Teaching as an Act of Love
Touro’s Graduate School of Education Professor Jasmin Cowin’s Lessons Go Beyond the Classroom
My father actually grew up in Aleppo, Syria, one of 16 children. As he was the brightest, he got to go to school in Germany. He became a physician. And in turn, took basically care of our immigrant community. Now, when I work with my teacher candidates, my focus is really not just in the acquisition of grammar and vocabulary, but also the understanding that language is culture. And that means you have to meet people where they are, and then help guide them, so that they can fulfill their potential.
The whole point of when you teach ELL is to give students the opportunity to speak. When you hear, it changes the dialogue in the classroom. Before I want my students to make an impact in the world, I want to give them a love of lifelong learning and the knowledge that they can do what they want to do if they put the work in. When I hear my teachers talk about the joy that they had because the students succeeded, I know that is already changing the world.
Jasmin Cowin, Ed.D., wants the students in her Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) program to know that language isn’t only grammar and vocabulary.
“My focus is not just on the acquisition of grammar and vocabulary, but also the understanding that language is a culture,” explained Dr. Cowin, an assistant professor at Touro’s Graduate School of Education (GSE). “You have to meet people where they are and help guide them so that they can fulfill their potential.”
“I’ve always thought of teaching as an act of love,” continued Dr. Cowin. “The students are coming here for something that is important to them, not only professionally, but also personally.”
Part of her strong feelings for her students and their eventual language-learners stems from her family’s history. Her father was one of sixteen children born to a tribal family in Syria; Cowin recalls that when she eventually met her grandmother, she discovered that her grandmother was unable to read and had never seen running water. “My father was the one deemed to have the highest potential so the whole family chipped in to send him by train to Germany,” said Dr. Cowin, adding that her father sent back money to the rest of the family. “I realized that my father, with his education, was able to elevate his entire family. Not only with his immediate family but his extended family as well.”
She also personally benefited from English Language Learner (ELL) classes when she emigrated to America.
“The whole point of teaching ELL is to give the students the opportunity to speak,” said Dr. Cowin. “Before I want my students to make an impact in the world, I want to give them a love of lifelong learning and the knowledge that they can do what they want to do if they put the work in. When I hear my students talk about the joy that they have because a student succeeded, I know that they have already changed the world.”