A Teacher Has to Entertain Herself

Well, it’s finals week at my university. It’s hard on the students, but it’s also tough on the teachers. We’re all busy; we’re all stressed. Therefore, I have to think of ways to entertain myself and keep myself sane this week.

In my college composition course, our final exam ended up adding up to 99 points. Normally, I would just give my students the 1 point. However, this time, I made them earn it. They were instructed to draw a picture of me to earn that last point.

It was hilarious to watch them when they read that last question. The tense shoulders loosened. The giggles began. And then, as they seriously began their artistic work, they all started staring at me in order to really capture my likeness.

The results made my day.

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I suppose she thinks more of me than her poor drawing skills will allow her to express.

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This is the Asian me.

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That is some curly hair, and those are some big ol’ eyes!

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In the running for my favorite. I am a queen! *flips hair dramatically*

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I think I look like another race in this one. Like my ever-present podium?

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Good ol’ “no nose Ashley”

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Apart from the football player shoulders, this it’s pretty good! (I’m going to have a complex now…)

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I had a LOT of stick figures like this one.

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No arms and no nose, but I love this one.

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This one is probably my favorite. One question though- do I have a tail??

Oh man. I love my college freshmen. Now I think I can survive the rest of finals week.
Be sure and tell me which one is your favorite!

Your Resume Needs Help, and You Don’t Even Know It!

I don’t know how it happened, but people have started asking me for resume help- friends, co-workers, family.  It may be because I am an English person or that I work with university students. I am a jack of many trades in my current job, and I do have the chance to help students create or update their resumes. As I have done this, I have learned the newest requirements of resumes and also what should be left off. If you already have some experience, these resume-writing tips, should be helpful. 

Don’t:

-put references directly on your resume. In fact, there’s no need to even put the line “references upon request”. That’s a given; you better be willing to give those!

– put an objective. Sorry to say, but employers don’t care about what you want. They care about what they want. So an objective should only be added if you’re trying to fill up space. Even then, let’s admit it- they’re boring. And, if you have a great deal of work experience to include, you want to save this precious space. Let your experience and skills speak for themselves. If you must add it, make it a profile statement. This should just tell what you most want to be known for or as. 

-limit yourself to one page. It is unlikely that you’ll only have enough info for one page at this point in your life. 2 pages is the norm and 3 pages is the upward limit. Usually it’s only fresh college graduates who have 1 page resumes. 

– add photos or graphics. This makes resume vetting programs confused. Do you want your resume thrown out before a real-life person even gets a chance to look at it? No? That’s what I thought.

– list high school education or experiences. Unless you are still a college student, there is no need to. If you have been in the work world for a while, there’s not even a need to list college experiences. 

-use Times New Roman font. It’s tired. It makes my eyes hurt. I don’t even like when students use it in papers. Calibri and Arial are both nice choices. 

-include your address. Do you think this potential employer is going to write you a letter? Probably not. It may even cause discrimination based on how far away you live from the potential job. Instead, in this spot, you may want to include a clickable link to your Linked-In profile. There, you can give more professional information about yourself in a more informal way. 

Do:

– make your resume easy to read. There needs to be plenty of white space. Bullet points with phrases instead of full sentence contribute to ease of reading. A recruiter doesn’t have time to read your life story in essay format.

-Google yourself. This technically isn’t a part of your resume. However, once your resume passes the initial scan, that potential employer might look you up online to see if you really are who you say you are. They can get a general sense of you from your online presence. Therefore, you need to know what’s out there. Make sure you put your name in quotes when you search. Otherwise, Google will bring up every Bob on the internet, not just the ones with your last name. 

-tailor your resume to every single job you apply for. You should have a 4 or 5 page resume that includes allll your experiences and skills. Each job is looking for different skills, so pull those out of your big resume and pop them into your tailored resume. Don’t include things that aren’t relevant unless it created a major hole in your work experience. Make sure you try and use the same key words used in the job description (assuming they really do relate to your experience). 

