Jessie Hayden’s classroom can get loud. Very loud.
Her teaching style doesn’t require students to sit up straight, face the board and remain quiet. Relaxed and approachable, she doesn’t mind if students put their feet up and chill.
In Jessie’s English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom at Georgia Perimeter College, every student brings his/her native language – Spanish, French, Urdu, Hindi, Farsi, Amharic, Bengali, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, etc. — along with a variety of skill levels within that language. Even with the student’s minimal knowledge of their new country’s most utilized language, Jessie teaches vocabulary, speaking and writing skills using only English.
Her creative attitude led her to develop an untraditional way of teaching writing: instead of maintaining only thought-searching silence which can cause student frustration and hopelessness, she pairs students of different native tongues and cultures, so English is their only way of communicating. From this, she empowers students to talk about ideas and challenges, as well as read and comment on one another’s writing. Sharing their stories and receiving questions enables students to expand content, encourages speaking and note-taking, and increases the quality and level of writing.
Of her own academic journey, Jessie adds pragmatically, “Someone who teaches writing should be writing.” Though publication is not necessary for her tenure-track position, Jessie learns continually like her students, as well as shares with and receives feedback from her colleagues.
Her article, When Writing Gets Loud: Integrating Speaking and Writing, was published in TESOL Connections, an online professional academic magazine for instructors of English as a Second Language.
Having worked together on various projects over the last decade, Jessie approached me for coaching with brainstorming ideas, shaping the query, revising the article for submission, then editing from TESOL’s editorial comments.
To Jessie, the concept of sharing and learning together is as old as time, yet combining writing and speaking into complimentary lessons is a fresh approach that works well for her classes. And when students fill the room with noise and Jessie moves within it giving guidance, she knows everyone’s learning.