To Be Effective, Participate

group of people with their hands in the centre of the table
image source:

One of my TESL Professors told me that to be an effective educator you needed to participate in the community.  I’m not sure I’ve accomplished the first part yet, but I have certainly learned a lot from volunteering. What I love about being on the TESL Ontario Board is how it has enriched my knowledge of the diversity of our field.

I have been on the TESL Ontario board for nearly 6 years, which means that my time is drawing to a close.  When I reflect back on the last 6 years, the first thing that pops into my head isn’t the strategic ends, or the other governance issues, but the wonderful people I got to plan, and share, and grow with.

Joining the Board

Before coming on to the TESL Ontario Board, I was a member of my local executive in Niagara. I enjoyed working on the executive and was encouraged by my friends to try for the board.  The first year I ran for election, I wasn’t successful, but I tried again and the following year I became a member-at-large on the board.


I was nervous when I first joined–I wondered if I had the skillset to take on this new challenge.  Before I even attended the first meeting, I received a governance package that was the size of a telephone directory that seemed pretty intimidating. But once I got to the first meeting, I found that the board was a very welcoming space.  At my first meeting, I was paired with an informal mentor, who helped me get used to the governance documents that we needed.  Instantly, I felt a part of a team. As part of the newly elected members-at-large, we developed mutual respect for each other, as each of us had different, complimentary skillsets.  That respect and comradery remained even as we cycled off the board. As I worked with the others, I began to learn new skills which helped me to hold several positions on the board over the years. I also really appreciated our then Chair, who took the time to make sure that each of us felt comfortable and prepared.


As with any board, there is a fairly steady load of work.  However, the work of a governance board is always changing, so it never feels repetitive.  At the board meetings we try and identify what skills we need to develop in order to meet the needs of our membership.  I have learned a great deal of new skills over the years that have helped me immeasurable with my job, and in my general life.


I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to be on the TESL Ontario Board and I hope that this post may inspire members to take a leap of faith and volunteer to be on a TESL board or committee. I’m glad I had an opportunity to pay back to the profession that has given so much to me, and I’m glad I listened to my TESL practicum professor.

Want to Join?

Details about how to join the Board are outlined in the membership email, but can also be viewed here

How to apply
  • 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.

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.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.