Michael Herndon completed an intensive, 5-week Specialist project in November 2018, in which he conducted a needs assessment and created teacher training workshops at the English Language Proficiency School (ELPS) in Naypyitaw, Burma. The teacher training workshops Herndon designed and facilitated integrated computer skills, English listening and speaking skills practice, and encouraged teachers to modify and change curriculum to meet current and future needs.
Through the needs assessment process, Herndon identified a need among teachers at the English Language Proficiency School for computer skills training and a platform to store and access resources. Together with English Language Fellow Greg Abrahams, Herndon trained teachers to use Google Drive as a collaboration tool and a means of collecting materials. Teachers worked together on this platform exploring topics such as warm-ups, exit tickets, and formative assessment tools.
What Herndon liked most about this Specialist project was its depth. “I love a challenge and this project required use of all of my skills and tools–from pedagogical expertise and cross-cultural communication to digital literacy and curriculum design. I love seeing immediate impact and creating sustainability for even greater impact in the future,” he explained. Herndon’s work in Burma gave him the opportunity to hone in on existing talents and to acquire new skill sets that he later shared with colleagues back home through district-wide teacher training workshops in Knox County, Tennessee. Herndon’s Principal and supervisors at the high school where he teaches were very supportive of this project and viewed it as a professional development opportunity for both Herndon and the Knox County schools. In describing the impact of this project on his current teaching community, Herndon explained that, “the payoff has been incredible: more engagement and excitement from students.” This project allowed Herndon to take a step back from his normal teaching routines, to “re-energize to get out of teaching ruts and try some new strategies and take some pedagogical and technological risks in the classroom.” The impact of this project continues to reach communities across Burma and the U.S. South. This summer, Herndon’s plans to present on his project at Knoxville’s Asian Festival, to share what he learned about Burma and English language teaching there with his local communities.
Michael Herndon completed his Bachelor of Arts at Alderson-Broaddus College and his Master of Arts at the University of Southern California. Herndon has served domestically at urban centers in Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C, developing curriculum, training teachers, and teaching students. Internationally, he has served in development capacities in Haiti, China, and Côte d’Ivoire. In 2012, Herndon was selected to be an English Language Fellow at the US Embassy in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire to create and direct a new intensive English language program for law enforcement at the National Police Academy. In 2016, Herndon moved to Tennessee and joined Knox County Schools as a high school ELL teacher, where he continues to develop curriculum, train teachers, and act as a consultant on new ELL initiatives.