April 2019 NNETESOL Member Spotlight: Kathy Lobo

What brought you to the field of TESOL

Growing up in the Boston area, I have grown up knowing people from around the globe for whom English is not their first language. After college I lived abroad for close to 20 years in Mainland China, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia.  As a 6th grade teacher at an international school in Tokyo, Japan, I taught many English learners even though I was a “classroom teacher”. Then when I moved to Queensland, Australia I began teaching ESOL in some language schools and later I taught Art and ESL in a private school. When I returned to live in Massachusetts, I began to teach ESL in middle and high schools for Belmont and Newton Public Schools. I am now in my 16thyear of teaching in public schools, and I can’t believe how quickly time has flown!

Where do you teach, and who are your students?

Presently I teach at the F.A. Day Middle School (grades 6-8) in Newton Massachusetts.  This year I have had close to 30 students across the three grades and at all WIDA levels. They speak Bengali, Chinese (Mainland China and Taiwan), Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish (El Salvador, Guatemala, Spain, and Uruguay), Thai.  I am also an adjunct professor of Education at Brandeis and Lesley Universities where most of my students are in graduate school.

What are some of your favorite teaching strategies/activities you would like to share with other teachers?

I try to facilitate experiential, hands-on learning as much as possible.  Besides modeling and sharing examples of what is expected or to be done, the strategies I use the most are “Think Aloud” for both reading and writing, and “Sentence Frames/Starters” for speaking and writing. 

Why are you an NNETSOL member?

I joined NNETESOL because I wanted to amplify my learning and expand my TESOL community.  The fall NNETESOL conference is a great event that I have attended for close to ten years.  It is a high-quality conference, it is not expensive, and I do not need any permission to attend because it is held on a Saturday.  My “local” affiliate is MATSOL (Massachusetts) holds an annual spring conference that spans three school days.  It is sometimes hard to find a way to miss school (get permission to attend), even for one day.  Jolene Francoeur, the NNETESOL February 2019 Spotlighted member explained it well, when she said that as a member of the TESOL community we support one another and grow together.  I want to echo what she said, “NNETESOL is a great way to continue to learn and grow from each other, collaborate, advocate, and not feel so isolated.  In many districts, there is only one or two ESOL teachers who are the experts in their field.” Finally I want to encourage others to engage not only with local and neighboring affiliates, but also to join TESOL International.  I joined TESOL in 2008 and now I am on the TESOL Board of Directors. 

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