Some ESL teachers actively seek out professional development opportunities and genuinely look forward to them, while others dread getting the email about the next mandatory PD session. Whichever group you find yourself in, it’s important to be reminded of the “why” behind these workshops as well as to keep in mind what can be gained.
You can equate teaching English with any other skill. Let’s think about cooking for a moment. First, you learn how to cook over time. Then, you know how to cook by both following recipes and by combining ingredients you know will go together well. If you like cooking, or want to make better meals, you pay attention and look up new recipes to try and new foods to incorporate into your diet. You see what works and what doesn’t. You see who likes what best in your family.
The same process goes for teaching. You learn through doing, and after some time can create your own activities. You get to know your students and what will work for one group but not so well for another. To improve your teaching and your students’ enjoyment and progression in your class, you need to “look up” (participate in) events that will keep you up-to-date in the industry and give you new ways of doing things.
From methodology to classroom games, every PD session has something to offer. Why? Because you are with other teachers. Even if the presentation by your academic director is horrible, you have the option to either raise an issue/topic of discussion to turn things around, or to find time to talk to your peers about their insights. Even if you find just one piece of advice you plan to use or one new activity to implement in your next class, the session may have been well worth it.
By participating in professional development, teaching English becomes more than just a job or a means to travel. It starts turning into a rewarding career. Even if teaching it only temporary for you, why not try and be the best you can at it?
About the Author
Yvette Smith is an English teacher currently in Vietnam. She has taught in China and Mexico as well. She enjoys writing about the ESL field and thinks everyone should take the chance to travel abroad at least once in their lives.