#28: ESL on Fire with Dorina Sackman — 2014 Florida Teacher of the Year


2014 Florida Teacher of the Year


Orlando, Fl 

Segment I – Background and Inspiration  

Tell your story. Where are you from and how long have you been teaching? What classes have you taught?    – Dorina is an ESOL teacher as well as the 2014 Florida Teacher of the Year and a finalist for the National Teacher of the Year. She is the daughter of a business teacher and began her career in Massachusetts. 

Who has helped you in your journey to become a master teacher?    – Her mother, a business teacher at a Title I school on Long Island, the head of the Applied Linguistics department at the University of Massachusetts, and her assistant principal at Westridge Middle School, Cynthia Haupt.  

It is important for other teachers to know that we all have had setbacks in the classroom. Identify an instance in which you struggled as a teacher and explain what you learned from that experience.   – In trying to infuse every culture her students possessed into a lesson, it ended up being a miss-mosh. The assignment was a persuasive essay and in that moment she realized that sometimes less is more. Her students noticed that she was trying too hard.

What is the difficult of teaching ESOL? – The biggest challenge is having students from 17 different countries, 11 different languages in one classroom. It is also the cultural differences and differing backgrounds in one room — one student did not know how to hold a pen. 

What is one thing that you love about the classroom?    – The kids. She gets emotional because she has got 160 of them every year. She loves them so much. 

Segment II —

What book do you recommend to a teacher that wants to develop?  


What is one thing a teacher can do outside the classroom that can pay off inside the classroom? — Most of Dorina’s classroom exists outside the classroom.  Dorina believes that community service should be an essential part of her students’ education. 

Is there an internet resource that you can recommend which will help teachers grow professionally?

Provide a writing practice that is effective?  – Formulaic writing. It provides structure for students that need it. is a process, not a product. ne minute of conferencing is worth 15 minutes of comments on the paper. 

Update the cannon. What book, written in the last 10-15 years, belongs in the classroom? — Dorina allows her students to read books from their native countries.