If you are a full-time teacher, chances are you are an extremely busy individual juggling lesson planning, resource creation, teaching and marking assignments with all the other things you need to take care of in your personal life. Even if you are determined to keep getting better as a teacher finding time to work on your professional development as well might seem near impossible. Luckily there are things you can do that don’t take a lot of time or effort, but which will help you to keep improving as a teacher.
To find out how working on your professional development could benefit you follow the link to this informative article on the Saxoncourt Teacher Training Blog.
Stay up to date.
Staying up to date with the latest developments in education will help to expand your theoretical knowledge and could inspire you to try new methods in your classroom. Join Twitter and follow people and institutions involved in teaching English as a foreign language. Find time to regularly go through the tweets, for example in the morning when you’re having breakfast or read them on the bus or the train on your commute. Include reading in your daily routine.
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Think on the go.
A great teacher development task you can do just about anywhere is to challenge yourself to come up with a language activity based on something you spot around you. Try to be creative and focus not only on coming up with an engaging activity but also on how the activity would help you to work on the areas you need to develop as a teacher. Look around you while waiting in a queue – could those sweet packets be used interesting pronunciation exercise? Next time you’re stuck in a traffic jam, why not think of an activity based on that big, flashy billboard? If you come up with a good idea don’t forget to take some photos to use in your lessons later.
Put teacher development ideas on post-its.
Keep a stack of post-its with you and every time you hear a good idea from another teacher, read an interesting article or think of something you would like to try in the classroom, note it down on a post-it. Write one idea per post-it and then stick it on your desk or somewhere you’ll see it when you plan your lessons. Each time you try one of the post-it ideas think if it worked well or if you would do things differently next time. Decide if you would use the new technique or activity you tried out again and make a note of it. Over time you’ll build up your own collection of great activities and teaching skills to use in the classroom. You can easily reorganise your post-its into different spaces to keep track of what worked well, what needs more work and what you still need to try.
Make a recording.
Have you ever wondered how you come across when you talk to the class? You might be surprised at what you discover when you film yourself practising explaining an activity you intend to use in the classroom. Use your phone or a camera to make a short recording of yourself and then watch the video. Being aware of how you look will help you to realise what changes you could make to improve your classroom presence. Moreover, if you are a new teacher making the videos and having a practice go or two before trying something new in the classroom might boost your confidence.
Reflect on your teaching
Keeping a diary or a lesson planner in which you to reflect on your lessons is something I cannot recommend enough for your professional development. After each lesson, when things are still fresh in your mind, take 5 minutes to note down what you felt went well and what you want to work on more. These observations will help you immensely when it comes to planning future lessons and will also help you to be more a more effective teacher by making you aware of the skills you need to develop further.
This 5-minute teacher development activity is great for both newbie teachers and those more experienced. Pair up with another teacher keen on their professional development – either at your school or online – and agree to regularly exchange teaching problems with them. Try to come up with solutions for each other’s teaching difficulties: you may be able to work on shared problems together or use your complementary skill sets to help each other. This will help you to consolidate your own ideas on teaching by explaining them to others and it will also provide you with a new point of view, a fresh teaching approach and ideas you might not have come up with. You could do this with several teachers to see what different approaches people take to address the same teaching difficulty.
Although in-depth reading and full-on courses can be important to progress in your teaching journey, most teacher development actually happens through the small everyday acts of reflection and exploration. If you work these 5-minute activities into your daily routine then over time you are sure to become a better, more effective teacher.
About the Author
Aleks Kaye completed a blended CELTA course while working full-time in Student Support at a university in the UK. She is currently spending a year in Canada with her husband David. You can read about their adventures at daleksabroad.travel.blog