Molloy Professor Keynotes Education Conference in Thailand
By Anthony Vela
Molloy Professor Dr. Andrea Honigsfeld was the keynote speaker at the English Language Learning Specialists in Asia (ELLSA) 2019 conference in Bangkok last month. We spoke with her about her experience at the conference.
How did it feel to keynote the event?
I was humbled when I received the invitation from the ELLSA (English Language Learner Specialists in Asia) conference planning committee in 2018 to be the keynote in January 2019 at their annual conference to be held at Ruamrudee International School, in the suburbs of Bangkok. We had lots of email exchanges so I could fully understand the context in which I am to speak, which helped narrow down the topic to paradigm shifts that support successful co-teaching based on my work with Dr. Maria G. Dove. I was even more humbled and truly honored to see my face on a huge banner on an overpass leading to the conference site! I was overwhelmed by the hospitality, kindness, and respect that was shown to me every minute as well as the participants' eagerness to hear what I had to say about collaboration and co-teaching for the sake of English learners.
What did you learn at the event?
The conference brought together 200 educators from 14 countries ranging from Qatar to China and Vietnam. I have found that educators anywhere in the world are deeply committed to providing the best possible education to their students and struggle with similar challenges. I was scheduled to do four breakout sessions and a Q&A in addition to my keynote so I only had one free session to attend by another presenter. Through my interactions with fellow presenters and participants, I have learned that fluency and academic language and literacy skills in English are a very strong currency in this part of the world. There is a huge demand for highly qualified teachers (most of whom originally come from English-speaking countries) to teach at international schools in Asia.
What's the importance of promoting professional partnerships?
There is a long-standing belief in the United States of the "self-made man," and the myth of the lone genius prevails (Einstein, Steve Jobs, for example). When we look a little closer, we find that no success story or breakthrough invention was achieved in isolation. No one has done it alone or can do it alone. In fact, collaboration, building professional partnerships, offering mentoring and support to colleagues and students seem to permeate every field. My research and publications about teacher collaboration (also done in collaboration with Dr. Maria G. Dove and Dr. Audrey Cohan and many others at Molloy and beyond) indicate that when educators form partnerships and work collectively, their own professional growth and their students' learning increase.
How did the event benefit Molloy, and most importantly, the Ed. D. program?
I was proud to represent Molloy College at this event. My 19 years as a faculty member have allowed me to grow professionally and personally, and I made the sure the audience will also remember the Molloy name, which is very important. I was fortunate to be notified that Molloy has received NYSED approval of our Low-Residency Online track of our Educational Leadership for Diverse Learning Communities Ed.D. program one day before my keynote address. So I had the unique opportunity to make an announcement about it to a captive audience and began to recruit for the program right away. We have since received several inquiries, which is very exciting and affirming.