When it comes to Angela Mott and her journey since completing the Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) program at Niagara College in May, one cannot help but reflect on the transformative phase of the student becoming the teacher.
By the time she walked across the stage at convocation on June 21 to accept her graduate certificate in the TESL program, she also marked over a month of teaching at NC’s English for Academic Purposes program.
“I feel like I am in the best possible place to be teaching for the first time,” said Mott. “It truly feels like a dream come true. I was a Niagara College student one day and shortly after, I became a teacher.”
TESL is a two semester program incorporating both TESL and Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL); the program provides theory and practical applications for teaching English to learners with diverse cultural backgrounds and varying levels of English proficiency. To ensure the students have acquired practical skills to become work-ready graduates, the program also features two extensive practicum components, consisting of classroom-observation as well as in-class teaching experience.
Obtaining a high-average during her studies and known for her positive-attitude, Mott commented how she was able to apply her studies to the classroom setting and shared her secret to success: her motivation extended beyond receiving high grades and instead was driven by wanting to be the best teacher for the students she taught during practicum.
“I wanted to do well in the course so I could teach well,” said Mott. “Even though the lesson plans I created were being graded, the concept of using the lesson plans during my practicum and being able to apply the information in a real-life situation was what inspired me. I wanted lessons to be the best because it was for the students.”
“Even with theoretical-based courses, such a Language Acquisition and Teaching Methodologies, students spend a large portion of the program learning in the classroom, supporting the practical application of this knowledge as they observe first-hand what they learned during their studies.They are not just learning textbook definitions – they are able to experience its application in real-life.”
The St. Catharines native reflected on how Niagara College complemented her Bachelor of Science in Geography from Brock University. Mott commented that although her undergraduate degree did not identify her career, it creates the lens of her perspective as she now views happenings location-wise. University provided her with a strong theoretical foundation and viewpoint while Niagara College helped her to apply that knowledge and grounded her studies in real-life situations.
“One of the many ways Niagara College is different than university is in its ability to make connections. At the end of the program, you truly have something tangible through the networking opportunities,” said Mott.
She advised that building connections was one of the most important lessons learned during class and believes if students treat their studies like a job while out in the community, they can graduate with a career in their desired field.
During her studies at Brock University, Mott worked as a service learning and community outreach coordinator, where much of the community outreach activities hosted attracted international students. It was during these events where Mott became passionate about the international community, and the commitment and engagement of international students.
This motivated her to volunteer internationally, exposing Mott to even more different cultures and backgrounds and increasing her cultural competence through her traveling to countries such as the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and El Salvador.
Mott shared that she feels as though she is doing exactly what she is meant to do and described “humbling” as the best word to describe her experience teaching at Niagara College so far.
“I am very proud and reassured to teach people who truly want to learn and I feel privileged to stand in front of them,” said Mott. “Many of the students and their families have worked and saved for years to come to Niagara College to learn English. Hearing stories of their journeys and learning their stories, the motivation and perseverance the students have is inspiring and makes you want to be better. “
For NC students currently pursuing their studies, Mott shared some advice.
“Do what you love and it will not feel like you are going to school every day,” she said. “ It will feel like you are doing what you are meant to do with your life.”