09 jan 2014 New Years’s resolutions: continuous professional development
The beginning of a new year usually gets us thinking about the plans that we want to make, improvements that we wish to promote and changes that we would like to witness in our personal lives. It is therefore the perfect opportunity to devise actions to ensure growth in the professional realm too. In this first post of mine, I would like to invite you to reflect upon your New Year’s resolutions with a special focus on professional development.
As English teachers, we need to constantly look for ways to learn more about the language itself, enhance our repertoire of teaching techniques, deepen our understanding of the theories behind the acquisition of a foreign language and expand our professional network. However, we all know how difficult it can be to find the time to engage in new activities since our schedule is usually crazy! Our tendency is to postpone the investment in ourselves until later – sometimes when it is already too late. As a consequence, the need to organize our lives to create opportunities for professional development becomes greater. And the arrival of a new year might be the perfect moment to sit down and plan how exactly we will make it happen.
There are several courses for English teachers in the market. Some will focus on language, others will prepare us for exams and some revolve around methodology and specific teaching skills. It is important to look at our professional history and career objectives in order to select the most appropriate course for us. After having chosen what knowledge and experience will add more value to our practice, we should then look at the alternatives and decide where we want to enrol. Another important criterion to be taken into account is the kind of investment that we are willing to make – both in terms of time and money. Some courses are reasonably priced whereas others will demand higher investments. The same thing happens to time – there are fairly short courses but there are longer ones too. Overall, the most important thing is to choose the kind of commitment that you are willing to make quite carefully before embarking on these waters. We don’t want to realize that we have bitten more than we can chew in the middle of a training programme.
But professional development is not limited to taking courses. There are many other strategies, techniques and initiatives that can help us become more effective practitioners. We can create learning communities, get involved with new projects, write journals or embrace new challenges. What really matters is that we keep pushing ourselves towards further learning in order to provide our students with better education. Accepting to contribute to this great blog is one of my own New Year’s resolution – a different challenge that I believe – and hope – will push me forward and allow me to contribute to my community. What are your plans?