In early October, I saw a call go out on the TESOL webpage looking for members to join a newly formed committee called the Affiliate Network Professional Council (ANPC). The call asked for interested parties who had recent previous experience on an affiliate board, as you would be working with other affiliate leaders closely. I thought it sounded interesting, and I quickly discovered that I was right.
TESOL International has about 100 affiliates from a wide range of places, like Bangladesh, New York state, and Yakutia, Russia. When I first joined TESL Ontario, I was surprised to learn that
we were an affiliate of TESOL. I was even more surprised to learn that TESL Ontario is one of the longest serving affiliates (over 4 decades) as well as one of the largest affiliates in the world, behind NileTESOL and the Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT). Affiliates join TESOL for a variety of reasons, but having a connection to so many other organizations is surely one of the many benefits.
Much like how a community of practice brings like-minded individuals together, the ANPC seeks to bring affiliate leaders and boards together to support TESOL International and to ensure a strong affiliate network. The ANPC basically helps affiliates come together that might not otherwise ever meet due to geographical distance. These affiliates can then learn from each other in terms of board governance and best practices around running an organization of teaching and learning professionals.
Currently, there are 8 of us on the ANPC, along with 1 TESOL staff member and 1 TESOL board member. In addition, each of us acts as a liaison to a little more than a dozen affiliates that range in size and experience. We try to help our groups find the support that they need, whether it is finding keynote speakers, or discussing how best to use social media. Throughout the year, we also work on at least four different committees: newsletter, communications, convention, and events. I was on the Affiliate Convention Committee that helped prepare the materials for some of the affiliate presentations at the convention in Atlanta in March.
This year at the convention, the slate of workshops that we supported included workshops for affiliate leaders, and affiliate communications. In addition, we also ran an affiliate assembly and colloquium. These were all great, but my favourite part was the affiliate booth. Even before I was a member of the ANPC, the part of the convention that I enjoyed the most was visiting the affiliate booth. Affiliates volunteer to be at the booth at different scheduled times throughout the 3 days of the convention. For me, it has always been a great way to learn more about the profession in other parts of the world and to share my experiences about teaching in Ontario. This year, I helped several of the affiliate volunteers to set-up their displays and had new global experiences. For example, KSAALT TESOL offered me pitted dates, whereas Puerto Rico TESOL taught me a new handshake.
I joined the ANPC to help affiliate boards make connections with each other. I hope that affiliates that share more will have members who will benefit from this dissemination of knowledge and skills. For those who might be interested in joining in the future or just learning more about the ANPC, please visit the webpage. I hope to see you in Denver at next year’s TESOL convention!
James Papple is an Academic Coordinator at Brock University’s English for Academic Purposes program, where he has been teaching and mentoring for 18 years. He has a Master’s in TESL and was an author for Oxford University Press’ Culture Link 2 Workbook. Jim has volunteered with TESL Ontario for over 10 years.