Michael Bergenheim

"The Faculty of Education at SFU is a place of valuable learning environment for teachers being kept abreast of new trends in teaching, and I found that there were tremendous opportunities for advancement in education."

Program/Degree: Teaching English as an Additional Language (TEAL) M.Ed.

I was born and raised mostly in and around Boston, Massachusetts.  My family that adopted me at the age of six provided a wonderful home and the best education possible.  In addition to these, a careful diagnosis from an audiologist confirmed me to be Hard of Hearing, which changed a previously filed record that I was retarded; I had not had access to formal education and was not reared in a proper way a foster home should have.  I am fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) and English; and I speak, read, and write Spanish and German.  I began teaching English at a language school in Germany a few years after graduating from an undergraduate college in the United States in 2002.  Since I have relocated to North America nearly five years ago, many opportunities for furthering my education and enlarging knowledge of education with research became a valuable journey as I search my way to becoming a professional and effective instructor of English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) through the use of ASL.  I am also auxiliary instructor at Vancouver Community College in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing department, teaching English Upgrading.  Formerly, the Centre for Students with Disabilities and the English Upgrading department at Douglas College employed me as Facilitator for DHH students in English Upgrading classes.

Please tell us how you first discovered your program.

Upon completion of my Provincial Instructor Diploma Program (PIDP) at Vancouver Community College (VCC), a faculty member there encouraged me to consider pursuing further studies of my choice at Simon Fraser University.  When browsing on the SFU website for possible programs I came across the M.Ed. TEAL program.

Please tell us why you chose the Faculty of Education at SFU for your studies.

The Faculty of Education at SFU is a place of valuable learning environment for teachers being kept abreast of new trends in teaching, and I found that there were tremendous opportunities for advancement in education.  I was also anticipating possible research projects, and to date I have experienced numerous possibilities for doing them.  To my amazement at choosing this type of studies things have been going in the right direction.

Who is a faculty member you have enjoyed working with and why?

The day I met my Pro Tem, Dr. Kelleen Toohey, she mentioned that the adjudication committee thought there would be things they could learn from me.  I would respond to Dr. Toohey today, with a great sense, that I have learned so much from each and every colleague and faculty member.  Having said this I feel there is a sense of community filled with support and sharing of valuable knowledge among us all.  There is not one professor better than the other, because each faculty member is a joy to work with and unique in every way in my learning experience.  Additionally, I would like to share my gratitude to Dr. Toohey for offering solid guidance and rich feedback on my inquiries in a course of hers and as my Pro Tem.

What inspires you to learn and continue your education?

 Discussions on the numerous articles and resources utilized in classes and various projects, such as facilitations and writing papers were an opportunity for me to present Teaching American Sign Language as an Additional Language (TASLAL) at the 2014 Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT) conference in Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan. My colleague, Koichi Haseyama (PhD student) and I worked together to create a presentation for the conference.  His enthusiasm and utter patience towards me certainly taught me to think critically like a PhD student.  Because of his model I followed, I have been discovering further research as necessary for me to uncover TEAL and TASLAL as parallel in the mainstream education or curriculum for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing learners, hearing learners, educators, and institutions.  My colleagues and I look forward to creating more new topics in the future.

What would you say to prospective students who are considering graduate school in the Faculty of Education?

My encouragement and advice to prospective students considering study in the Faculty of Education at SFU would be to come with an open mind and learn what’s already within them that there is more than they think they can do.  The best working tool I have utilized prior to entering the classroom each day is “I am going to class with an open mind, because there is something I am going to learn today that I had not really known before.”