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TESOL alumni publish reflections in a new book
Announcement Date: January 28, 2022
Proceeds to benefit SIT scholarship for displaced persons
A new book of essays spanning the 50-year history of SIT's master's in TESOL program has been published and is now available for purchase. Proceeds from the sale of the book will benefit an SIT scholarship fund for refugees and displaced persons.
Inside and Between: Reflections on 50 years of the Master of Arts in Teaching Program at the School for International Training features 52 essays by MATESOL alumni and former faculty. They write about what has stayed with them from their time in the MAT program, and what continues to reverberate and add meaning to their lives.
SIT's TESOL program is one of the oldest in the country. Since it launched more than a half-century ago, approximately 2,500 students from 60 countries have participated in the program.
"Some of the essays recall the early years of the program on SIT's rustic Vermont campus; others capture more recent iterations of SIT history. All speak to the significance of one small teacher-education program and document how its ideas continue to live in people across the globe," says SIT TESOL Chair Dr. Leslie Turpin. She co-edited the book with Dr. Marti Anderson and Dr. Sean Conley, both former MATESOL faculty members.
I would not tell my students what they already knew or what they could figure out by themselves.Hugh Birdsall
"The most important, life-changing thing I learned at SIT was the value of teacher silence," writes SIT alumnus and former faculty member Hugh Birdsall.
"Initially, I thought silence simply meant that the teacher found alternative ways to communicate with students through gesture, modeling, or illustration, so that students would 'get' the target word, structure, or concept," writes Birdsall. "This was my first in a long list of mistakes and insights that drove my learning about silence. As I continued my examination of this idea, I came to understand that silence meant 'not telling.' I would not tell my students what they already knew or what they could figure out by themselves."
Birdsall's essay continues: "Later, as I grappled with a thousand classroom situations that challenged me to somehow change what I did as a teacher, the silence of not knowing (what to do next) became the space for reflection and better listening. And my inner silence in the face of new challenges became present. Being fully present in the teaching moment, without expectation or judgment, was the gift that my exploration of silence bestowed on me."
When I face a roomful of students even in the most intensely academic of settings, I try to remind myself to intentionally see and honor the humanity of those in front of meJennifer Valdez Guterman
Another alumna, Jennifer Valdez Guterman, reflects on how her internship in Costa Rica challenged, and eventually shored up, her confidence as a new teacher. "I remember those evenings in Costa Rica when I am teaching now and getting too caught up in my ego again. When I face a roomful of students even in the most intensely academic of settings, I try to remind myself to intentionally see and honor the humanity of those in front of me before plowing into our agenda. I learn so much from my students—about their lives, their cultures, and the world—and getting to know them as individuals is the true joy that lines the intellectual complexity of teaching and learning."
Proceeds from the sale of Inside and Between will support a scholarship fund for refugees and displaced people to enroll in SIT's MAT program.
A digital version of the book will be available soon.