Category Archives: Professional Development

Special Post: Leadership, Professional Development, and the Annual TESL Ontario Conference

Conference Concept. Modern Line Style Illustration. Multicolor Conference Drawn on Dark Brick Wall. Doodle Icons. Doodle Design Style of Conference Concept. Conference on Dark Brick Wall. Conference.
image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Fellow TESL O members, it is almost that time of year where we get a chance to share our knowledge with each other and develop our skills as educators at the annual #TESL2016 Conference.  This face-to-face experience allows us to build our community of practice and share leadership in the field.  The conference might be in November, but preparations have already started! As we prepare for this conference, we ask, will you be a leader?

Leadership

One of the MANY benefits of TESL O’s annual conference is the opportunity to develop your own leadership abilities. Be a discussion leader by presenting or better yet, co-presenting an approach in the classroom that you have tested, a research question that you have investigated, or a tool that you have used and believe others can benefit from.  Be a creative leader by displaying a poster of your idea or tool. Continue reading

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Supply Teaching – A Positive Experience

Some of my students working in a computer lab

I was recently assigned the role of a full-time supply instructor in an English as a Foreign Language department of approximately 70 instructors. “Take this on as a new challenge” was my first thought, and I haven’t looked back.  Our EFL department has two divisions. These are the academic and the technical preparatory programs. I had not yet taught in the technical program and was interested in these students with different needs. I had always been curious about the technical program and was anxious to jump right in and teach.

We have just completed midterms and I have had a generous sampling of most of the courses that our department offers. I have benefited from this experience in more ways than I had anticipated. I have continued to learn about my peers, technology integration, institutional facilities, and most of all the students. Here is a brief overview of the things I learned:

Technology integration

Our college supports education technical technology through an environment of well stocked and supported digital learning options. It is interesting to see the varying degrees to which technology is being used by the staff and students. Student behaviour often reflects their instructor’s education technology routines. When I direct the students to use some technology, their efficiency indicates whether or not they use technology on a regular basis.  I have been very impressed by those teachers who have integrated technology seamlessly into their instructional practice.  Continue reading

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Anaphylaxis in the Classroom – Do you know what to do?

Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Food allergies are on the rise, so it’s safe to say that you may know at least one person who has to stay away from common or obscure dietary allergens and intolerances.  With both adults and children affected, (mine included), you will inevitably come across someone dealing with food allergies in your classroom. In fact, this topic may have already been covered in your work module. Here are some good facts and tips that may simplify this topic, helping to create a healthy discussion amongst coworkers and students alike.

Disclaimer: The following content is for information purposes only. I’m not a health expert, but I know a lot from personal experience. Always seek advice from a trained professional. Continue reading

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Organizing Your Personal/Professional Learning Network – Part 2

In John’s previous post, Organizing Your Personal/Professional Learning Network (PLN),  he discussed three types of tools for organizing your PLN start page. This post presents three more useful tools:

Curated Content
PLN_JohnAllan_blog_image
image source: http://www.classroom20.com/

For the purposes of this post, curation is defined as aggregated content that has been identified and vetted by a human curator.  You might choose to leave the searching, sorting, repackaging, organizing and publishing to curators.  Serious curators are area specialists who spend a great deal of time and effort to provide their networks with relevant content.  The majority of curated content is located, and shared on a casual basis by common social media participants on an ad hoc basis.  This can be seen daily on your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.  Part-time curation is something that we do when we have a few spare minutes but the dedicated few that are professional curators are tremendous sources for up-to-date content.

Discovering a curator and trusting that they will curate relevant content that meet your professional requirements may necessitate determination and patience, but the results will be worth it.  Just imagine, someone else combing through dozens of sources and hundreds of items to repackage and present the most relevant to your on a daily basis. Continue reading

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Personal Learning Network Sources

a_002A Personal Learning Network or Professional Learning Network means different things to different people.  In simple terms, your network includes the people or sources that you learn from in your profession. Generally, the PLN is used by teaching professionals to access resources and ideas, develop their skills and lessons, and connect with others in the profession. In your PLN, you can include subject specific experts, websites, social media resources, online or face-to-face groups, conferences or learning communities.

After reading Anna Bartosik’s post, How to Connect the Right Way: Using your PLN on Twitter, I thought about my own PLN.  In 2013, I facilitated a workshop on potential PLN resources. (see the link below) My PLN has changed in two ways since that time: I have updated some of the resources, and I have refined the organization of my PLN for more efficient access.

