Theme: Power of Networking for Leadership and Teachers’ Professional Development
Every teacher embarks on a maiden voyage into teaching with little or no experience. However, the challenges to keep abreast of the modern development in pedagogical approaches; bring in innovation into teaching and learning contexts to prepare creative, critical independent learners for global citizenship urge teachers to think about developing themselves during their teaching careers. To that end, they look into opportunities for their professional development on their own or through institution of their affiliation i.e., schools/colleges or any teachers’ professional association(s). Now there are a number of professional associations across the globe to help teachers for enhancing knowledge and professional development through sharing and networking within the community of like-minded professionals.
Generally, teacher’s role is believed to be restricted within classroom teaching and learning context. However, with the changing contexts, teachers now have challenges and opportunities to redefine their traditional roles of being a mere teacher to researcher, administrator, trainer, teacher educator, and a leader in the field. With the aggressive development of technology and its integration into teaching and learning contexts, it has increasingly broadened the horizons for teachers to learn and share among professional communities through networking and collaboration.
It’s only lately that the 21st NELTA International Conference is over with invigorating zeal and enthusiasm among teachers across the country and from abroad. The mega ELT event organized every year provided an incredible platform for teachers from across the country for their professional development. We have, thus, concentrated the current issue on professional networking among teaching professionals in the light of teachers’ professional development.
The first entry entitled ‘Leadership Development for Multilingual/Multicultural English-speaking Teachers’ by Dr. Yilin Sun, the past president of TESOL International debunks the myths about leadership in teacher association like TESOL International. Dr. Sun shares her personal anecdote from joining TESOL as a member to becoming a president of the world’s largest teachers’ professional organization.
Dr. Bedrettin Yazan in his entry ‘Networking through interest sections in TESOL: NNEST-IS’ underlines the benefits of networking at TESOL International in general and NNEST-IS in particular for one’s professional development. In his entry, he relates his professional journey about his participation in NNEST-IS that has significantly contributed in shaping his professional identity as a teacher, teacher educator, and educational researcher. Dr. Laxman Gnawali in his entry ‘Teacher Associations and Personality Development’ discusses the five dimensions regarding the significance of being associated with teacher associations for personality and professional development. This article vividly reflects his own experience of joining NELTA that has helped shape his professional identity, personality, professional, and leadership development over the years.
The fourth entry by Keshav Prasad Bhattarai on “Professional Experience and Development through TEA is a reflective account of his exhilarating experience of a six-week intensive teacher training under the Teaching Excellence Award (TEA) program at the Bowling Green State University in Ohio, USA. In his last entry, ‘How not to screw up on social media?’ Umesh Shrestha, interestingly presents a prank of an English teacher on Facebook. He argues such a prank on the social media might be disastrous for “teachers living under intense public scrutiny”. He then points out five significant ways an English language teacher can use social media, especially Facebook for meaningful interactions with students and among professionals, networking opportunities, professional development and so forth.
Here is a list of the contents incorporated in this March issue of the NELTA Forum and are hyperlinked for ease!
- Leadership Development for Multilingual/Multicultural English-speaking Teachers by Dr. Yilin Sun
- Networking through interest sections in TESOL: NNEST-IS by Dr. Bedrettin Yazan
- Teacher Associations and Personality Development by Dr. Laxman Gnawali
- Professional Experience and Development through TEA by Keshav Prasad Bhattarai
- How not to screw up on social media? by Umesh Shrestha
- Professional Practices Series- “Understanding Learners’ Preferences” by Katherine Bilsborough
PS: Please refer to the Professional Practices Series tab to go through the interesting and informative article on “Understanding Learners’ Preferences” by Katherine Bilsborough.
We would like to extend our appreciation to all the valued contributors for their articles. Moreover, we would request you all to read, comment, and share your thoughts and reflection, thereby engaging in healthy discussion and debate in ELT scholarship.
Laxmi Prasad Ojha
Leadership Development for Multilingual/Multicultural English-speaking Teachers
*Dr. Yilin Sun
Dear NELTA friends and colleagues,
Greetings from Yilin, Past President of TESOL International Association! It is a great pleasure and honor for me to be invited to write this article on leadership development for your March issue.
Since your March issue is centered on the theme leadership and networking, I thought to share some personal perspectives on leadership development. In this article, I used the term Multilingual/Multicultural English-speaking Teachers (MMEST) to replace the term of Non-native English Speaking Teachers (NNEST) as we need to move beyond the historical Native Speaker vs. Non-Native Speaker Dichotomy.
Who can become a leader for a professional organization? As multilingual/Multicultural English educators, especially new teachers, many tend to say, “I’m just graduate student,” or “I’m not a native-speaker”, or “I’m just a new teacher in the field. How can I take a leadership role with established professionals?”
Let me share a personal story of how I got started. When I was a young graduate student at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE)/University of Toronto in Canada about 29 years ago, my professors, like Jim Cummins, David Sterns, Dale Willows and Michael Canale encouraged us to attend professional conferences. I remember my first conference was a TESOL Ontario’s annual conference. I was so excited hopping from one session to another, eagerly taking notes and gathering handouts. Then I ran into one of my professors Dr. Canale. We started talking and soon he encouraged me by saying, “Yilin, have you thought of presenting at this conference? You have unique experience and perspectives. You should think of using one of your papers to present at a conference.” I was startled and also felt flattered that Michael, such a well-known scholar thought my paper was good enough to share with others at a professional conference. Before his enlightening comments I thought as a young graduate student from China that my best plan was to study hard and be the best student I could be. I never thought of making a presentation at a professional conference until then; not to mention of becoming a leader for a professional organization. Because of Professor Canale’s encouragement, the following year I submitted a proposal and presented! The topic was on A Speech Act – Gratitude Expressions in Chinese. To my pleasant satisfaction my presentation was well received by my audience; this was a memorable start for me. Following this, I continued to look for more opportunities to make presentations for informing and encouraging others. Along the way I fortunately met and got to know other professionals and many scholars. Some inspired me and many helped me greatly in my later work. Each encounter provided me with more valuable experience and led me to taking on different leadership roles including serving WAESOL (Washington Association for the Education of Speakers of Other Languages) as president and as president of TESOL International. Even though Professor Canale did not start me with any direct leadership positions, the first presentation at that TESOL Ontario conference helped me build confidence, skills and network opportunities for my later involvement in various leadership roles. Everyone has that first time experience and sometimes needs someone to give us a PUSH!
