Fun classes that increase students’ attention and confidence
In the last week of June, Joanna Guerra Ledon, an English teacher at the Colegio de Bachilleres, Mexico City, gave her first IAPE Introductory Workshop in Rassias® Philosophy and Techniques to a group of ten colleagues from her institution. With entertaining dynamics, she taught the teachers how they could make the teaching of English more friendly to their group of students.
“The Rassias® techniques involve approaching, teaching the language in an acted out, dramatized way to the students. In the way they live it inside the classroom, they have a fun experience that gives them a lot of confidence, they lose the fear of speaking and that is incredible,” says Joanna, describing the educational method she was trained in last year in the IAPE English Trainers Corps.
This is the fourth year of teaching at this campus located in the north of Mexico City. Being an English teacher wasn’t in her plans, “That came,” she says with a wide smile, “Now I love to see how my students are progressing, it’s like they’re my little-borrowed children,” she says.
Joanna Guerra Ledon gives her first IAPE Introductory Workshop at the Colegio de Bachilleres
Her beginnings in teaching and IAPE
With a Bachelor of Laws and a Master’s degree in Philosophy, she was invited to teach by the Subject Head of the Colegio de Bachilleres. “He said to me, ‘I have hours for English classes and urgently I need teachers’, so I took the Colegio de Bachilleres’ exam. Then I took the national test and I got the highest average here in Mexico City. That’s how I started.”
In 2017 she applied to participate in the IAPE English Trainers Corps, an Educando’s program in partnership with Dartmouth College’s Rassias Center for World Languages and Cultures, which prepares English teachers to become leaders in the IAPE network so that they can train other colleagues within their communities, creating lasting and sustainable change in the classroom.
The first stage of the training lasts two days and takes place in Mexico City. “I arrived with a lot of expectations about what I was going to do, what was going to happen, and I was even a little suspicious, but I saw that everyone had an attitude that I call the IAPE-Educando attitude: happy, full of energy, committed, and they really care about people. I basically identified with everyone,” says Joanna.
The next phase takes place at Dartmouth College, USA, and lasts two weeks, where they put the pedagogical techniques into practice. “The learning, although very tough because of the intensity of the training, was incredible and I practically didn’t feel the time. Here, because you are experiencing the tools, you can teach later because you know how the student feels”, she continues.
She also explained that sharing with peers from other schools, and from other states, allowed them to exchange experiences, difficulties, challenges and compare them. “There are times when you feel like you’re trying so hard to do things and you realize you’re alone, so getting to know them was amazing.”
I don’t see myself teaching without the techniques I learned in IAPE anymore!
After her training, Joanna experienced changes by implementing the Rassias method in the classroom. “When I arrived, I got a first-semester student who didn’t want to talk, she was blocked, and she said to me: ‘Teacher, I don’t speak English’. Later, I taught her again in the second semester. I had them interviewing tourists and she said to me: ‘Teacher, I was able to understand some things!’. And even told me that she was able to have a conversation. I was moved, it’s like if their accomplishments were my own accomplishments,” the teacher said.
Joanna currently teaches English at the high school level of the Colegio de Bachilleres, but she also teaches at the university level. At all these levels she puts into practice what she learned with IAPE. “Now I don’t see myself teaching without these techniques. They are necessary. Besides, I have incredible friends in this network, with whom we can share experiences, what we are applying, and we continue to learn from each other.”