Category Archives: Professional Development

Board Moments: 2018’s New Start

Teamwork, team connect hands togetherness concept, show connection and alliance. Teambuilding in the office, young businessmen and women in casual unite hands for teamwork and cooperation
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2018 has arrived with a lot of new energy and enthusiasm. At our first TESL Ontario board meeting of the year were 3 newly elected directors: Lara McInnis, Art Rekhtin and Amy Yani. Adding to that, David Hazell sits as the new Chair and I’m adding my efforts as the new Vice Chair. Other board members include Brett Basbaum, Alex Harchenko, Geoff Lawrence and returning secretary, Cheryl Fretz. The board is a great mix of experienced and newer members; with such diverse backgrounds, I am reminded of our vast membership.

TESL Ontario’s small staff has been hard at work since the conference in November 2017 and has been busy preparing many of the items raised at the AGM. It will be posted soon on our website. As for the board, planning has already started for the year ahead. We’re eagerly anticipating our joint meeting with the local Affiliate Chapter Representatives in early March. We only have the opportunity to meet twice a year, which is why it’s always a meeting we look forward to.

Having sat in on these meetings both at the affiliate and board level, the landscape of ESL in Ontario is clearly represented. To confess, as a LINC of many years, I often forget the thorny issues faced by my peers teaching in colleges and universities or the demands and challenges of those in administration and coordination. We’re all working towards the same goals of preparing our students for success. The joint meeting is also an opportunity to hear about what is happening in all 12 of TESL Ontario’s affiliate chapters.

My own affiliate chapter, TESL Ottawa, is showing such ambition in organizing new and innovative professional development opportunities. Our first “Ed Tech Jam” was inspired by what was happening in TESL Toronto’s annual T4T conference. TESL Durham tried out their first remote presenter from Ottawa a few years ago. Did you know that TESL Niagara has an “Eat, Talk, Learn” event? Or what about TESL Hamilton’s trivia nights? There’s so many creative opportunities happening at local levels and when we are able to come together, we can really share what works and what was learned.

It’s also an opportunity to come together to share what concerns we are seeing. PBLA seems to the newest acronym across most affiliates, but it’s old news in Ottawa. While international students seem to be dwindling in one area, another area has seen a surplus. One region has received federal pilot funding and another is facing job cuts. Our industry, it seems, is cyclical in nature. It’s either feast or famine. Every affiliate has faced this, and every affiliate has found a way to best handle the challenges.

The attitude at the board and at all local affiliates, I’m sure, is one of collaboration and teamwork. We’re here for each other as friendly colleagues and professionals with questions, suggestions, complaints, compliments and sparks of new ideas.

With the start of 2018, what questions and suggestions do you have for your local Affiliate Chapter? What new ideas would you like to share with the board?


Journaling – a Means to Enhance Research Writing

I did not know that I was a researcher until I did academic research for the first time. Like many fellow teachers, just hearing the word research used to make me cringe. It might be the vast implications that research entails that put teachers off, myself included. After all, we all do our own research on a daily basis, whether it is preparing for class, looking up or creating new material, providing feedback, etc. We need to give ourselves more credit, for we all do research, an argument supported by Parsons, Hewson, Adrian, and Day (2013), who claim that “research is less rocket science than carefully planned, rigorously attended activity” (p. 5). Continue reading


Don’t Just Think It: Blog It!

Blog Blogging Social Media Social Networking Online Concept
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Have you read this blog and thought hmm I wish they’d write about [insert relevant topic here] or read a post and thought I have another strategy for that? Maybe you’ve seen the emails over the years and thought that’d be neat, but I don’t know… Well, why not make this the year you take on a new adventure, come on board, and lead the conversation! Continue reading


Joining In: How I Joined the Board

multiple hands connecting in the centre with the words Join In written overtop the image
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Recently I had written about why I joined TESL Ontario and my local affiliate chapter in Ottawa. To follow up, I would like to explain how I went about the process in hopes that this would inspire others to see just how easy it is to participate. Having attended a number of TESL Ottawa events, I was in awe of the amount of work and effort put forth by the local volunteers. There were always messages encouraging new members to join its executive and when curiosity got the best of me, I Continue reading


Ways to Reflect on Your Teaching – A Practical Approach

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How often do you reflect on your teaching? Do you have enough time to reflect in a meaningful way? Reflective practice is an area I’m quite passionate about. However, I understand that many teachers struggle to find the time to reflect, or they may not know how to reflect in a way that enhances their teaching and benefits their learners. Making the time to reflect is key. I know first-hand the feeling of not having enough time to reflect when, for example, you have a pile of essays to mark. The second hurdle to reflection is figuring out how to reflect in a practical and purposeful way. In this post, I’d like to share some practical tools and ways to reflect Continue reading


Connecting and learning at the ISTE2017 Conference

In June, I attended the ISTE2017 conference in San Antonio, Texas. ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) is a non-profit organization serving over 100,000 educational stakeholders.  ISTE is at the forefront of educational technology, driving change and offering professional development throughout the year.

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TESL WW, May 2017 Conference: Thinking Critically

Teaching critical thinking through reading in the information age

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Attending PD conferences of your local chapter of TESL Ontario is a great way to meet other teachers, network, and learn new ideas and techniques to add to your teaching toolbox. On May 13th, I attended the Waterloo-Wellington Spring AGM and PD event. The theme was “Thinking Critically” and the guest speaker for the plenary session, Tyson Seburn, spoke on the topic of teaching critical reading in an age of (mis)information and fake news. Tyson Seburn is Lead Instructor of Critical Reading and Writing in the International Foundation Program at New College, University of Toronto, and he recently published a book entitled, Academic Reading Circles.

In this blog, I want to share some of the strategies that Tyson raised in his address Continue reading


National Volunteer Week: Let’s Make a Difference Together

image of people putting hands together with the word volunteer in text box
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I tried to scour the Internet for motivational/inspirational quotations to start this post. I wanted to really capture the essence of my intention and put it into words using a famous quotation or an iconic figure that would resonate with you. I read quotation after quotation, visited page after page, and no string of words truly said what I wanted to convey today.  Why is today so special? Why am I trying to find just the right combination of words? Continue reading


Thinking of facilitating a webinar?

image source: John Allan

If you are considering leading a webinar in the near future, I have some suggestions that might make your experience a little more enjoyable.  I was on the TESL Ontario Social Media Committee and became interested in the idea of running a webinar as the team matured and the range of session titles expanded.  I have to admit that I thought it would be a walk in the park as I have facilitated online workshops, meetings, courses and presentations before. However, the experience surprised me, as webinar facilitation involved additional features that required attention. Continue reading


5 Ways to Get Involved This Year

Group of Business People Using Digital Devices
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It’s 2017 and we’ve got some exciting ways for you to get involved with the TESL Ontario community! With each new year comes the reminder of our membership renewal – and our 10 hours of PD experience.  For some, our locals have many ongoing opportunities to connect with each other and learn within the community of practice. For others, the TESL Ontario Conference allows us to travel, share our experience and research, as well as build a network beyond our local reach.  But what about those of us Continue reading