In 2018, after some 37 years in the TESL field, I joined the TESL Ontario Board. This is the ideal volunteer challenge for me at this point in my life. I am keen to do what I can to contribute to the health of the organization and, most importantly, to the ongoing professionalization of TESL. Throughout the life of a teacher, you gain perspective as your career progresses and at one point you realize that you are ready to pitch in and give some time to the profession at large.
I started in this field in 1980, completing a CTESL and then spending a few years teaching abroad, in Greece. It was there that I realized that I loved teaching ESL, to the point where I was determined to make it my life’s work. When I returned, it quickly became clear that it was going to be a struggle to develop a career in TESL here, but I was so hooked on teaching, I found a way to make it work. I took on every classroom and tutoring opportunity that I could, while working on my Master’s degree and later a PhD as well. A lot of us know how this works, the teaching is exhausting but also so stimulating that it generates energy to do other career-related things.
It was back in the 80s that I took the first tentative steps toward volunteering with TESL Ontario, on the Ottawa Affiliate board. I went on to edit TESL Ontario CONTACT, then returned to volunteering with the Standards Committee and the Conference Committee. I love being on committees, it is invigorating to interact on common goals with people from different backgrounds and contexts. Volunteering like this takes you out of your workplace and into the larger world of the field – it’s amazing how the challenges are similar across the huge TESL spectrum.
Being on the Board is really fulfilling, even if I still have a lot to learn. It is giving me a real sense of the inner workings of the organization and its relationships with other organizations. It’s also giving me a renewed sense of how committed people are in this business. The staff at 27 Carlton Street and the volunteers, board members, committee members, and affiliate executive really work hard to maintain TESL as a profession and to make sure that the membership is respected and solidly supported. This means a lot in these times of uncertain educational policies and ever-increasing immigration and international student numbers across Ontario.
Thanks to TESL
I feel that my life would never have been like this if not for TESL. I feel that if I can, it is important for me to spark that love for the field in other teachers. I feel that all those I have taught or worked beside have been inspiring and that it is vital for me to do what I can to strengthen the field in turn.
I am so pleased to be on the Board and to help TESL Ontario work toward making teaching English as a second language a true professional endeavor.
Post written by David Wood, Professor, Director School of Linguistics and Language Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa