2018 is coming to an end and we are all starting to make plans for the upcoming year. Apart from our personal resolutions, we all wonder what is in store for us in our professional life. In this post, we'll talk about CPD, provide definitions and give some suggestions on initiatives you can take to develop professionally in 2019.
What is CPD?
Many teachers around the globe start their careers after going through an initial training course (such as the CELTA, CertTESOL and other TESOL courses) or finishing a BA in Languages. Not unlike any other profession, initial training will just equip them with the basic necessary skills to perform their jobs. Development, on the other hand, aims at going beyond these initial skills and allowing professionals to develop a deeper understanding of what they do, mature their competences and reflect upon their practice.
Institutions like the British Council and Cambridge Assessment English have come up with useful frameworks to assist teachers in their careers. These frameworks describe different areas that ELT professionals need to work on to perform their jobs effectively. Some of the categories include knowing about learners and learning, awareness of the English language and teaching methodology, and understanding resources, materials and assessment methods.
With so many different areas to improve, it is sometimes hard for teachers to know what to prioritise, not to mention to decide where and how to invest their financial resources. Also, teachers might feel pressured by their employees to obtain formal qualifications. An important thing to remember, however, is that CPD can be a mix of formal and informal learning opportunities, and it should not be a checklist of certificates and courses.
Many authors defend the idea that continuing professional development should be based on the teacher's needs and involve reflection upon practice, collaboration with peers and be sustainable. In the next section, you'll find some ideas, recommendations and suggestions to develop professionally and help your leaners reach their goals more successfully.
In order to devise a feasible CPD plan, it is important to first assess your current situation and identify the areas you'd like to work on. A useful tool for self-assessment is Donald Freeman's KASA framework, which can help you list and prioritise your developmental needs. Cambridge English has also developed a Teaching Framework that aims at helping teachers identify their developmental stage in five different categories: Learning and the Learner, Teaching, Learning and Assessment, Language Ability, Language Knowledge and Awareness and Professional Development and Values.
CPD initiatives do not need to involve direct financial investment. A vital first step is to reflect upon your practice in a systematised way. Keeping a reflection journal, observing lessons and receiving feedback from peers and more experienced teachers might help you reflect upon your teaching, lesson planning, practices and learners.
Another action that might help you is to self-observe: recording your own lessons, watching them and analysing the effectiveness of your teaching and your students' response to the lesson.
There are plenty of online tools and articles that can help you become a reflective teacher. We listed some of them below:
Writing a teaching diary, by the British Council
What is a reflective journal, by the University of Warwick
A list of lessons you can observe online, by Sandy Millin
Reading and Studying
There is a plethora of free and paid resources in print and online where you can find ELT-related blog, journals, magazines and YouTube channels.
The ET Professional has some useful lists of blogs and books for novice and more experienced teachers. In 2017, they launched a list of blogs to follow that is still very updated. Earlier this year, we were very proud to feature in the list of 10 books for CELTA trainees and new teachers.
Here's our personal list of free online resources that you might find useful:
ELT Training, by Jo Gakonga
ELT Experiences, by Martin Sketchley
Macmillan Education ELT
International House World Organisation
British Council Teaching English
ELT Jam blog
ELT-resourceful, by Rachel Roberts
Reflective Teaching Reflective Learning, by Lizzie Pinard
An A-Z of ELT, by Scott Thornbury
Informed Teachers, by Raquel Ribeiro
Film English, by Kieran Donaghy
Luiz Otavio Barros
There are many more missing. Please include your favourite ELT-related blog in the comment session below!
Magazines and Journals:
Teaching can be a very lonely endeavour sometimes. Online collaboration and social networking sites have made it possible to share and be in touch with teachers all around the globe. Exchanging ideas with fellow teachers can help you learn more about students, gather new teaching ideas, learn about methodologies, approaches and techniques, and broaden your professional network.
Participating in Teachers' Associations, such as IATEFL and TESOL, going to conferences and participating in online communities might enable you to keep in touch with teachers and teacher trainers all around the world. You can also collaborate with your local Teachers' Association - here in Brazil we can count on BRAZ-TESOL and online communities such as BrELT.
We hope this post was useful! Please feel free to leave a comment suggesting different ways of developing professionally. We also look forward to your feedback and suggestions for future posts.
See you in 2019!
Andreia Zakime is an Academic Coordinator at Cultura Inglesa São Paulo, a CELTA tutor and one of the co-founders of What is ELT?