To my Teaching Experience Page



Hall Family in 2014

Hall Family in 2014

Self Introduction

I was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. I grew up loving sports and listening to the hair metal bands of the late eighties and early nineties such as Guns N' Roses, Poison, Aerosmith, etc. I still have bad taste in music!

I have been living in Japan since 1997 as a JHS ALT, part time high school teacher, student, lecturer, and associate professor. My one regret is that I never added a more interesting job to my resume such as chef, sushi devilevery boy, or professional dancer.

I met my wife when I was working in Hokkaido as an ALT and we have three children, aged 11, 4, and 1. My second child was born on my birthday and I like to tell her that she was my birthday present. Being a dad is absolutely exhausting but also very fulfilling.

My Teaching Philosophy (October 9, 2015 → July 20 , 2016)

I believe that learning is caused by a combination of experience, interaction, and instruction.  Experiencing complexity, confusion, and even frustration is an essential part of learning. The process of making sense of what confuses us helps us learn.* A teacher's role is to
  1. Provide the appropriate classroom conditions where students are interested in the content and classroom activities and feel little anxiety.
  2. Help students learn how to learn. This includes helping students develop strategies,  helping them learn how to work with one another, and encouraging them to analyze their experiences.
  3. Provide learners with the necessary instruction when the timing is right.
To accomplish this, I think teachers need to not only have a profound knowledge of their academic areas (English grammar, current events, learning theory, SLA, etc.) but they have to have knowledge of a repertoire of activities that will help students develop their knowledge and skills in English and the know-how to modify these activities in an appropriate way for a specific group of students. Also, teachers need to sense what confuses or troubles students and be able to provide appropriate care or instruction to those students. This is called teaching tact, and I read about this in Max Van Manen's "The Tact of Teaching"
Lastly, I think it is very important for teachers to have their own principles for teaching which should be informed by both theory and their own practical experience.
* Red text was added in 2/2016, blue text was added in 7/2016.
In Myanmar

In Myanmar

My Development in 2014 - 2016

In my development goals, I wrote about the kind of qualities that I want ETM members to develop in my classes. My critical incidents in the teaching experience page shows how I helped teachers develop in 2014 - 2016. I have shifted to a more hands-off approach and try to help student teachers learn from their experiences. In terms of ETM goals, I believe that my Subject Matter Knowledge and Pedagogical reasoning skills have changed the most. I am learning more about how student-teachers learn and I am getting better at responding to individual needs.

Critical Incident 1 (2014 - 2015, Japan & Myanmar): I wrote about periodically watching a junior high school English teacher teach once a month over the span of one year. At first, I tried to give her a lot of advice but it never seemed to help her. I realized that I should not give too much advice and the best time to give suggestions is when the teacher is looking for them. Also, I learned that it is good to talk to teachers and let them try to work out the issues themselves.

Critical Incident 2 (January 2016, Thailand): The teaching practicum in Thailand was relatively smooth this year. I was able to confirm my hypothesis about preparing for the Puean Program. Student-teachers must have a good topic and interesting content above all else before going to Thailand. Also, student-teachers cannot understand theory if it is not learned together with practical experience. 

Critical Incident 3 (June, 2016, Myanmar): I had finished making the first grade primary school textbook for Myanmar with the English Curriculum Development team. The textbook was submitted to a panel of university professors from Myanmar and they requested a large number of changes, which surprised me. The experience showed how crucial contextual knowledge is and that there is no right way to teach. However, I learned that if one has solid principles for teaching, one can change their teaching technique but accomplish the same goals. Principles for teaching are essential.

My Development Goals (October 9, 2015 → July 20, 2016)

My ultimate goal is to help ETM members develop into teachers who can independently conduct classes which encourage students to learn English as a means of communication. To accomplish this I should: 1. Provide an environment where ETM Members can learn
  • The ETM experience should have the right mixture of challenge and support for each member to help them grow as teachers and people.
2. Help ETM members learn a repertoire of activities that they can use at ES and JHS 
  • Interesting and easy ideas for livening up the class will help ETM members. However, ETM members will have to learn a lot of these activities by themselves.
3. Help ETM members use teaching concepts or theories as a means to analyze their own teaching
  • ETM members can use concepts such as CLT, TBLT, PPP, language learning strategies, motivation, learning styles,  or theories such as SLA to enrich their teaching. They can then use their practical experience to better understand the positive aspects and limitations of the concepts.
4. Help ETM members make sense of their experiences
  • I would like ETM members to look at their experiences from multiple perspectives to understand the true meaning of an experience. This is the purpose of Critical Incident writing. I want teachers to reconsider their previously held beliefs about language learning and teaching. The reason is that some of our beliefs might not be correct. A good teacher is open-minded and willing to change their understanding about language teaching and learning.
5. Help ETM members become excellent users of English!
  • This means I want ETM members to speak English confidently and with good and understandable pronunciation. They need to be able to spontaneously react to students in the classroom. They also need to have superior listening, reading, and writing skills and understand what it takes to develop these skills so that they can show effective learning strategies for students.
6. Increase awareness of global and educational issues.
  • I think good teachers are also interesting people. They have curiosity about the world and about learning. I hope some ETM members will come to Thailand next year!
7. Encourage ETM Members to Develop their own Teaching Principles
  • I believe that good teachers have their own principles which are informed by theory and their own practical experience.