Masters Thesis

Challenges and successes as a Peace Corps teacher trainer in Micronesia

In 2012, I was sent to the island of Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia, an Oceanic country consisting of many islands and atolls, as an English instructor and teacher trainer through the Peace Corps. I spent two years teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) alongside local teachers at a public elementary school in 5th- through 8th-grade, in addition to assisting 4th-grade English instructors with reading, writing, speaking and listening activities. When I arrived at my service site, I found that teachers often lacked training and resources, and that students lacked engaging activities and reading materials which would have greatly helped with motivation. I developed workshops for teachers on topics ranging from lesson planning to classroom management, and developed lesson plans with those teachers which emphasized group work, creativity, and critical thinking. Results were overwhelmingly positive, with student standardized test scores improving by margins of as large as 36% over the two-year period. This thesis tells the story of that transformation somewhat chronologically, beginning with my coursework at Humboldt State University and my Pre-Service Training in the Peace Corps. The next chapter of the thesis focuses on the needs observed at my service site; these needs, in turn, inform the following chapter on classroom activities, lesson planning, and resource development. The penultimate chapter deals primarily with teacher-focused workshops, developed not only in the interest of improving teacher performance but also in an effort to help teachers pass certification examinations administered by the local Department of Education. My hope is that EFL instructors, future graduate students, and future Peace Corps volunteers can use my examples as inspiration for their own pedagogical successes, regardless of their teaching context.

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