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Faculty Profile: Andrew Screen

Professor Andrew Screen began his teaching career in 2003 as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica, where he taught English and coached youth soccer. In 2009, Screen joined Georgetown’s English Language Center (formerly the Center for Language Education and Development), where he typically teaches Advanced Communication Skills and grammar.

Education: M.A. Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), American University; B.A. Spanish, James Madison University

First job: As a child, I earned money through all kinds of “odd jobs” (babysitting, pet sitting, dog walking, delivering newspapers, canvassing for Domino’s Pizza, shoveling snow, mowing lawns, etc.

Favorite book: Most impactful, practical book: Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath; most enjoyed fiction book: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

Favorite Quote (at present): “I’d rather be a hypocrite than the same person forever.” – Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz

What do you do for fun outside of class? I enjoy walking, hiking, and running in nature. I am fortunate to live in an area that has an abundance of nature and great trails. What I especially like about my local trails is that I see few humans 🙂

We have lived in our current house for a little over three years, and before moving in, we noticed that the house had a big garden that had not received much love for several years, so we have spent a lot of time as a family transforming the garden into a space where the kids can learn about plants and how to grow your own food. A younger version of myself would have never imagined that I could get as much joy from working in the garden as I do.

I also love Friday nights. I have two great friends whom I’ve known since I was elementary school, and they live right down the street from me. We catch up every Friday evening with our families around the fire pit. After the fire, each family goes their own way to pick up pizza from the Italian restaurant in town. I love this Friday night tradition.

How do you keep learning fun in the classroom? Who ever said learning was fun?! No, in all seriousness, I sure hope learning is fun. In my grammar classes, I often ask students at the beginning of the semester how much they like — or DISLIKE grammar (on a scale of 1-5). There are always at least a couple of students who don’t like grammar. One of my goals is to make grammar less painful for those students by keeping it real. The more real examples a teacher can bring into the class can help students see how useful grammar can be. I think back to my high school days in trigonometry and saying to myself, “I’m never going to use this stuff!” I don’t want my students to feel as though grammar is “a monster that must be avoided or tackled”, which is the way that I felt about math in high school. So, I’d say that my own experiences as a learner helps drive me to try different ways to make learning fun in the classroom.

What is your favorite course(s) to teach and why? Grammar – at any level – because I am into measurable learning and watching students improve, and grammar is a discrete skill that I find can be measured fairly easily, and the learning gains in grammar are apparent and tangible to students. In other words, students can take a diagnostic test at the beginning of the semester. Then they are given opportunities to practice and notice the grammar, receive individualized feedback from me, practice more and then, ideally, take an end-of-the-semester test and see REAL gains. It’s not about earning an “A” or a good grade at the end of the semester. Each student comes into the course at a different place in grammar, and each student’s journey up “Grammar Mountain” is different. Some students start way down in the valley, others start at “Base Camp”, and others might start just a short hike away from the summit. It’s fun being a “grammar sherpa” and helping students along the grammar journey.

Do you have any research interests in the field of English Language Teaching? I am into tech tools that enhance learning. I also enjoy learning about different student feedback modalities (text feedback, audio feedback). I worked on an Initiative for Technology Enhanced Learning (ITEL) research project several years ago that focused on flipped learning and eventually my interests led to something I call “Vidback”, which refers to short instructional videos that I have created that a student may receive in the form of a Comment in a Google Doc, in response to an error that the student may have made. The idea is that the feedback is targeted, individualized, and designed to be “sticky” so that the student remembers how to avoid the error in the future.