Considering a Role on the TESL Ontario Board? New Member Jenny Kirk Shares Her Experience

Guest Contributor: Jenny Kirk

Have you considered taking the next step in your involvement with the TESL community?  

I’ve recently taken on a new role with TESL Ontario. I’d like to tell you about my experience and why I think you too should consider taking on a new challenge.

Serving on the TESL Ontario board can be an amazing opportunity to develop your leadership skills, gain board experience and receive positive professional mentorship. Plus, the board needs your perspective. 

My perspective began by teaching Stages I and II of the Canadian Language Benchmarks. In 2017 the CCLB certified me as a Portfolio Based Language Assessment (PBLA) lead. Teaching CELPIP preparation courses and running my own business offset the precarious nature of contract work somewhat. I have also been  program coordinator for Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) and Employment Language Training (ELT).

The TESL community has consistently supported me across my 13-year career.  I was engaged in my community, supporting instructors and representing their interests. Sitting on the board was an opportunity I wanted to explore. By joining the board I am able to make a bigger impact on the operations and long term direction of the organization. 

When I applied to run for the board, I discovered I would need to make a campaign video, something that I was hesitant about at first. But ESL instructors and people in the settlement sector support people who are outside of their comfort zones every day. It’s good to be reminded of how it feels to be a bit exposed when communicating and making a video felt uncomfortable. “Fortunately,” like many of you, I had recently had ample experience recording myself and broadcasting my lessons online due to the transition to remote learning. To my surprise, my campaign video was effective. 

The first 6 months of work on the board have been extremely educational.  Observing more experienced members helped me a lot. Their patience was greatly appreciated. The board has produced excellent orientation tutorials that teach new members how the Board of Directors and Governance Model work. For example, I wasn’t sure if I could still express my individual opinions as a “private citizen” at the annual conference and the training material helped to clarify my role. The experience is warmer, less formal and more welcoming than I imagined.

One area of board experience I have really appreciated is the ability to sit on special interest committees to go deeper into a board issue or objective. I’ve joined the finance and strategic planning board committees to grow my skills in these areas. 

At the moment, I’m analyzing the narrative responses from the membership survey to help preliminarily identify member priorities so we can begin the process of planning. A York University PhD student, Stephanie Kinzie, under the supervision of Antonella Valeo will analyze the survey data collected and write a detailed survey report. The published report will be shared with the membership once it is complete. 

Thank you to all who took the time to fill out the surveys. Your thoughtful input determines our organizational priorities. Rest assured your feedback is taken very seriously. All members of the strategic planning committee have invested a lot of time reading and researching. Ultimately these priorities will be incorporated into the strategic plan for 2023-2027.

I sincerely encourage all readers to consider running for the Board.  I especially encourage LINC and school board members to consider exploring some of the roles within TESL Ontario – I know you are busy, but we need your perspectives. This chart of TESL Ontario Membership’s Organizational Structure shows some of the possible roles you might consider. And here is a link to the application package to run for a board position open for 2022-2023. 


2 thoughts on “Considering a Role on the TESL Ontario Board? New Member Jenny Kirk Shares Her Experience”

  1. Thanks for your insights, Jenny. We began our journeys at the same time, here in London. I remember those classes at Wheable well! Congrats on your appointment to the Board. And, just to add one minor point, I can’t imagine you *not* expressing yourself!

    1. Thanks Jen! Yes we’ve both been at this quite a while now. You never know how you’ll be received by your peers, so it feels pretty risky. Fortunately the board members freely express their perspectives, so it’s a very congenial environment.

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