Why I Love Teaching at Molloy College
Molloy is a very warm and welcoming community. We are small enough so that we get to know each other by name, yet we are growing academically as an institution. As an alumna of Molloy, I have had the privilege of watching my alma mater evolve as a highly-respected institution of higher education. Our students are wonderful to work with, our faculty members are highly prepared educators , and our support staff are always willing to help to make Molloy a great place to work!
Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
History of the English Language
What I am working on
We are currently in the proposal-writing stage for an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. We have chosen to focus on two of the academic strengths of our graduate programs: special education and cultural/linguistic diversity. We strongly believe that school leaders should advocate on behalf of students in their school districts in these two areas. Our proposed program will assist current or aspiring school leaders in these areas and lead to the terminal degree in education.
My educational philosophy has evolved over 37 years as a teacher at the elementary, secondary, college and university levels both in New York and Puerto Rico. My education at Molloy took place during the decade of the 1970's, a period of great change in the teaching profession. I learned to adapt traditional and innovative teaching models to fit my own personal teaching style as well as the learning styles and needs of my students. I took the skills learned at Molloy and put them into practice in New York schools and later, during 16 years of teaching in Puerto Rico, where I applied what I had learned to my new cultural surroundings. These experiences led me to value adaptability as a necessary skill in the teaching profession. Reflecting upon these experiences has helped me to identify and describe the talents and expertise that I bring to Molloy College, the values that continue to influence my professional life and the model I strive to be for my students.
The Conceptual Framework of the Professional Education Unit reflects the mission statement of Molloy College and both have influenced my educational philosophy. I was a contributing member of the team that wrote the Conceptual Framework, and strongly believe that a large part of what I do as a professional is mirrored in the statement that the faculty of the Professional Education Unit at Molloy is "committed to the preparation of outstanding teaching professionals with the dispositions, skills, and knowledge required to meet the needs of all students they have the privilege to teach. It is the goal of the faculty to guide students through pedagogically valid and intensely challenging learning and service experiences that empower teacher candidates to serve as leaders in schools and communities. We recognize that effective teachers have a solid foundation in the liberal arts and sciences, aligned with national, state, and institutional teaching and learning standards."
I believe that teacher candidates must embrace the diversity that is part of contemporary life in America. This will prepare them to understand the various cultural and linguistic groups in the schools in which they will teach and help them to adapt their teaching to meet the needs of all students. The Molloy College Mission Statement clearly states its support for openness to diverse world-views and our Vision Statement fosters a diverse and inclusive learning community.
My teaching methodology courses are aimed at training teacher candidates not only in the content areas, but also in adaptive techniques and strategies geared to helping students who arrive in the US from other countries to feel welcome and as valued members of their new classrooms. In addition to helping newcomers achieve acceptance in our schools, I believe it is also important to challenge native-born American students to discover the richness of their own cultural backgrounds and those of their classmates. Educational materials representing the contributions of a variety of cultures are essential in helping to bring about this acceptance. Through the Graduate Education courses I teach that address cultural diversity and strategies for working with English Language Learners (ELLs), I attempt to share techniques to help all students feel that they have valuable contributions to make to American society.
In addition to my commitment to raising my students' awareness and acceptance of the diversity that make up our schools, I further encourage them to accept the challenge of becoming more diverse themselves. As a speaker of Spanish and German, I have found that the experience of learning a second or third language as an adult is a challenge that can further broaden one's understanding of the learning process as well as the frustration that comes with learning a new language. Additionally, it promotes empathy toward those who must establish themselves in new cultural and linguistic environments. Whenever the opportunity arises, I encourage my students to learn basic communication skills in a new language so that they will be able to help students and parents who are learning English. I have also offered workshops and courses to teachers and administrators in local school districts on adapting the curriculum to cultural and linguistic diversity as well as offering a course entitled, "Spanish for Teachers."
Beyond the classroom, I continue to search for opportunities for Molloy students to personally experience diversity through international experiences. My belief in the value of diversity in education, whether through providing opportunities for Molloy students to experience international education or helping them to facilitate the education of students that come to America from abroad, pervades my thinking and practice as an educator.
One further belief that is a driving force in my professional life is that teachers hold the key to creating a more just and inclusive society from the heart of their classrooms. America is experiencing a paradigm shift with respect to population diversity. No longer can teachers expect their classrooms to be comprised of students from cultural and linguistic backgrounds similar to their own. Changing immigration patterns require that educators learn new and effective ways to teach acceptance of diversity. Our success or failure in this endeavor will determine how well we live up to the motto, E pluribus unum.
Bachelor of Arts, English Education, Molloy College (1974)
Master of Education, Catholic University of Puerto Rico, Ponce, Puerto Rico (1983)
Doctor of Education, Curriculum and Instruction (TESOL), University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico (1993)
Education is a vocation, something that people aspire to from the time that they are children. Molloy's teacher education programs are dedicated to preparing professionals with the knowledge, skills and dispositions necessary to make a positive impact upon the students they teach. Year after year, our teacher candidates tell us that they have been inspired by teachers they have had over the course of their education and that they want to spend their professional lives in this profession. Every great career starts with what one learns in elementary and high school.
Past opportunities for newsletter publication have included a book review that I wrote for the Speech Communication Association of Puerto Rico on "Discourse across Cultures: Strategies in World Englishes."
My dissertation topic was a study of Puerto Rican English as a variety of World English. Given the political nature of the use English as one of two official languages in Puerto Rico, a US Commonwealth, my dissertation was widely discussed in the local press (Newspaper article, "Perspectiva: Ingles en Puerto Rico, Balon politico, published in El nuevo dia, dated Feb. 25, 1997).
The topic of incorporating technology in TESOL education was addressed in an article co-authored with three colleagues from the Division of Education. See cite below:
Honigsfeld, A., Giouroukakis, V., Cohan, A. & Walsh, M. (2009). Ten ways to incorporate technology in ESOL Education. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education Journal (CITE), 9(2) 1-10. Available at http://www.citejournal.org/vol9/iss2/currentpractice/article1.cfm