Personal Learning Networks are quite a complex topic. In this post, I provide a listing of potential PLN sources with a corresponding exemplar.  In my next blog post, I will provide six possible options for pulling together these resources into a one-stop resources bank such as Anna Bartosik’s Twitter PLN.  Continue reading

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Why I Blog for TESL Ontario

Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

I often get asked how I stay connected with the TESL community since I’m not always teaching. Blogging as a volunteer guest blogger for TESL Ontario is an avenue I chose to do just that. So, I thought I’d share what I love about blogging for TESL Ontario with you. Be warned, this may entice you to apply!

When I applied to become a TESL blogger, I was excited. When I got the call to be interviewed, I was nervous (but the good kind of nervous).  And when I found out that I was selected to be one of the bloggers, I did a happy dance, (luckily all of you didn’t have to witness it…I digress). Continue reading

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See No Evil, Speak No Evil

Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

I’ve just come from giving a presentation with a wonderful group of teachers at the TESL Ontario Conference in Toronto. My presentation was on reflective practice and we were all sharing ideas on various ways teachers can reflect on their teaching.

One teacher suggested doing peer observations. I immediately saw looks of uneasiness on a few faces. I don’t blame them as  I too have had some bad experiences with peer observations, but I have also had many great ones. So, here are some suggestions on how you can, hopefully, have a positive experience with peer observations. Continue reading

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Mission “I’m Possible” –  Even You Can Become a Secret Agent!

Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

Good Morning Mr./Mrs. Blog Reader.

Before you decide on which presentations to attend at the TESL Ontario Annual Conference, please read this:

There is an ongoing investigation concerning best practices, benefits and challenges related to virtual teamwork. A panel discussion exposing virtual teamwork will take place at the Sheraton Centre Hotel located at 123 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada at precisely 1:00 p.m., Friday,  November 13th, 2015. Participants will be given a writing instrument and asked to write questions on a piece of uncoated stock paper, with a vellum finish. They will then be instructed to slip the note into a Fedora, which may be a code name for something they are trying to “keep a lid on“. Discreetly do as they say.

Top agents from the TESL Ontario Blog Administration Team will be disclosing sensitive information. Who are they? What do they know? How do they do it, being geographically dispersed? What technology are they using to communicate? What makes this virtual team tick?   And most importantly, how can you use this information to design your own virtual team?    Continue reading

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How to Connect the Right Way: Using your PLN on Twitter

Image source: Denise Krebs copyright 2012 (tagxedo.com)
Image source: Denise Krebs copyright 2012 (tagxedo.com)

Last week, just before my webinar on using Twitter for Professional Development and Developing your Personal Learning Network (PLN), I came across a tweet from @danielmccabe, quoting Dave Burgess (@burgessdave), in Teach Like a Pirate , that said:

The negative teachers aren’t on Twitter…the people you see there are trying to move forward and help others move forward. (Burgess, 2012)

Truer words…

I am fresh off a third webinar for TESL Ontario and am basking in the glow of my PLN. This webinar was the second in a series of three that TESL Ontario has supported me in presenting. I had the pleasure of telling some stories about the important connections I’ve made on Twitter with teachers who offer me support and necessary dialogue. My Twitter PLN is the best sounding board for developing and tweaking ideas I have.

One of the challenges for educators active on Twitter is to bring more lambs into the fold. My favourite quote is from @AcademicsSay:

“You’ll have to show me how to do this Twitter thing sometime.” – Every colleague ever.

Over the past twenty years, I have met and befriended many teachers, but don’t even need all of my fingers to count the ones active on Twitter. It’s a shame, really. So many teachers are missing out.

I had lunch with a former colleague this week who was surprised and shocked by what I’ve been able to do Continue reading

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ROLES, REFUGEES, AND REFUGE

Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com
Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

I attended my first PTA (Parent Teacher Association) meeting at my son’s school last week. The Chair had asked if I’d be interested in joining them to help execute a healthy food initiative for the students. I happily obliged because I’m a tad obsessed with food — the wholesome and tasty kind that’s kid approved. Anyway, I digress.

What struck me at this meeting was a new project directed at helping refugees, (particularly those who have fled from war torn countries), acclimate to their new community. The school is planning on raising a significant amount of funds to help them out, whether it be through financial or psychological support.

This got me thinking about the work we do as ESL instructors. During my ESL teacher training, a big part of the program focused on recognizing the students’ cultural backgrounds so that we could understand our students’ perspectives better and adjust our lessons accordingly. Continue reading

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