ESL instructors often ask about favourites to get conversation started. What is your favourite sport? food? movie? etc. Well, if you were to ask me, “What is your favourite board meeting?” (and surprisingly, no one ever has) I’d have to say the annual joint meeting with the TESL Ontario Affiliate Chapter Representatives (ACRs) and the Board of Directors.
My First Joint Meeting
The first joint meeting I attended was back in 2013 when I was neither a Board Member nor an ACR. I had agreed to fill in for the Hamilton ACR at the last minute and had no idea what to expect. I really enjoyed that first meeting and found its networking, exchange of ideas and discussion of issues really engaging.
After that initial meeting, I went on to become the ACR for Hamilton and continued to attend meetings with reps from across the province, as well as the annual joint meeting.
Now that I am on the Board of TESL Ontario, I continue to look forward to the joint meeting. This year’s joint meeting just took place and I’d like to share a bit about it. We met on Saturday, March 10 at Metro Hall in Toronto. Metro Hall is not only a lovely and convenient meeting space, but it also a fiscally responsible one as the City provides rooms free of charge to organizations like TESL Ontario.
Recent Joint Meeting
Board Members and ACRs from across the province began to arrive at 8:30 when we started with breakfast and time for networking and catching up with our colleagues. At 9:00 we officially started the meeting with welcomes and introductions. After that, we went around the room and each ACR gave an update about both their chapter’s activities and issues facing their region. This allowed for a sharing of ideas and resources that is ever so valuable. It was great to hear about all the innovative events that the affiliates are offering, from trivia nights to employment fairs to technology themed exchanges.
After a break, we went on to discuss a number of topics relevant to all affiliates. Items on the agenda included TESL Ontario’s financial plan, orientation and training for new volunteers, and efforts to reach out to instructors in colleges and universities, and the private sector.
We then enjoyed a delicious meal catered in by the YMCA Culinary Training Program at Metro Hall. Over lunch we continued networking, chatting, and exchanging ideas. In the afternoon, the ACRs had their own meeting, as did the Board of Directors.
After coffee and an impromptu photo shoot, the Board continued to discuss matters including the finances and budget, the work of the organization’s staff and volunteer committees and our upcoming strategic planning process.
Value in Meeting
As Board Members, most of the meetings we are required to attend take place online via Tutela. This cuts down on time commitments and expenses as no travel is necessary (added bonus, there’s no video, so you can attend meetings in your yoga pants), but the value of a face to face meeting really can’t be denied. You get to connect to people on a deeper level in person and truly understand and engage as issues are discussed. If you’re thinking of becoming a Board Member, know that Tutela meetings mean your time commitment will be manageable, but that in person meeting might just become your favourite too!
Ways to Join
Interested in joining the Board? Watch for the call for nominations coming this June.
Interested in volunteering at the local level? Contact your affiliate chapter… http://www.teslontario.org/affiliates
Brett Basbaum is a program coordinator and ESL instructor at the Hamilton Public Library. She served as an Executive Committee member with TESL Hamilton-Wentworth for several years and is currently a member at large on the TESL Ontario Board of Directors.