Developing professionally in your work place – What does that mean to you?

We all want a positive work environment where we feel safe to share our ideas, projects, concerns, and challenges… where we can offer and seek advice aiming at a greater good: helping learners reach their goals and becoming the best possible professional we can become.

Right – that’s a lovely goal. How can we make it happen? First and foremost, we have to remind ourselves that our professional development is our own responsibility – nobody else’s.

Jordan Catapano’s article on Professional Development and the Teacher Leader can give us great insights on how to take responsibility for our own development. One possible way to think about it is to question ourselves more often to help us perceive where we are, clarify where we want to get and perhaps even how… So, here are some thought-provoking questions to inspire us all:

How do you see yourself in your workplace? When you think about your job, does it come like ‘the school’ and ‘the learners’ or ‘our school’ and ‘our learners’? Why?

The lessons you prepare are for you or for your learners? How can you tell?

Are you willing to share your successes and things that worked out well with any teacher, regardless of personal preferences or differences?

Do you consider yourself part of a team and work towards the success of the team rather than your own only? Can you really see that if the school thrives, it is due to all the staff working together towards a common goal?

Are you willing to revisit your beliefs and practices? Or just the thought of it makes you feel tired?

Do you still get excited when you (re)read methodology books, prepare a lesson to try (new) things out and can perceive the results as the lesson unfolds before your very eyes?  

Can you feel the joy when other teachers experiment this very same feeling and celebrate their achievements and discoveries together?

Going back to our initial question – How can we make it happen? – Well, why don’t we always (re) start by looking at our own choices, attitudes and actions: to what extent they have been contributing to our own success and that of our workplace?

Some may say that it would be looking at life through rose-coloured glasses, but I do believe teaching to be a great privilege, and one of the great perks this profession offers us is to have the opportunity to work collaboratively with other teachers and staff towards a common goal!

Finally, also inspired by Jordan’s article, here are some final thoughts on taking responsibility for our own development :

Let’s always walk our talk – we demand a lot from learners, so let’s always set the example!

Instead of just complaining and pointing out problems, be part of the solution, look for possibilities and opportunities; share your vision of a better way to do things and acknowledge what others have to say.

Be professional and ethical at all times: it is not a burden, but what we all would like to see in others – so let’s start with ourselves!

Let’s dream of great things, but most importantly, let’s find realistic ways to put ideas into practice, no matter how small they are or how long it takes.

And last but not least, make sure to have fun while developing professionally!



  • Arnold, J. (ed) (1999) Affect in Language Learning, USA: Cambridge University Press
  • Williams, M. and Burden, R.L. (2010) Psychology for Language Teachers, USA: Cambridge University Press
  • Catapano, J. Professional Development & the Teacher Leader [online] Available at [accessed 04-2017]

Lenora Haranaka

Lenora Haranaka is a teacher and teacher trainer based in Campinas-SP, Brazil. She has been an English language teacher since 1998 and currently works at Associação Cultura Inglesa São Paulo, where she has worked as a coach and mentor training novice and experienced teachers since 2014 and as an Assistant Manager since 2019. An ICELT and DELTA holder, she has presented in ABCI and Braz-Tesol conferences. Her academic interests are Continuous Professional Development, Teacher Training, Teaching Teens and YLS, Pronunciation, ELT Methodology and Leadership & Management in Education.

  • Siomara Zanca
    Posted at 16:01h, 29 abril Responder

    You’re great! I’ve had the privilege to be your student for one single day and that was an amazing experience! Your creativity, endurance and class management really called my attention. You’re an inspiring teacher for sure. Wish the best of luck in your future endeavours.

    • Lenora Haranaka
      Lenora Haranaka
      Posted at 09:17h, 22 maio Responder

      Dear Siomara,
      Thank you SO much for such kind words! It means a lot to me that you enjoyed the post =)
      Hope to see you again!

  • Sandy Millin
    Posted at 16:51h, 14 maio Responder

    “Make sure to have fun while developing professionally!” That’s exactly what I was aiming for when I wrote my ebook 🙂 Lots of questions and ideas for development, and the chance to share with a wider community. Here’s the info: The first one’s designed for new teachers, but I’m hoping to add more to the series soon!
    Thanks for writing this and sorry for being cheeky and advertising on it!

    • Lenora Haranaka
      Lenora Haranaka
      Posted at 09:29h, 22 maio Responder

      Dear Sandy,
      Thank you for your cheerful and enthusiastic comment, and for sharing your ebook!
      Glad to be of help to spread great ideas and reach more people 😉 And I have to tell that your website was a HUGE help and inspiration to me while taking the DELTA!!! Great pleasure to hear from you!!!
      Lenora H.

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