I was drawn to education because of my fascination with language. There are only a few classes in college that really stuck with me. I was a Linguistics major and the classes that really drew my attention were practical, applied teaching courses.
I decided to get my TESOL certification from Western Washington University when I was 20 because I knew I wanted to teach English as a foreign language. That was where I first came into contact with the activities and teaching strategies useful for English Language Learners.
It also provided a framework for me to understand why cooperative learning is so important and useful for American educators. We have so much diversity and inequality in our students that we must find a way to provide equity in educational opportunity. Simply put, cooperative learning seems to be the most powerful tool that we as teachers have to balance the playing field.
But I was still a young teacher when I learned this. It was still to be several years before I got my first chance to glimpse the power of cooperative learning structures at my first Kagan workshop. That's when I really started to change my practice.