September

MEmber of the Month:

Rachel Riggs


Occupation: ESL Instructor


Institution: Frederick Community College


Years Involved in/Teaching ESL?
Eight years involved in and teaching, Professionally for one




Why did you become an ESOL teacher?

I've had a passion for diversity and world cultures since I traveled Europe with my two sisters and my grandparents as a young girl. It was exhilarating and eye-opening. Then, I lived in Honduras after high school and became passionate about helping those in poverty to reach their goals and feel a sense of pride in their capabilities. I realized TESOL was a great way to be the first warm smile and helping hand to those entering the United States. It also enables me to remain in an environment I love-the academic setting where reading and writing and creativity are fostered and encouraged. I love being a student as much as I love being a teacher!

What other jobs or careers did you have before landing in TESOL?

Receptionist, barista, Spanish interpreter

What do you love about your career?

Ev.Er.Y.Thing. But mostly the students. I love meeting them, getting to know them, and helping them to define and act and on their goals.

Who or what inspires you?

See previous answer! My students amaze me. My fellow teachers are also a great source of new and energizing ideas. And, of course, my amazing family who surround me while I'm lesson planning or doing any number of work-related activities at home and make me laugh and give me the warm fuzzies.

What has been your greatest accomplishment (so far)?

Earning my Master's degree is high on the list. It was the experience that validated that I am truly enamored by all things TESOL and that when you find something you love the challenging parts are invigorating rather than discouraging.

What goals do you have for the future?

So many! Ultimately, I want to contribute to this field. I want to develop methods that are helpful to teachers and students. I want to find ways to encourage students to stay on track and go for the gold. Right now, that is manifesting itself in (a) sharing my ideas for integrating smartphones in the classroom and (b) generating scaffolding for students so that they can create their own action plans to expand their digital literacy. I also dream of someday having a podcast where I bridge the gap between researchers and teachers.

What is your favorite part about teaching?

The moment when a student finally feels comfortable enough to ask me something unrelated to the lesson plan whether it be that burning grammar question they've had for so long or why I drink so much coffee. It means they're engaged!

Teaching adult students is like _____.

An episode of Friends because we make mistakes together, grow together, laugh together, and ultimately just enjoy going on the journey together

The three things I always keep in my desk/have in my teaching bag are:

Altoids, colorful Expo markers, a list of contact information for all my students


Want to nominate the next member of the month? 

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