– include most relevant job experience first. Yes, some like to see work experience in chronological order, but most want to see if you’re a good fit for the job right away. 

-write out any abbreviations at least once. I know what TESOL stands for in my degree when I put it on my resume, someone else in my field does as well, but the person doing the first run through of the resumes may not. So, write out Certified Public Accountant the first time, and then use CPA throughout the rest of your resume. 

The average time your resume will be scanned by a potential employer is only 20 seconds, so you better make that resume easy to scan, stand out, and able to make the next round. If you found these tips helpful, please share!

resume tip

Photo from greatresumesfast.com

Beating Jet Lag (With Brass Knuckles If I Could)

Jet lag. I hate those two words, but they seem to find me several times a year and cuddle up beside me in bed while I stare at the ceiling at 3 am. I  returned recently from a 3 week trip abroad for work to Taiwan and South Korea. Since I’ve been back, my family, friends, and co-workers have all asked how my trip was and how I’m doing now that I’m back. My reply is usually that I am tired and grumpy because jet lag woke me up too early this morning,and that my body is confused so I ate the tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich I was craving for breakfast. I discovered that many don’t know what jet lag is, because they haven’t traveled through time zones, so they don’t understand why I want to take a 5 hour “nap” or can’t go to bed until 4 am when I come back from a trip abroad. Please allow me to graciously explain so that you’re not offended next time jet lag causes me to snap at you. (No really, it’s not me!)

According to the Mayo Clinic, jet lag is a temporary sleep disorder when the body’s internal clock is confused about when it is time to be awake and when it is time to be asleep. Additionally, the body is confused about when it is time to eat.

If I arrive in Taiwan at 11 am, because of the 12 hour time difference, my body thinks it’s 11 pm and wants to go to sleep. When it’s 6 am and time to eat breakfast, my body thinks it’s 6 pm and dinner time and wants some pizza.

There’s also a general feeling of sickness. Many people compare it to having a hangover- a slight headache, nausea, a general feeling of unwellness. But imagine having a hangover for 2 weeks! Many sufferers also complain of stomach problems and difficulty concentrating.

Doctors say that it takes one day for your body to readjust for every hour of time zone change you go through. Taiwan was 12 hours ahead, and South Korea was 13 hours ahead, so it should take me about 2 weeks to fully get rid of my jet lag. I will admit that the first week is the absolute worst though.

Usually when I am on the trip, I do better with jet lag because I am there for a purpose, have things to accomplish, and am generally excited to be there. When I come home though and have to go back to the daily grind, it’s much harder to readjust.

So here are a few tips I have for beating jet lag.

– When you get to your destination, if it’s night, you must go to sleep even if you’re not tired. If it’s day, you must stay awake, even if you’re about to pass out. You need to get your internal clock adjusted to the time at your destination. This also means trying to take as few naps as possible, which trust me, is SO hard!

– Get as much sunlight as possible. This will help your body produce more melatonin to regulate cells in your body. It’s all very scientific. Don’t ask me the details; just get more sunlight!

– Cool it on the caffeine. Caffeine messes up sleep, so it’s no wonder this can enhance the symptoms of jet lag. Also, drink as much water as possible. Dehydration makes jet lag worse.

– Take sleep aids. But, be careful with this one. Usually for the first 2 or 3 nights I’ve crossed a considerable amount of time zones, I take a few Tylenol PMs or the like to help myself sleep through the night. If I don’t, I’ll wake up at 3 or 4 am no matter how tired I am. Doing this helps me sleep until at least 6.

Well, I’ve been back from my trip for about a week now. I’m still consistently waking up at 6 am, but at least I’m not taking naps at 7 pm anymore, because I just can’t keep my eyes open for a single second longer. I’ve been eating breakfast food for breakfast and dinner food at dinner time. I don’t feel nauseous for no reason, and I haven’t yelled at anyone today because I’m grumpy. I’d say I’m on the up and up!

