and a graduate of SIT’s MA in TESOL program. In my current role, I work with pre-service teachers to help prepare them before they take an initial teaching position abroad.

Before getting my master’s, I had been teaching English as a second language for several years at universities in both the US and in China, but I knew there was something missing from my teaching: I did not know the purpose for my teaching. I knew that I wanted to do something deeper, and I knew I wanted to broaden the impact of my teaching. I chose SIT to help me reach these goals because of the TESOL program’s unique focus on social justice, experiential learning, and intercultural communications.

I also chose SIT because I saw opportunities to help me move into teacher training; as part of the program, I was able to take a course on becoming a teacher educator, which helped to orient me to key elements of teacher development.

By the end of my on-campus year at SIT, I had gained not only a strong sense of my own beliefs about language, culture, and education, which guides me as a teacher, but also an enthusiasm to use my skills to encourage other teachers to deepen their practice. Earl Stevick, one of the founders of SIT’s Master of Arts in Teaching program, said, “success depends less on materials, techniques and linguistic analyses, and more on what goes on inside and between the people in the classroom.” My SIT coursework taught me that was true.

After my year in SIT’s MA in TESOL program, I took part in the American Language Academy’s summer teacher training program for Chinese middle school teachers of English from the Shenyang school district in Liaoning province, China. Working with a team of eight other trainers, I ran three 10-day intensive training programs for over 500 middle school teachers. These programs focused on raising awareness about communicative language techniques and about building teacher motivation.

In developing and revising the programs’ curriculum, I drew heavily on the approaches I had learned at SIT to bring in activities like storytelling and group tasks to help create a sense of community and deepen the teachers’ reflections on their teaching experiences. The teachers I worked with often arrived at the training frustrated and exhausted by the high-stakes testing environment of their schools, but so many commented that by the end of the training they had found new meaning in their teaching. It was such a joy to share with them the reflective practice techniques that I had been inspired by at SIT.

I started working with Teaching House in early January 2016. Not a day goes by that I don’t draw on the materials my SIT cohort developed or talk to one of my SIT professors or colleagues to get ideas. I couldn’t imagine teaching without being upheld by such a strong community of educators.