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EC San Diego Teacher Spotlight: Autumn Garrett

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Background information:

I’m originally from Oklahoma and I have been in California 5 years. I taught in S. Korea for 2 years.

Years spent teaching: 10 years

What made you decide to become a teacher?

-I was friends with international students when I was in college and I would always help them with their English. I developed a love for it and decided to continue my education by getting a Master’s degree in teaching English to non-native English students.

What’s the thing you love most about teaching English at EC?

-Every day is different at EC San Diego.The students are so special and unique and come from so many different backgrounds. I can learn from them as much as they learn from me.

What makes teaching at EC so special?

-When students from so many different backgrounds are in the same classroom and they start to forget about stereotypes and generalizations and see each other as fellow humans, that’s what makes it so special. Being a witness to students overcoming differences and becoming friends is amazing.

What’s one thing you’ve learned from a student that really stands out?

-I learn generosity from them. We once had a Korean student who was studying to be a chef. He always cooked and shared his food with fellow students, staff, and teachers.

-I learn bravery from all of them. They come to the U.S. with an open mind and not knowing anyone and they get rewarded for it by having the time of their lives. They surprise me every day with their willingness to put aside their fears and challenge themselves to improve their English.

What is your favourite story about a student/teaching?

-I’m originally from the middle of the U.S., nowhere near a beach. The first summer I taught in San Diego I had a student come into class after surfing and he was wearing a wetsuit. At this moment I thought to myself, “I’m definitely in California now.”

– One time a student said that she had “won” weight while being in the U.S. I thought this was a great way to look at it because “won” has a positive connotation, while gaining weight is usually thought of negatively.

What do you think makes a good teacher?

I think creating a comfortable atmosphere is key. In order for students to feel free to express themselves in a foreign language, they have to feel comfortable. They must know that it’s okay to make mistakes.

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