Alicia Bradley is currently working in Bukhara as an ESN Coach to strengthen teacher-training practices and build local language teachers’ English skills and teaching competencies. We asked Alicia a few questions about her background, motivation for teaching, and interests in Uzbekistan. Alicia shared her insights, ideas, and opinions with us, highlighting her thinking and teaching philosophy.
“As a teacher, you never stop learning.” - Alicia Bradley
Prior to coming to Uzbekistan, what educational teaching/teacher training experience(s) did you have abroad or in the United States?
I have worked in the field of international education since 2003 in multiple countries including Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan, and the USA. From 2003-2015, I worked as an English teacher in public schools, private academies, and NGOs. In 2016, I began training pre-service and in-service teachers as an English Language Fellow with the U.S. Department of State’s English Language Programs. From 2018-2019, I worked with Fulbright Taiwan as a TEFL Trainer and Advisor for Fulbright ETAs and local English teachers.
What motivated you to work in education, either as a teacher or a teacher trainer?
Meeting teachers from all over the world motivated me to become a teacher trainer. I’ve seen so many great teachers with great ideas, and I want to share those. As a teacher, you never stop learning. You are always trying to learn new activities, strategies, and techniques to support your students. As a trainer, I’m able to share best practices and see teachers successfully implement them in their classes. At the same time, I am able to learn new approaches from teachers I meet through trainings, which I can then share with others.
What do you think is the most important factor or skill for teachers to work toward in their professional development?
Effectively using English in class is one of the most important skills for English teachers to master. Teachers should strive to use English as the primary language in their lessons. They should ensure that the language they use is age and level appropriate so that students are interested and can follow along with the lesson. Teachers should also use clear and concise classroom language, such as when giving instructions. However, using English effectively doesn’t stop with the teacher. It’s also important that teachers create lessons that allow their students to produce English independently.
What advice or recommendation would you make to young teachers who are just starting their career?
My advice to new teachers is to always reflect on your teaching practices. Some factors to reflect on include lesson goals, student engagement, activities, and assessment. You can ask yourself, “How did the lesson go and how do I know?” There are many ways to reflect. Some ideas are adding a reflection section at the end of your lesson plan, keeping a reflection journal of what worked well and what didn’t, taking a video of a class and watching it later, or simply taking a few minutes after a lesson to think about what parts of the lesson went well and what you could change to make it better. By reflecting on your teaching, you can create lessons that will better support your students and foster your own professional growth.
What curriculum, book, course, or resource would you recommend to English teachers in Uzbekistan to refine or strengthen their pedagogy?
Some of the most important resources for teachers in Uzbekistan are other teachers in Uzbekistan. By sharing our knowledge, we all become better educators. There are also many resources on americanenglish.state.gov that are helpful for English teachers including MOOCS, e-books, and the English Teaching Forum quarterly journal.
What are your personal/professional goals that you hope to accomplish while you are an ESN Coach in Uzbekistan?
Uzbekistan has a fascinating history, and I hope to learn more about it while I am here. I look forward to meeting and speaking with the people of Uzbekistan about their history and visiting the historical and cultural sites around the country. I also want to learn more about the educational system of Uzbekistan and exchange ideas with teachers and administrators here.
What is the most interesting/surprising thing you have experienced or learned about Uzbekistan so far?
I went to an Uzbek wedding, which was fun and interesting. There was a mix of traditional and modern cultural elements. The wedding started off with a live band playing traditional music, but then changed to a DJ playing modern songs. The dancing followed the music—traditional to modern. One of the most interesting points to me was the role of the bride and groom. In American culture, the bride is often the center of attention at a wedding. However, at the wedding I attended in Bukhara, the groom was in the spotlight more often than the bride.
What is the most rewarding aspect of being a teacher trainer?
The most rewarding aspect of being a teacher trainer is when teachers tell me they successfully used a strategy or activity from one of my workshops in their classes. Teachers are often hesitant to use new techniques for a variety of reasons, such as they think they won’t be able to explain the technique or students won’t be able to do it or it will be too noisy. I enjoy working with these teachers to figure out how we can adapt the strategies or activities to work in their classrooms. Successfully executing one activity often motivates teachers to try others, and I love hearing about this!
To learn more about ESN Coach Alicia Bradley and her dynamic teaching background, her full bio may be found here: https://www.esn-teachers.org/users/abradley