Until next time, jet lag. Until next time.

United Airlines 777

Helping ELLs in the Mainstream College Classroom

Let’s face it. Most college professors have no  training in working with English language learners. So in order to help my colleagues better support the ELLs in their classroom, I sent an e-mail to all the faculty and adjuncts with the just a few ways in which they can help these students.

Give extra time to take a quiz or a test.

>For these students, it takes much longer for them to read and comprehend what the questions are asking. If you feel comfortable, please give them extra time.

Do not write in cursive.

> I have had several international students come in and ask me to read the feedback from their teachers at the end of their papers. Most people who learn English only learn print letters, not cursive, so cursive is usually unreadable to them.

Use visual aids, gestures, and write on the board as often as possible.

>Writing key words and even homework assignments on the board is so helpful for these students. Showing instead of only telling can really assist these students as well.

Simplify your language and slow your speed.

>This does not mean you have to “dumb down” your language. Try to use less slang and idioms, which hinder comprehension for these students. Try to watch the speed of your speech. I know I am guilty of speed talking sometimes when I get going in a lecture!

Offer supplementary materials.

>This might be offering an outline of the lecture of a copy of the PowerPoint. Listening comprehension is often most difficult for these students, so they may have trouble catching all the details of your lectures. Introduce them to a top student in the class who would be willing to share their class notes.

Get to know your international students.

>Take a minute to talk one-on-one with these students, so you can gauge their English ability and their comprehension of class material. You may think they are understanding and keeping up, but most of the time, to be polite, they will just nod and pretend to understand. Did you know that in some cultures, especially Asian cultures, it’s rude to tell the teacher you don’t understand, because you are basically accusing the teacher of not teaching well?

These were just a few quick and dirty tips I wanted the faculty to know. I hope you can make use of a few of them too if you have ELLs in your mainstream classroom. Are there any you would add? Please share with others that might find this helpful.

 

Foreign Students, ESL

How I Made my Students Really Mad

This semester, I am back to teaching a composition course for college freshmen. Apart from learning in-depth about research writing, we also read the play A Raisin in the Sun in College Writing II.  This play took stage in 1959, and it focused on an African American family in Chicago. It showed what life was like for blacks in the 50’s and 60’s. I wanted my students to know a little more about the civil rights movement and also the discrimination and segregation of this time period in American history.

To begin the lesson, I asked everyone with blue or green eyes to sit on the left side of the room and everyone with brown eyes to sit on the right side of the room. They were expecting a quiz on the introduction to the book, so they were very confused about what I was doing. I explained that instead of a quiz, we would be working on something else for which they would receive points. I gave the blue/green eyed students a page copied from the dictionary and told them they had to copy it letter-for-letter, word-for-word. They all glared at me with a look that seemed to say -Uh, are you serious? The brown-eyed students seemed scared to get their assignment next. However, they were relieved when I told them they would be working on a word search puzzle about pizza. As they were working, I told them to be sure and find the word pepperoni. I went over to the other side of the room and told that students that they better finish the whole page. I let this go on for about 3 minutes, then I finally allowed them to stop. I asked them how they felt knowing that the other half of the room was working on a different assignment. The light-eyed group said they felt angry at me and at the other group of students. They said they wondered what they did to deserve the terrible assignment. The brown-eyed group said they felt badly but not badly enough to exchange assignments with anyone or to even ask questions about why the assignments were different. I did have one blue-eyed guy ask me why he had to do the dictionary assignment and not the pizza one. It all worked perfectly. I asked my students to relate their feelings and the way I treated them to how Africa-Americans felt in the past. I think it really hit home with them and made a good point.

I then went on to show 2 YouTube videos. This first video really makes me emotional. I really can’t believe this happened so recently in my own country. I can’t fathom why people thought they were better solely based on their skin color. This video is a general overview of everything that happened. It’s about 5 minutes long.

