iTTi Arequipa Peru Interview

Stephen Scott Bucholtz iTTi Peru

iTTi Arequipa, Co-Director


Arequipa, Peru

Stephen Scott Bucholtz

“…working with kids with learning disabilities, I began to see the importance of being part of the “Forming the Future” revolution….”

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Education was not what I originally studied for. I studied Psychology, Accounting, and Systems. However, since my days teaching Graphic Design and a as a Literacy Volunteer working with kids with learning disabilities, I began to see the importance of being part of the “Forming the Future” revolution.
If you think there are serious problems in the world, the best place to begin change is in Education. If you don’t like the way today’s generations are being formed, the best place to begin change is Education. If you don’t do you part to affect change, then you have no supportive argument to complain. If you want to know where or how to see change, then the answer is simple: It begins with you. Learn a profession that gives you a special gift every single day. A smile on a student’s face. A feeling of gratification when a student recognizes his or her progress and success. If you’re fortunate, and I am, have a student carry the torch and become a teacher or make a huge change in the world. I have a former student that is now a Dr. in Micro-Biology at one of the world’s leading universities working to find a cure for Covid-19. Finally, I would tell them that every single answer to every single problem begins with a teacher. Teachers are literally the foundation of society. The rocks standing out in a world of sand crystals. The sand (or other jobs) will one day be swept away by the tide (or changing industry needs) but the rocks with be here forever. Teachers will always be needed.
As a Psychology major, I am in a unique position to combine my observation skills with my teaching skills. As a result, I have had countless occasions where students have overcome issues in their lives personally, academically, or professionally because they just needed to know that someone believed in them or was actually invested in their lives. If I had to choose one student experience, it would be a student who was fighting to stay in class everyday. This student had to help her parents everyday and early in the morning. When the student wanted to pursue something in her life, it had to play second or third fiddle to what her parents wanted. Often times in Peru the parents don’t allow their children to dream or don’t believe in dreams. The affect can be devastating to the child and in this case it was so. After, many one-on-one sessions with this student as both a teacher and a guidance counselor of sorts, I got the student to realize that her dreams mattered and that she could do whatever she chose and English was the vehicle to drive towards these dreams. She recently passed her TOEFL with a very high score and is also studying Biochemistry at the Masters level in a prestigious university. She came to my office after nearly a year and thanked me for never giving up on her.
As I look way way back, I can relate certain teachers to different methodologies. A lot of audiolingualism, silent way and communicative. I will say that the two teachers that stood ought the most in my studies, both challenged med to never accept the teacher as the ultimate authority. My job was always go home and research for myself to decide if the information that the teacher presented was, infact, legitimate. They made med responsible for my education in a participatory manner because they both used feedback journal. I was required to use the last five minutes of every class to write a journal entry. I could write about anything: about the teacher, about a problem at home, or ab out the material. Literally anything. It was never graded but always reviewed. I used that when I taught creative writing at a small christian high school.
This is a complicated question. I honestly believe that the approach and methodology MUST change depending on the anticipated outcome or learning objective and the particular activity. I sometimes see myself using the AudioLingualist approach because I am focusing on repetition to encourage confidence in trying to speak publicly or working on pronunciation. Other times, I see myself using, Communicative Language Teaching because I become more of a facilitator than a teacher. I also use this method for correction: I don’t allow other students to correct students: instead, I ask a series of questions to guide the student towards the right answer. I call this discovery correction. Overall, I think PPP is a great methodology in countries where there aren’t a lot of native English speakers. In brief, I do not believe an effective teacher can be constrained to one teaching methodology. This would defies the very core of effective teaching, which is adaptability.
I am a complete clown in class. I don’t believe that English should ever be boring. So, I am very dynamic and energetic. I could be absolutely exhausted all day, but when I enter my class, a switch goes off. I also refuse to allow my teachers to teach from their chairs because I don’t believe it is possible to build a connection with your students from your chair or being constantly at the from of the class. My students expect a fun class, but they know when am serious as well.
My learning style has evolved through several stages over the years. I kind of have a photographic memory, so I always relied and survived on my memorization skills. However, I never really learn anything. I have learned how to learn from using several different styles. I love to learn form Audio and Video. I love love love to investigate on my own. I believe I learn the best when I put in the time and effort to research and validate everything I read or study. So, I guess my learning style would definitely be classified as Combination learning style( solitary, logical, auditory, an kinesthetic) Just as in teaching style and methodology, I believe the learning style depends greatly on the subject and/or activity.
Students, especially adolescent students, can be very cruel at times. So, I always try to encourage classroom respect and empathy, and I always try so build a safe environment for my students to make mistakes. However, when one student publicly ridicules or makes fun of another student, I have a difficult time supporting such behavior.
I believe that my students struggle the most with staying motivated. As much as I train my teachers to give their students a reason to want to be in their class instead of being somewhere else, cultural formation is very powerful, and in the Peruvian cultural it is a struggle to get students to believe that great opportunities are available to them just as equally as anyone in any country.
I am kind of a tech-geek. Currently, I use an interactive touch screen whiteboard that interacts with my online virtual platform technology. My online platform is a Virtual Classroom that has online live video classroom technology built in each classroom. Students just need to enter their classroom and join the video classroom session. If they can’t physically attend a class, they can connect virtually. I have tested and experimented with more than 20 lms programs and settled on the one ranked one one in the eLearning moodle. I allow the students to connect to the aula virtual with their cellphones to enter out chatroom to practice vocabulary and writing and project in on the whiteboard. We also use whatsapp to answer questions. They send quiz answers to my personal number and the do collaborative work in the whatsapp group. Again, all is projected on the whiteboard with whatapp web.
21st century teachers are very much entwined with the student ie. creative and critical thinkers. Teachers must become facilitators and not dictators. The facilitating process must involve much more than just questions and answers; it should also include facilitating student creativity in becoming involved in their education pathway. They should involve their students in creating the classroom environment, learning objectives, and expected outcomes. Such a teacher should be both forward thinking and relevant to the current times simultaneously. In my opinion, most importantly, and you probably won’t find this in any textbook definition of a 21st century teacher, a 21st century teacher’s emotional quotient should be equally as proficient as his or her intellectual quotient.
Such a student would and is someone who is embraces their creative and critical thinking skills equally. Someone who is comfortable using both skills in problem-solving. Someone who has is not afraid but rather enjoys the collaboration and communication process in achieving their learning objectives. Obviously in a Global world they must and most certainly are technologically literate. What I also enjoy seeing is their understanding that education is a lifelong process.
Well to be truthful about it, I wanted to do some research before I responded to this question. So, my take is that I am not sure if the good outweighs the bad. On the one hand, I see AI as progress, but as in other areas, progress isn’t always 100% good. Ai would offer several benefits to English teaching: some obvious like instant real-time translation for any country, any nation, or any language. In VR it would give students a chance to practice communication skills without the fear of being embarrassed. It would make learning fun and definitely relative to the times. However, there would undoubtedly be less teacher employment, more students addicted to technology, and less Language schools due to the cost of such technology. Additionally, I read and agree whole-heartedly that AI would definitely make things faster and more proficient , but it would not bring the same level of quality that comes from years of teacher experience. Finally and most importantly, AI would all but eliminate the humanistic nature of teachers. No personal guidance, no people making a difference in another’s life, no leading by example, and literally no personal care or investment.

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