From Bill Walton’s personal chef to GCC’s WAC Committee
Introducing Brian McDonald from the Credit ESL Division
Each issue the WAC newsletter will profile a different committee member. To see who’s on the committee and to hear more about how you can get involved with WAC click here.
WAC: Brian, tell us about how you came to teach ESL here at GCC.
Brian: Well, I knew I was interested in being a teacher since I was in the fifth grade. I was very influenced by my fifth grade teacher and I had the goal of teaching high school history. When I went to college, my second major was English but I ended up working as an editor for a marketing company after college. Eventually, someone at work asked me "what are you doing here?" and told me I would be an excellent ESL instructor. I ended up taking his advice and applying for jobs at private language schools. I became the director of a private language school, got my certificate in TESOL from UCSD, and then got my graduate degree in ESL education from Alliant University.
WAC: But I understand that you’re something of a dark horse. Is there any other interesting work experience or hobbies you’d like to share with our readers?
Brian: Well, in addition to teaching and working in marketing I was also, at one point the Bill Walton’s (NBA star and current ESPN NBA commentator) personal chef. I also used to run marathons.
WAC: You’re a renaissance man! So how do these exciting experiences compare to your work with the WAC committee? Favorably I hope.
Brian: Well, I’ve really enjoyed being a part of WAC because it’s given me insight into what happens to our ESL students when they leave our classrooms. We faculty in ESL often wonder how our students do and it’s been helpful to work with others on the committee to talk about some of the student writing issues that effect ESL students and, also, which are issues across campus. It’s also just been really nice to get to know other instructors.
WAC: Next semester you’re helping organize a Staff Development/WAC workshop on ESL issues in student writing across disciplines. Tell us what faculty can expect to take away from this workshop.
Brian: I’m really excited about this workshop because it’s an opportunity to let non-ESL instructors discuss and, perhaps, come to a consensus about what we should all be looking at when we’re reading ESL student’s written work. I think this is a really important issue on our campus and it’ll be helpful for us to talk about issues like grading and assignment design which are important to think about.
WAC: It’s been really interesting to learn a bit more about you, Brian. Before we end, do you have any quick tips for faculty who are headed into finals week and will be grading lots of written work by their ESL students?
Brian: Well, I think it’s important to remind ourselves just how difficult it can be to learn to write in another language. One thing I’d say, and that I know we’ll be talking about in our WAC workshop in March, is that if the writing doesn’t prevent the reader from understanding the student’s point, we should try to be forgiving of our students in some cases.