I was reading one of my favourite blogs this morning, ELT Rants, Reviews and Reflections by Mike Griffin. All of his posts stand out, but one particularly stood out, called Next Step(s) in Professional Development [Workshop Materials]. I believe that the tips Mike has included should be with us throughout our careers as educators. As I have mentioned before, the advantage in our profession is that we can learn something new every day!
Here are Mike’s tips in bold – my comments and thoughts follow.
Mike’s Suggestions for Professional Development
- Take a break! This is something I have been thinking about since last year, when I read a great post by Ceri Jones. Her post Flashes of Inspiration was exactly what I needed at that moment and a kind of awakening – sometimes we forget to make time for ourselves or take a break even for a few minutes. I have started to learn how to do that and I have decided to keep at it until I achieve this goal! I have also written about this in one of my recent posts, My Learning for 2012 – A Post for @iTDipro.
- Be a mentor. I started mentoring teachers when I still lived in Greece and have continued ever since. I think that I also learn from them and I have decided to do it even more this year. The same way I get motivation and useful feedback when I am with my mentors, I hope that the educators I advise get something out of it.
- Be a mentee. Eyes and ears open to my mentors this year, more than ever! I need to schedule more meetings with them. I know we are all pressured for time, but it is up to me to make more time. I appreciate their feedback and advice tremendously and this year it will happen more often!
- Observe and be observed (Observe yourself as well). I haven’t been in other educators’ classrooms for quite a while and will definitely start doing it again. As many times as I have observed other teachers, I have learned a great deal. I will also ask colleagues if they would like to come to my classes. I will be grateful for their feedback. Last year, I did not observe any classes at all or was observed at all – this has to change. Here is a great post by Gemma Lunn on observation, Self-Observation Part 1: How do I look?
- Study something new. (Another language?) That, I have already started – Turkish! It has been a goal of mine for years. Now is the time – and with a couple of trips in the pipeline this year to beautiful Turkey, I hope I can learn the basics at least in order to communicate with the lovely people. It is quite a challenge, but I am enjoying it. I love how it sounds! I have started with an online program and will start lessons with a teacher soon, hopefully.
- Teach something new. This has got me thinking…what could it be? It is a great idea! I’m all for new things this year.
- Experiment (and keep experimenting!) Different ideas for various learning styles, the same lesson in different versions, new types of technology, collaborative teaching, let the students take more and more ownership of their learning…the list is endless of what we can do!
- Use the internet effectively. (Places like Twitter/Facebook/teacher development groups/cafés) This I love doing and will encourage other educators to do more and more! I have not looked back on my decision to join Twitter three years ago, or Facebook a few months ago. I have learned so many things and have connected with so many great educators – I never get tired of saying how great connecting and networking is, be it over social media, or in teacher groups.
- Join conferences (think about presenting). This is another huge source of learning – conferences and workshops: not only attending, but the inbetween time as well, where teachers talk and network and have the chance to reflect. It is also great to take the plunge and present! Move out of your comfort zone. I have learned so much from presenting and I will also continue doing it this year.
- Reflect, reflect, reflect. Mike is the right person to give us this piece of advice – he is one of the people who emphasizes reflection and is a co-founder of the very first RPSIG worldwide (Reflective Practice Special Interest Group), based in South Korea. Get other teachers and set up reflection groups. Go to conferences and sessions on the topic. Write a journal, take notes – anything that can help you look on your teaching with a different eye – focus on the positive and negative points. This will definitely be a priority for me this year and from now on.
- Put yourself in new positions. This says it all. Try everything. Don’t be afraid – just try! Go back, do it differently. Reflect (here it is again!) and see what you did well. What didn’t work, you can fix another time! It can help us all externalise our abilities and discover ones that we did not know we had inside us.
Mike’s tips have been printed and gone into my Moleskine diary!