Wherever we work, there comes a time when we feel ourselves getting comfortable. No longer a ‘newbie’, we know we’re pretty good at what we do, and that can be a dangerous time in our career. Rather than slacking off once you’ve got the basics down, this is the time to up your game and keep on improving. Even if you don’t want to chase promotions or move up the career ladder, there are always new things to learn and ways to improve yourself. Read this article for tips on how to continue your professional development as a TEFL teacher.
Look for opportunities to learn.
No matter how long you’ve been in the teaching game, there are always new things to learn, and they can come from surprising places. Observing a newbie teacher to help them improve might seem like it’s just for their benefit, but doing this can benefit you too. Perhaps they’ll demonstrate a game you’ve never used before or remind you of something you used to do all the time but haven’t done recently. You can also learn things from your students – maybe they’ll tell you about something another teacher did in class or ask for lessons on topics they’d like you to include. Opportunities to learn and diversify are all around you, so always be open to new ideas.
Remember back when you did your TEFL/CELTA course and, after an observed lesson, you had to reflect on how it went? Well, why not do that now? You could write it down in a diary or just put aside a few minutes after class to sit and think about it. What activities went well? Were there any activities that went badly? If so, why? What can you do next time to improve? Asking yourself these questions will help you to identify your strengths and weaknesses.
CPD (Continued Personal Development) courses.
You may have a TEFL or CELTA qualification under your belt already, but that’s no reason not to be looking out for more courses you can take. Paid qualifications, such as the TKT (teaching knowledge test) are a great way to learn new things and enhance your CV. There are also loads of free courses (i.e. MOOC’s) that you can take on websites such as Coursera and Futurelearn, as well as independent courses, such as the one offered by Super Simple Learning. Even if there’s no formal certificate at the end, a free course is worth doing to give you new ideas and enable you to come to lessons refreshed.
Try new ideas.
All teachers have their favourite games and activities that they like to use time and time again. However, if you keep repeating the same old thing, eventually the students (and the teacher!) will get bored with it. Spice things up with some brand-new games, and don’t worry if they don’t work the first time around. There are loads of books with ideas for games and classroom activities, as well as blogs you can read to get ideas.
Connect with other professionals.
If you spend a long time working with the same bunch of teachers (or work in a school where there are few other instructors, or perhaps you’re the only one!) things can get a little stagnant. If you don’t have the chance to work with and be inspired by a bunch of interesting and professional teachers, do some networking and find people to talk to. Search ‘tefl teacher forum’ to find groups where you can talk to other professionals. Perhaps you met some people on your TEFL course that you could get back in contact with? Wherever you find connections, it’s really useful to have other TEFL teacher friends who you can swap ideas with and be inspired by.
Join a TEFL community.
If you don’t manage to meet other professionals through TEFL forum’s, try joining an organisation. There are lots of organisations with websites where you can find out further information, and also events that you can attend to network and learn more about your industry. One example is IATEFL (the International Association for Teachers of English as a Foreign Language). There are also TEFL magazines you can subscribe to that will help you keep up to date with current TEFL news and give you further ideas.
If you work in a school with lots of teachers, one way to share knowledge is to run workshops. If your school already runs events of this sort, participate as often as you can. As well as attending workshops you could even run one yourself, remember that teaching is a great way to continue learning. If your school doesn’t have opportunities for development, look for online workshops and webinar’s that you can join.
No matter how long you’ve been teaching English as a foreign language, there are always things you can do to up your game. We never stop learning, and to find development as a teacher, you just have to implement that learning in a practical way. If you’re serious about development, set yourself some goals and a timeframe to complete them in.
About the Author
Celia Jenkins is a freelance writer and TEFL-trained English teacher who spent five years teaching in Asia. She specialises in travel writing and writing for children, and has a penchant for knitting. Celia is the author of Knitted Sushi (easy knitting patterns for beginners) and Ben and Maki – Let’s be Friends (an English/Japanese bilingual picture book). To contact Celia about freelancing work, check out her Upwork profile or contact Celia through her website.