Having worked in various ESL/EAL sectors in Ontario over the past 20 years, I decided to apply for the TESL Ontario Board in 2015. I had thought of applying to the Board for years before, recognizing the important role of TESL Ontario to support and advocate on behalf of our profession, its members, and the increasingly important role our profession plays in building bridges in Ontario/Canadian society. As I had worked in the private, LINC and college/university EAP areas, I thought I’d be able to share perspectives from these complementary experiences to help shape the direction of the organization and the future of our exciting profession. So in 2015 I threw my hat in the ring and was thrilled to be granted a position.
Working on the Board
Working on the Board has been a great privilege. The Board is composed of a range of dynamic (and fun!) professionals from very diverse backgrounds in ESL/EAL teaching. This is a Policy Governance Board, so we focus on representing the membership in our discussions and offer collective guidance on a diverse range of topics to TESL Ontario’s ED and staff (who then implement specific actions). In order to save on travel expenses, we mostly meet via video conferencing using Tutela.ca that has also saved me travel time and has allowed me to fit this work efficiently into my schedule. The Board operates through collective teamwork, guided by our very mindful and capable Chair, Jim Papple. We discuss a wide range of topics at each meeting, expressing our (sometimes different) opinions, and then we vote to determine specific action needed. Topics include membership advocacy, financial management of the Association, maintaining strong communication with local affiliates and strategic partners, discussing the TESL Ontario conference/AGM, and expanding services to emerging sectors, among many others.
Exciting initiatives that are occurring now are the establishment of a TESL Ontario Private Sector Working Group and a University/Colleges Working Group to explore opportunities between the Association and these increasingly important sectors in ESL/EAL/EAP teaching/learning in Ontario. I’m excited to see the opportunities that arise through these two working groups as I feel there is great potential synergy between the Association’s work and these two very important ESL/EAL sectors.
What I have gained from this experience?
Being a Board member has been an exciting responsibility as the overarching goal in our work (that I’ve gleaned) is to represent our diverse membership in these discussions and move the Association’s – and the profession’s – work forward to effectively serve the membership. Hence, the real need to have diverse members making up this Board!
This work has given me a much deeper insight into the opportunities, challenges, and the varied stakeholders in our profession. It has encouraged me to shift perspectives at times to see topics from a range of viewpoints. It continues to be a great honour to work with the committed members of the Board and the exceptional professionals who run TESL Ontario. I feel privileged to keep learning from this team and to be giving back to the profession that has engaged me over the years. And I encourage any of you interested to take on this exciting and important opportunity and throw your hat in the ring too! …
Want to Join?
Details about how to join the Board are outlined in the membership email, but can also be viewed here
- Nominations to be submitted using the Expression of Interest form and must include a current résumé.
- Nominations must be received in writing at the TESL Ontario office by July 9, 2017 by 12:00 noon.
Geoff Lawrence is an Assistant Professor of ESL and Applied Linguistics at York University in Toronto. He has taught in LINC, private ESL/EAL, university/college EAP and teacher education contexts and currently serves on the TESL Ontario Board.