- This is for Marjorie Rosenberg, who gave a wonderful plenary at the TESOL MTNG CONVENTION in March and inspired us to do some serious thinking about the ways we use to develop professionally.Thank you, Marjorie!
As a student I loved English. Back then, however, I never imagined I would become an English teacher. I actually thought I wasn't cut for teaching, at all! And yet, here I am, many years later, an English teacher! A teacher who still loves the language, loves teaching it-and has never stopped learning it. Because teachers, especially language teachers, are committed to life long learning. And this is a commitment both to themselves and to their students. Life long learning assists professional development and can prevent boredom and burn out!
Professional development starts the moment you start teaching. Every day you teach you learn something new, you try new ideas and not a single lesson is the same with another lesson,even you follow the same lesson plan. The students are different and the same lesson plan may lead you to different paths, variations of activities and techniques, because what works with a group of students can be completely wrong for another. So much depends on so many different factors in every lesson that you have no choice but to develop, to go a step further.
However, besides the development that comes naturally, you can do many things to boost this development yourself. There are things you can do on a daily basis, on a weekly basis, or a monthly basis and so on. What I do every day is use the social media-with Facebook being at the top of my list! I use them to read articles, blogs, interact with colleagues in my country or around the world and get informed about events related to my profession. I think that the social media have opened new horizons for teachers.What I believe to be the most important advantage of using the social media is that I got to know people I admire and respect and who I like to hear from regularly. Sharing is precious and it has become easier with the social media.
On a weekly basis, I try to attend a webinar. It is not always possible but there are so many webinars going on out there, on so many topics, that I find it hard to resist. This is another way to watch and listen to and learn from people you might never be able to meet in person. Experts, professors, personalities with huge contribution to education worldwide. Plus,there is always interaction with other colleagues again and again you may be able to make new acquaintances.
On a monthly basis, I try to write on my blog. This makes me better in a sense that I usually sit down and collect information about the topic I want to write about. I also read opinions of others on the topic to get a broader sense. I like getting feedback on my blog posts as a way to start a conversation on topics of common interest with colleagues.
My favourite way of professional development, though, are MOOCs. It is a love I discovered two years ago and ever since I never stopped taking new courses on various topics related to teaching. Teaching using technology,teaching students with dyslexia, teaching character, the psychology of teaching and many more. Not only do I learn things on issues I am interested in, but I also have the chance to be a student again. I find a pleasure in trying to feel like my students feel as learners and be reminded of the difficulties and their worries .
As a general way to develop I try to attend workshops, seminars or conventions as often as I can, although this is not always easy as I live away from Thessaloniki and Athens, which usually host such events.
Professional development is intertwined with teaching if you really love what you do and you are serious about it. In my future plans is exploring the area of PLNs, and trying to set up a virtual classroom for my students. I try to get as much information as I can before I start. I feel we are really blessed to be in the field of education because we are given infinite opportunities for professional development. We only have to choose a domain or more every time and let the journey begin!