Ted Adamson is an instructor at the American English Institute who is supervising a small group of LTS students this Winter term who are co-teaching a class for international students at the AEI. He observes every class and provides guidance and feedback.
What is most interesting about supervising this course for you as a teacher-educator?
One of the brilliant features of this practicum is that regularly scheduled reflection is designed right into it. When you’re in the field and you’re teaching a full course load, you’re not always doing as much reflection as you would like. So for me, having the chance to observe four highly motivated teachers in action has been a catalyst for my own reflection. We all need to revisit those old assumptions and shake up our patterns and habits.
What other things do you do as faculty in the American English Institute?
I’ve been lucky enough to serve on the Intensive English Program (IEP) Assessment Subcommittee (ASC) with Tom Delaney, Nancy Elliott and many others. The ASC attempts to help ensure that assessment practices in the IEP are valid and reliable. I’ve worked as the lead teacher for English-Prep Oral Skills many times since 2012. In that time, I’ve been lucky enough to have a robust LTS graduate student presence in the class: both long and short-term observers and a wonderful intern in Fall 2015. More recently, I’ve designed and taught an AEI elective course called Teaching Vocabulary From Movies for lower level students in the IEP. The course meets for 2 hours per week, during which time we use entire motion pictures as primary texts for the purpose of developing language.
What was your own path to the UO?
I got my start in ESL through a series of volunteer opportunities and jobs in K-12 education in my hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota. In that time, I worked extensively with immigrant and refugee populations in high school, junior high and adult education settings. I worked as a technology proctor, a substitute teacher, a tutor and an unlicensed social studies teacher before going back to get my M.Ed. I did a working summer in New York City in 2006. This was my introduction to the world of the language institute. I then spent 4 years teaching at Global Language Institute, a wonderful IEP in St. Paul, MN. My wife and I relocated to Eugene in 2011, at which time I began my work at the AEI.
What do you think is most important for new language teachers to learn or experience?
Having the chance to conduct classroom observations came immediately to mind. I’d advise new language teachers to visit as many different classrooms as possible. Seeing different instructors implementing different objectives with different learners is an absolute boon. I never pass up the chance to observe another teacher. There’s never an instance where I fail to come away with one or two nuggets of insight. It could be something as straightforward as an idea for classroom systems or a lesson plan. More often than not, I leave an observation with a basketful of ideas. And sometimes, you come away thinking, “Wow, I feel like I really got a sense of what this person stands for, as an educator.” This is one of the things that I love about our profession: that a profound experience like that can come out of a simple classroom visit.