In addition to lack of confidence, many other challenges, such as unfamiliarity with the system’s culture and structure, organizational ‘prejudice’, lack of support and opportunities may also be possible barriers for a NNEST to step up. And perhaps some of the biggest obstacles are myths about leadership and who can be a leader that we need to demystify. Continue reading →
Networking through interest sections in TESOL: NNEST-IS
*Dr. Bedrettin Yazan
When I was asked to write a blog entry on my networking experiences in TESOL International, I said to myself that I was not the best person to talk about it, because I have never felt like I have been able to use my time at the national and international conferences efficiently for networking purposes. However, then I thought it would be helpful for the readership if I shared my experiences, in general, becoming an active member of TESOL Non-native English Speaker Teachers (NNEST) Interest section (IS). Since Wenger’s (1998) idea of communities of practices could be very instrumental to understand the ways in which TESOL international and each one of its interest sections function, I will be referring to some concepts from his book in this entry.
I have been part of the NNESTIS (one of the 19 interest sections) in TESOL International for about seven years. I have had the distinct pleasure to serve as the co-editor (with Dr. Nathanael Rudolph) of the NNEST-IS Newsletter since 2012 and was elected as chair-elect effective as of the annual TESOL convention in Baltimore, MD during 5-8 April. Thanks to the community of the NNEST-IS, I have had the chance to meet and interact with TESOL professionals before and during the time of my editorial service. I cannot mention all the names here, but Madhukar is one of those great professionals I feel so honored to have met and stayed in touch with for about 4 years.
There is one crucial aspect of the NNEST-IS that I need to explain before I move on in this entry. Even though the name of this interest section could lead the readers to think that this interest section is ONLY for the non-native English speaker teachers, it is NOT the case. Regardless of their self-perceived nativeness or non-nativeness (two idealized binaries), any TESOL member can be part of the NNEST-IS activities. The main goal of this interest section is to promote professionalism and advocate for equitable professional relations in the field of English language teaching by fighting against the discourses of idealization and essentialization. Continue reading →
*Dr. Laxman Gnawali
“What do I get if I become a NELTA member?” is a common question faced by someone who is persuading a colleague to be part of this teacher association. In fact, it took me two years to take life membership of NELTA, which I did after two-year annual membership and one-year non-member status. I know there is always a kind of scepticism about the benefits one expects from a teacher association that is voluntary in nature. However, if one is involved in some events of the association, they will be convinced that there is more than meets the eye. A teacher association such as NELTA offers a myriad of opportunities for personal and professional development. And this is true for professionals working in the EFL context. In this short article, I discuss how one’s personality develops in several dimensions if one is affiliated to a teacher association and is involved its activities and initiatives.
The first thing that develops one’s personality is the feeling of identity and confidence. To be able to identify oneself with the professional association that has a national and international fame in itself is a feel-gooder. When we feel good about where we are and who we were with, we can work with more confidence, and confidence is a significant aspect of good personality.
The second change that happens in teacher association is the improvement of our communication skills. In fact, communication skill is the most important aspect of the personality. Whenever we have any events, formal or informal, we communicate with the people around us. After all, all that happens within a teacher association is communication: we write, we give sessions, we communicate online, we inquire and inform about what’s happening. Everything is communication. When we constantly communicate at the personal and professional level, our communication skills get better. Better communication skills are surely a sign of a better personality. And for EFL teachers, communication in English will also help improve their English language proficiency. Continue reading →
Professional Experience and Development through TEA
*Keshav Prasad Bhattarai
Undoubtedly, America continues to be dreamland for most of us. The first European Settlers might have similar mesmerizing experience upon their arrival on a ‘City upon a hill” as we TEA Fellows from almost nineteen countries had upon our first step on this great nation. Here, I share my comprehensive TEA experience regarding how it’s helped in my own professional development.
Many people (including Nepalese) have come to the US, got a good job and settled well in various professions of their choice. However, I assume only a few have got an opportunity of experiencing the American way of living like we are doing here now. It’s an incredibly amazing experiencing the real American life, enjoying the home stay with them, shopping at the Macy’s, driving off on the Hamer, visiting new places and making adventure on the top of Empire State and Rock Feller, exploring round of statue of Liberty and Elis Island, taking night light view of Niagara and so on. What’s more, the real knowledge of the US classroom experiences, being familiar with the classroom practices and technologies and attending the sessions of high level dignitaries, professors and technology instructors at the Bowling Green State University, can never be compared with any kind of materialistic advances and achievements for the teachers like us. It is not only from the sessions that we have attended but also from the assimilation and integration of 72 experts from 37 countries, their knowledge of culture, geography, political issues and issues of gender in different perspectives.
Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program (TEA) is the ground base platform that has presently made these all advances and achievement possible on our hands. It is a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State, and implemented by the International Research and Exchange Board (IREX). The program provides secondary school teachers from Europe, South and Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Near East and the Western Hemisphere with unique opportunities to develop expertise in their subject areas, enhance their teaching skills, and increase their knowledge about the United States and United States’ classrooms practices. Continue reading →