Christina Cavage wears many hats as a teacherpreneur. Find out how she came up with the idea to develop a brilliant app that helps her students to practice syllabification while acquiring key vocabulary.
Can you start off by telling us where you teach?
I have been teaching at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Georgia, U.S. for the last five years. Prior to joining SCAD, I taught at Atlantic Cape Community College in New Jersey for 20 years.
How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching ESL for over 27 years.
Can you describe a typical teaching day?
Is there ever a typical day teaching? Every day brings new experiences, and even after 27 years, every day is dynamic. However, on most days I arrive early and meet with students. When classes begin, the fun starts! I like to use a lot of games, pair/group activities and other tasks that really engage students. I love developing materials that are innovative and pedagogically sound. Teaching at an Art and Design university definitely helps me stay creative!
What do you do in your spare time to relax?
I love to be outdoors. Running, biking, kayaking are some of my favorite things to do. I also love to travel, and try my hand at new recipes in the kitchen. And, of course, spending time with my family (including two dogs!) is always part of the fun.
You took on the tremendous task of creating an app called AWLMaster. Can you talk a bit about it?
Creating AWL Master was a labor of love. The idea came to me over a year ago. My students were really struggling with how to determine the number of syllables in a word, and which of those syllables were stressed, and at the same time, they lacked the academic vocabulary they needed to be successful in their content courses. So, I thought, “Why not marry these gaps?” If I could create a tool that would easily allow them to practice syllabification while acquiring key vocabulary, I would be able to help them. So, that is exactly what I set out to do. I started drawing out potential screens and solicited feedback from my students on how they would be most engaged in practicing these types of exercises. They gave honest, helpful feedback that is really reflected in the final product.
How long did it take you to create this incredible app?
From concept to final product was about 6 months. The longest amount of time was really spent creating the database of words, their meanings, and their collocations.
Where can teachers and students find your app?
The app is available on iTunes App Store and Google Play. There is a discount given to educational institutions for class sets.
Do you have any plans for another resource?
I do. I hope to expand the current AWL Master to do more with collocations.
Are you working on any other projects at the moment?
I am also working on a textbook right now with Pearson ELT.
How do you promote or market your app?
I have a website www.awlmaster.com and am using social media to promote the app.
Do you do everything yourself or do you have someone help with the technical aspects, etc.?
I actually worked with an app developer who did all the backend work.
Where can people find you on social media?
What have you had to do outside of your comfort zone as a teacherpreneur?
Most definitely! I am learning something new everyday about app development, and app deployment.
What skills did you gain from classroom teaching that have allowed you to excel as a teacherpreneur?
I think it all goes back to my students. I saw a gap in the market, and wanted to fill that gap for them. If it wasn’t for those teaching moments, this idea would have never come to me.
What advice would you give to teachers who are considering becoming a teacherpreneur?
Go for it! While I have worked with a number of commercial publishers, and have very much enjoyed that work, I have also come to learn that no one knows your students like you, and that includes the needs they have, and the tools that would help bridge those needs.
I talk to many teachers about their fear or doubt in trying something new or "putting themselves out there". What advice would you give to these teachers?
Is there anything that you would like to add?
I appreciate being part of the teacherpreneur community!
Thanks for sharing your teacherpreneur journey. All the best!
Interested in learning more about transitioning from a teacher to teacherpreneur but don’t know how to get started? Here are some ways:
Connect with me on social media. Teacherpreneurs must be on social media.
My name is Patrice Palmer, M.Ed., M.A., CPP. I have more than 20 years’ experience as an ESL Teacher, TESL Trainer, and Writer. I spent seven amazing years teaching in Hong Kong and have taught students from 8 to 80 years in a variety of programs. I now work as a teacherpreneur doing the things that I love such as writing books, courses and teaching materials; coaching teacherpreneurs, travelling at any time of the year and applying the science of positive psychology to all my work (www.patricepalmer.ca). Contact me at [email protected]
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