Reading educational literature, enrolling in university courses, and attending workshops are probably the most common and traditional forms of professional development in our field. Let’s consider some other possibilities that can work well with tight budgets and busy schedules:
- Talk with other teachers. There are many reasons why every school should provide teachers with a staff room. One reason is to provide a sense of unity. In some ways, our work can feel isolating because we continually stand alone in front our students to face the task of teaching. In the staff room we should find a source of support; with our colleagues we can share our excitement over a great lesson as well as our concern over a lesson that wasn’t as successful as we had hoped. Getting colleagues’ feedback on choices we made and hearing alternative approaches to teaching topics is highly valuable; we gain insight and affirm the idea that teaching can be a shared experience. Here’s one specific suggestion: Most staff rooms have a communication board, and one part of it could be reserved for questions to provoke thought. Any teacher should be welcome to post the question of the day. Discussing a tricky grammar point or difficult vocabulary word can lead to a better understanding and, thus, better teaching.
- Tap into an online teaching community. Good for you! You’re already doing this. Professional support can be found beyond the staff room and on the Internet. Blogs and discussion boards can certainly expand a teacher’s knowledge and promote the development of his or her skills. Do you know a few good sites for English teachers? Share them with your colleagues.
Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day
ESOL World News
Azar Grammar Series
- Observe other teachers. This may be uncomfortable at first especially for the one being observed, but there’s a reason why classroom observations are a key component of teacher training: learning through examples is effective. And for more experienced teachers? Classroom observations allow us to evaluate objectively the effectiveness of a particular approach and/ or strategy. We’re also given the opportunity to compare and contrast our teaching with others’. You can always return the favor by opening your door to your colleagues; strive to create a supportive relationship with other staff.
(To Be Continued)