My name is Saira and I currently teach (General American) English in vocational education. I developed a special interest for the United States of America when I was a teenager. Therefore, it was natural for me to apply the Fulbright scholarship and further expand my understanding of the American society and school system. Most of my students have never been to the United States, nor do they know a (near) native speaker. I believe my role in the lives of my students -now that the world is quickly globalizing- is of major importance. Hence, that is why I am always looking for inspiration and practical instructions to improve my teaching.
Luckily, I am one of the happy few; I have received this scholarship to job shadow in Amherst, Massachusetts. For everyone who is unfamiliar with the American education system, the high schools in Massachusetts are among the best in America. Besides, Harvard and MIT are also located in this state. If I get the opportunity I will visit Harvard.
This blog is dedicated to my stay in Massachusetts during Fall 2016. I have summarized all my experiences in a day to day blog. Yet, I have reflected on a few areas in more depth because they have my special interest, these are: social science, teaching English, personalized learning and new technology. These topics have my special interest because I deal with different levels of English in my classroom. I have native speakers and elementary learners. It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that it is difficult for me to keep everyone challenged. I am confident that American teachers deal with similar differences in levels and I would like to have some insight in how they tackle this issue. Personalized learning seems to be the answer to me, for that reason I wonder whether teachers in Amherst use this new teaching approach. I am also interested in new ICT applications and how these are incorporated in the classroom. I believe that new technology goes hand in hand with personalized learning. Last but not least, next to my BA in teaching English (and Communications) I have a Master’s degree in Sociology. I wonder how social science is taught in high school in the U.S., why it is valuable and whether it should be taught in pre-academic high school (VWO) in The Netherlands. Briefly, this is what you will find on this website: day to day experiences and some topics which I will discuss more elaborate.