The second video is about Bull Connor, who greatly influenced the civil rights movement, because of the terrible things he allowed to happen in Birmingham, Alabama while he was the commissioner of public safety for the city. It’s about 10 minutes long and really worth the watch.

After the activity, the videos, and a discussion, I really felt my students were ready to read A Raisin in the Sun and fully understand the context and the time period. I hope that no matter the grade level, this recap of my lesson might be helpful for you to teach about the civil rights movement, especially since it is black history month. Share with me some ideas you’ve used to teach this same topic.

College is a Wonderful Place Full of Candy Around Every Corner (or Advice to College Freshmen)

I teach a first year experience course, and at the end of the course, the students write a paper giving advice to next year’s freshmen. As college freshmen begin to move on campus and start the next phase of their lives, I’d like to share some of this (hilarious) advice.

– “Do not fall in love with the first guy or girl that you meet. That was harder than I thought!”

– “In high school, freshmen get picked on all the time and are thought of as the scum of the earth. However, in college, I have found that the only difference between a senior and a freshman guy is facial hair.”

– “…through a lot of hard work, blood, sweat, actual tears, racism, stares, breaking down, doubt, a car crash, and one concussion later, I have learned to persevere.”

– “You can get a job at the school, like making sure people don’t steal stuff from the library.”

– “The good drink machines are on the second floor. It has all the good drinks and always works.”

– “I still remember the look on my face when my parents left, and I was lost. Now I look back with a smile on my face, because now I have no fears.”

– “…sometimes it was interesting, and I liked it, but other times it was boring and I fell asleep.”

-“Most kids are used to being spoon-fed their whole life, and they really do not know how hard it is to be on their own.”

-“You never think you would miss beating up on your little brother every day until you can’t anymore.”

-“When you’re sitting in bed debating on whether or not to go to class, get up and just go,”

-” I thought if I could go here and become a better wrestler, get big muscles, and possibly a girlfriend in the process, then why not?”

-“It’s nice to have a little brotherly brotherhood.”

-“After extensive private lessons in American Sign Language, I now know how to sign bacon.”

-“Being away from home is hard. Especially 2,355 miles away.”

-“College is a wonderful place full of wonderment, surprises, and candy around every corner. Ok, I lied about that last part.”

You just can’t make this stuff up!

I Didn’t Die on the Subway

I am so impressed with myself. No really. I am amazing. I took the subway by myself today, and I didn’t get lost or cry.

Tokyo Subway Map

Looks simple, huh?

It is pretty complicated. Once you are on the subway, it’s simple to see the stop you need (they show it in romanized letters). The part that gets me is walking around underground trying to find the right line, the right color, the right number, and the right gate. When I was with my students, they even took us the wrong direction a few times! I think I could conquer the Tokyo subway system if I had a few more months here.

So, on to my students. I had my first class today. I have 3 students in my morning class: 2 guys- Shun (23) and Naoya (33), and a girl- Azuki (19). We are practicing conversational English by taking field trips to various spots around Tokyo while speaking English the whole time. I really enjoyed getting to know my students and look forward to spending more time with them.

Japanese English Students

My students

Our first trip was to the Shibuya area. First we went to the Meiji Shrine, which is  a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji, who died in 1912. It is a beautiful, green area. I love seeing the very Japanese toris, or gates.

Meiji Shrine

We even got to see a Japanese wedding that was taking place at the shrine. How interesting for me to get to witness!

Japanese Wedding

The bride’s outfit is interesting, huh?

There was also an area where you could write your prayers and hang them.

Meiji Shrine

Next we visited the Harajuku district. It is a famous shopping street and is also known for the crazy fashions you’ll see the young people there wearing. And I really did see some outrageous outfits!

Takeshita DoriJapanese Fashion

Harajuku Tokyo

So, overall I had a great day! I am looking forward to spending the day with alumni from my university tomorrow.