Planning to thrive in 2015

It is that time of the year again.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been the type of guy who devotes quite a lot of time to planning his new year’s resolutions and, at the end of the year – now! – has no idea what they were or whether he’s achieved them. I’m not at all proud of that, but there you have it.

Life gets in the way, you know. Too many classes, too many students, too many projects. You start writing a book (again!), you start a course (and drop it!) again, you promise you’re going to lose weight (and put on some) again. And at the end of the year, instead of pondering all that you have not achieved and speculating as to the reasons why you haven’t, you make similar plans for the year ahead. And the rest is history.

I hope that doesn’t sound/feel familiar.

Well, 2014 was a terrific year for me.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty amazing. I did actually lose quite a lot of weight, have all but finished my first book (which is hopefully coming out in early 2015), resumed a course I’d dropped and have not dropped it again (at least not yet), became a member of the executive board of an association I deeply admire, and have mostly managed to work towards achieving the goals I’d set out to achieve 12 months ago. Although I confess I don’t quite remember them all so well, I believe I’ve successfully achieved most of them.

I can almost hear you thinking: “OK, congrats and whatever… But is there a point to all this?” There is, actually. I’m glad you asked.

I firmly believe life will always get in the way if we let it. I’m not planning – and I imagine you aren’t either – to get any less busy in the next many, many years. If anything, I am hoping to get busier. I want to teach more classes, write other books, do more courses, learn more English, have a child, do voluntary work, go to all of the Braz-TESOL and IATEFL conferences forever (and maybe also TESOL if I win the lottery, who knows?), spend lots of time with friends and family etc. I keep wanting more, you know. And if I’m only going to work on my professional development, if I’m only going to actually concentrate on becoming a better teacher when I have time… well, that’s simply never going to happen. Or it will when – and if – I ever retire, which sort of defeats the purpose a little, doesn’t it?

So here’s the point I’ve been trying to make: Professional development is not something to work on when we ‘have time’. It’s something to start pursuing right now! Well, ok, maybe not right now, as it’s Christmas time and everything. But in 2015, starting in January, preferably in the first week, sooner rather than later! We must start working on becoming better, more effective and affective teachers immediately, and we must do it consistently and always.

Have you always wanted to do a CELTA course? Why not now? (Of course, money is an issue. But are you saving? Are you planning?) Or perhaps what you want is the CPE? A degree in English? Or perhaps an MA? How about your reading? Have you read Jeremy Harmer? Scott Thornbury? How about the people Harmer quotes in his books? What was the last professional article you read? Do you subscribe to any ELT publications? How about all the incredible free videos available on YouTube, like for instance Adrian Underhill’s on the phonemic chart? Have you seen that one? How about your English skills? Are you confident in your ability to communicate in English? Are you a good language model for your learners? Have you been studying? Have you had your classes observed? Have you observed your peers? What else? What else is there? Who can guide you? How to plan for all this?

I’ve asked many of these questions to myself in the past 12 months (several of them for the past 15 years), and the answers have often embarrassed me a little. Sometimes more than a little. This is why I’ve decided that in 2015, here on RichmondShare, I’ll be writing about teacher development. I’ll be focusing on a different area of TD every month, and hopefully in a year’s time we’ll have discussed many successful strategies to help us all move forward, get better, achieve more.

I’ll finish this post now by sharing three very important professional goals I have for 2015, and it’d be amazing if you did the same here in the comments if you will. Then we can come back here in December 2015 and check how successful we’ll all have been. Here are mine:

–       I’ll finish my Trinity DipTESOL in mid-August 2015;

–       By December 19, 2015, I’ll have finished writing my second book, and the first one will have been published;

–       By December 2015, I’ll have written 12 posts on teacher development here on RichmondShare.

I’m looking forward to reading yours! 🙂

Thanks for reading, merry Christmas, and I wish us all a fantastic year of professional (and personal) development!

PS: Big thanks are owed to my friends Ilá Coimbra and Débora Possani for reading this first. Thanks, girls!

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Higor Cavalcante

Higor Cavalcante is a teacher and teacher educator based in São Paulo, Brazil. He’s been in ELT for going on 19 years now, and his main interests in the area are language development for teachers, extensive reading, and pronunciation. He is the first vice president of BRAZ-TESOL, as well as the author of ‘Inglês para professor’, published in 2015 by Disal, and the upcoming ‘Inglês para professor 2’. Find out about his courses for teachers at

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