From the eyes of a novice, looking back

March 4, 2013 at 4:09 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


Proudly do I say that I’m in my second term of teaching adult ESOL classes here at the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia.

Having finished one term and now well into this one, I can see family and friends asking me if I’m getting the hang of this. And sure, I’m getting the hang of this teaching thing. But by “getting the hang of it” I mean that I’m more confident in my ability to keep an entire class running for two hours, two days a week. I’m certainly not sinking, but rather than swimming I may only be wading.

Do I still look through teaching texts late into the night and early in the morning? Yes. I also still go day-by-day laboring over lesson plans. And I still check out fifty resource books from libraries public and LCNV-affiliated only to read just two or three pages in four of them.  But competence can come with time and experience. I’ll continue to build a baseline reference knowledge of typical language performance at the levels I teach (if “typical” is even truly possible in adult second language acquisition!). I’ll continue to build a repertoire of activities and teaching strategies by attending in-services and workshops.

So what makes this spring term different from the fall one? More time. To offer an example from the field of literacy, difficulty in decoding words is said to divert attention away from reading comprehension. Automating their decoding skills and sight word recognition is a way for readers to improve their comprehension. Similarly, in the early goings I was preoccupied with managing a class of 10-20 adult learners and coming up with learning objective-based lessons. Now that I’m more comfortable with classroom management skills, I have the mental energy and time to think about how I can help individual learners in my class. Some activity ideas I heard about in the in-services? I can actually make time to experiment with them in class! Of course, I would still like more time between classes to reflect on how I can make this or that better, more space to become aware of what I still need to know to teach more effectively.

But, for all that professional development talk, there’s been a constant since the beginning – the learners. Whether they call me “teacher”, “maestro”, or “profe(sor)”, they’re counting on me to be there for them. Counting on me to make learning English an enjoyable and achievable task, to bring it every class.

With all of my 0.48 years of classroom teaching experience, I am still a novice teacher. And proudly do I say so! After all, it’s just part of developing into an experienced and, hopefully, expert teacher down the road.

Xavier Muñoz, AmeriCorps Instructor
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042

1 Comment

  1. […] and participating energize me. Classes in which I’ve left students lost and frustrated leave me searching for solutions. Call it semantics, but, for me, teaching is more a fascinating […]


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