SLAers in the Spotlight: John Kruse's Success Story

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John Kruse's success story overcoming COVID challenges and restrictions

Before going on Thanksgiving break, let’s stop for a moment and reflect on the challenges we have overcome for the first part of the fall semester, as well as experience for a moment gratitude for all that we have. Our lives have changed greatly since last spring, but we all managed to thrive. We should allow ourselves another moment to remind ourselves how hard adjusting to the new situation was, but not forget that we rose to the occasion! And although the future is still uncertain, and there may be more restrictions to come, we should always remember that with innovation, creativity, and dedication to work anything is possible! In this light, John Kruse, an SLA MA student, shared his success story of being creative and taking the lead in overcoming COVID challenges and restrictions in his teaching context:

“On March 11th the university announced that it would soon transition to an online environment. That same day, the IT Department sent out an email with the ominous subject line, “Do you have the resources you need to learn remotely?” In my case, I wondered whether I had the resources to teach my English as a second language classes remotely. My students are University of Maryland staff from a variety of L1 backgrounds. Spanish, of course, but also Chinese and Korean.

Although COVID-19 and the closure of the classroom in McKeldin presented challenges, fortunately they did not significantly interrupt this ESL instruction at College Park. I had class the next day, and there was just enough time to shift the intermediate and advanced students to synchronous online classes on Zoom using digital curricula from ESL Library that allows for instructor-student interaction and has hundreds of topical lessons at different proficiency levels.. For beginner students, I am currently in the process of transitioning them from Duolingo, (which was a quick fix) to the more career-aligned coursework on Voxy, a needs-based, digital English language learning platform.

I look forward to a time when the ESL classroom will reopen for in-person classes. But until then, the students continue to study online topics to include Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Daylight Saving Time, and Veterans Day. Being prodded to use different technologies to enhance ESL instruction hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing.”

-John Kruse