August 14, 2012

A Different Approach to Learning

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Different Approach to Learning-Participant Stories- Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program Different Approach to Learning-Participant Stories- Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program
Hossein Mehdaoui, a high school English teacher from Morocco,  spent six weeks on the Teaching Excellence and Achievement (TEA) Program at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Hossein welcomed the differences he observed in the learning environment and hopes to infuse some of these elements in his own classes,

“Here the focus is on a number of skills,” says Hossein.  “[English language learners] learn reading with an eclectic approach. They work on reading, but also grammar and pronunciation and culture. They study in a stress-free environment....a student-centered environment. It is good when students are relaxed. But not too relaxed!” 

As a teacher and a mentor to new teachers, Hossein looks forward to exposing his colleagues to some of the insights he gained from working and studying with U.S. professors and teachers, as well as teachers from around the world. 

“I no more believe there is such a thing as a perfect teacher,” says Hossein. “No matter how much you think you have achieved a certain mastery... you can always learn more.” 

Hossein shared  the many ways he has changed and grown as a person and as a teacher.

“Now I have critical thinking as a teacher,” says Hossein.  “I can reflect on teaching.  I can analyze.  I can approach teaching materials from a variety of approaches... I can suit a wide variety of learners.”

Hossein also points to specific skills he has gained, and is anxious to share in professional development sessions back home.

“I learned how to design and create a website,”says Hossein.”I will try to implement a social network between me and my students, my colleagues and yes, even the parents. This is imperative for communications....I saw projects at Dutchman Creek Middle School, where I had my field experience. By doing projects, the students have hands on education, not only abstractions.”

Hussein’s experience will benefit more than just his high school students.  He is also a teacher and mentor bright and underserved youth in the English Access Microscholarship Program (Access), and looks forward to infusing new ideas into the Access curriculum. 

He concludes, “When we learn about language, we learn about tolerance -- this is what I learned.  And tolerance leads to peace.  Maybe that’s what is most important with TEA.”

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