Wednesday, 16 March 2011

So you are a teacher...

In the about me section, I argue that sharing is a fundamental part of teacher development. I also mention that I’ve organized teacher development sessions for teachers of English and Spanish. Now, what do we talk about when we talk about teacher development?

After four years (at least!) of studying English Language, Grammar, Literature, of practising your Phonetics in front of a mirror until you sound like the Queen Mother, of trying to come up with the most enlightening and dynamic lesson ever for your Methodology class... you got your degree! You are a teacher of English! Yeah!!! It’s been a long trip and you finally reached your destination. Well, yes. But a new journey begins, a life-long journey called teacher development.

What is teacher development? In what ways is it different from teacher training?

Basically, teacher development is all up to you. It is not compulsory, you don’t follow an external agenda (i.e. you don’t have to comply with requirements imposed by somebody else). It has to do with your own growth and development of insights.  It has to do with the activities in which you choose to get involved in order to develop your professional competence as a teacher. It includes (but is not limited to):

  • keeping up-to-date with recent developments in the ELT field
  • reflecting on your own practice (aiming at being capable of monitoring, criticizing and defending your actions)
  • networking

So how do we actually do these things?

  • By attending talks, conferences, workshops (not only ELT-specific ones, but also those about disciplines that give us interesting tools, such as NLP, counselling, etc.)
  • By keeping updated with relevant literature (books, journals, magazines)
  • By belonging to professional organizations and specific interest groups
  • By getting in touch with other teachers! At work, at conferences and seminars, and also on the web!

Did you know that there are hundreds of blogs run by English teachers? Native, non-native, experts, newbies... Then you’ve got Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn and... There’s a whole professional networking universe in your computer, just waiting for you to take the plunge!

So here is my first recommendation:
You can start at http://www.kalinago.blogspot.com/. Karenne Sylvester is (for me anyway) like the goddess of ELT bloggers. She writes interesting stuff, she’s funny and she is a native speaker (which is a plus for us, non-natives). She also has lots of links to other interesting sites.

Enjoy!

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