Professional Development for Now and the Future (Inspired by @michaelegriffin)

(Photo from #eltpics: taken by Chiew Pang, aka @AClilToClimb)
(Photo from #eltpics: taken by Chiew Pang, aka @AClilToClimb)

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

  1. 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 learning 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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?
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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!

36 thoughts on “Professional Development for Now and the Future (Inspired by @michaelegriffin)

  1. Nicely said and commentated. I think I will “develop” well this year. I am not quite sure what will become of me but I am having 10 out of 11. With the exception of 6 (since I am teaching only chemistry) this year’s plans are “overloaded”. Have a nice time.

  2. Hi Vicky!
    thank you so much for the advice! I’ll stick to reflection, which has turned out to be really precious to me since I started teaching. To be honest, I’d given it up for a while, finding excuses like lack of time or work overload pretty convenient to myself:)
    I’ve started using a personal journal again a few months ago, the moment I enrolled in another online teacher training course and had to keep notes on my work. And yes, I found out that I do make mistakes, no matter how long I’ve been teaching! Mistakes are there to remind us that we are lifelong learners. Reflecting on lessons we’ve delivered doesn’t mean that we’re criticizing ourselves, it’s a way to distance ourselves from the class, make self-observation and come up with fresh and creative ideas. The more we reflect, the better for our learners as well.
    Thanks again,
    Have an amazing new Year!

    1. Dear Nora mou,

      Thanks so much for your comment! Great to hear that you are keeping a journal – I should and will do this again this year! I absolutely love your statement towards the end:

      Reflecting on lessons we’ve delivered doesn’t mean that we’re criticizing ourselves, it’s a way to distance ourselves from the class, make self-observation and come up with fresh and creative ideas.

      Amazing! Have a wonderful New Year!!!

      Polla filakia,

  3. Hi Vicky, nice ideas for the new year….I’m focusing on ‘learning something new’ as in new technologies for teaching! Have a great 2013 !! Natasha

  4. Vicky,
    What an excellent post from an inspiring educator! I am sharing it with my colleagues in my first CPD-related email of the year.

    I am with you on point #4 – although I observed other teachers last year (part of my job) I wasn’t observed myself and I hope to change it very soon!

    All the best for 2013!

    1. Dear Leo,

      Many thanks – I am so happy you liked it and I appreciate that you will share it! I hope your colleagues like it. I agree with you and would like to be observed as well more often this year.

      A great New Year to you too!

  5. Dear Vicky,
    There’s one I’d love to add, which I’m sure we all know, is ‘writing’ also hugely contributes to professional development. Writing for ELT journals, magazines, blogs. I think it’s because when we write, we put deeper thoughts into what we write, which isn’t the case when we’re speaking (as we speak more spontaneously). At least for me, I find that writing actually helps me explore my inner thoughts and experiences as a teacher. And reading the writings of other teachers definitely inspires me and gets me thinking about how I can become a better teacher. :). So there you go….

    Have a wonderful 2013, Vicky!


    1. Dear Ratna,

      AMAZING addition! I totally agree. Writing and reading: journals, blogs, more of that this year for me! It does help : )

      Thanks so much,

  6. Hi Vicky!
    Loved the blog and loved this inspring post! I think as an educator, we all need to catch up with many techniques as well as everything going around ourselves in order to be efficient in our classrooms.
    I sometimes get exhausted by the amount of work I am doing, but still I have been quite successful in managing my time and sparing my valuable time for whatever I need to insert in my life.
    I carry my novel in my bag as an example and read it on the bus to go to work and I spend a certain amount of time to read good, inspiring blogs and methods that the other valuable educators share on the social networks life fb,or twitter.
    I have got a hobby which is dancing and I spend some time for that which makes me happy, revived and I even use the styles while practicing drama with my Ss. More than anything else, one can’t be happy unless he/she adds something to herself and to others and leave some positive effect, regardless of being small or big…Good luck!

    1. Dear Gita,

      Thank you so much for your comment : ) I am so happy you make the time for yourself to do what you like the most – I have been really bad at that the last three or four years, but it’s about to change : ) What kind of dancing do you do?

      I wish you all the best for 2013!

  7. While these are all good suggestions, the advice is a little generic. Don’t get me wrong, I love your blog and am glad to have recently become acquainted with Mike’s, but this is a pretty standard list of things that teachers could/should do.

    What I’d *love* to see you do is expand each one of these points into a separate blog post and give us specific examples of how you plan to implement each of these. Now THAT would make for some great blogging!

    I tend to schedule my plans at the start of the academic year, so I wrote my own prof-dev post back in September:

    Come on Vicky, give us more posts and tell us how these plans pan out across the year!

    1. Adam, you are great!

      Thanks for the idea, which has definitely made me think – Mike’s list is so necessary for teachers, no matter where in their career they are in. I wrote this post to have it out there and to commit to doing more of these this year and in the future. Especially the observe / being observed part. I need to start doing that again – once I do, and believe me, I will! – I will definitely blog about it!

      Thanks so much for your feedback and making me think!

      1. Yes, great idea Adam. This post, Vicky, reminds me of a talk I did a couple of years ago in Mexico and Buenos Aires on this topic and there are even more ideas for us to choose from – the slides are available here:
        This is a great time of year for us to be thinking of what we can add to our CPD (are teachers the only people who still make New Year’s resolutions? 🙂 ).
        I definitely recommend making sure you guys get observed more – definitely the best way to develop for me. I’m being observed tomorrow, so will choose Join conferences as my ‘new’ one for this year. I need to make sure I go to LABCI ( even if I have to walk there!

  8. Vicky!
    Inspiring as always! How are your Turkish studies going?
    Teaching something new doesn’t have to be new material but can also be in a different way, such as using edtech. Am seriously involved in using Edmodo for the first time – a whole new experience!
    May this be a wonderful year for you!

    1. Hi Naomi!

      Thanks so much – all thanks to Mike, who inspired me in turn : )

      My Turkish: I love the language! I have found an online program I’m doing almost every day, with podcasts & will soon start with a teacher! It is so interesting : )

      Do let me know how Edmodo goes – I am registered on it, but have never used it – I could use your tips!

      Wishing you a great year as well!

  9. Hi Vicky,
    and thanx for the post. The time was ripe for me to read it…
    Last June I finished a three-year teacher training course here in Switzerland, and to be honest, I was exhausted by the end. So my autumn semester 2012 was quite tiring, stressful and without spending much time on reflective practice.
    However, now I feel something’s missing and the lack of nourishing interaction with other English teachers is making me cross and dissatisfied…
    So my first new year resolution was to start a blog. Did that 🙂
    Next step will be AGM in Sierre (can’t wait!!!)
    And then … we’ll see, I am happy and eager to see what will come along!

    1. Dear Sirja,

      Happy to see you are going to start interacting again with other educators. Courses can be exhausting and drain us of all motivation – and that is completely understandable. So – hearing about your blog is great news and keep up the good work! And see you at the AGM!

      Best wishes,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s