50 Professional Development Tips for the New Year

50  Professional Development Ideas For The New Year


There is never a better time than “NOW” to start working on one’s own professional development as a teacher.  However, often unless by chance you find yourself in the perfect school with perfect colleagues – it is hard to get started and you’ll find yourself in a rut teaching the same thing in the same way (or different things in the same way), over and over.


Here’s a list that will certainly contain something to “prime the pump” and get you started developing more as an educator. Not all will be for you – but many will. Find what will work for you.


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1.  Take the Basic TEFL Certificate Course.  This course reviews all the main aspects of teaching English AND it is free. Based on the Shaping The Way We Teach instructional video series, you watch the video lessons and complete the quizzes. Lots of additional readings but they aren’t required.  Go here.


2.   Look at things differently.   Sometimes it is the key to making change.  Try standing on your desk and thinking about your class.  What can you change that will make a difference?  Also try some quotes to get your mind  Go here.


3.   Try some twitter chat.  Twitter chats are offered once or twice a week and you can participate by sharing your thoughts in 140 characters or less.  #eltchat #educhat are two large ones but there are lots of local twitter chats.  Go here for a full list.


4.   Try some real teacher talk.  Find a colleague or teacher working in a similar  position as yourself.  Schedule a weekly coffee/chat session to share ideas and just get some valuable perspective.


5.   Keep a reflective journal  It is as simple as stapling some paper together and each day / week, recording your thoughts about what’s happening in your teaching life.  Get inspired with my own Zen And The Act Of Teaching journal. Go here.


6.   Browse the British Council Teachers. A place full of readings, videos and links to help the English language teacher develop. Follow their FB page too. .  Go here.


7.   Look at your calendar and schedule to attend some conferences. Make the decision to “get out there” and see what is new in the world of teaching. Always some conferences that are close or take in a conference that is far away and also have a wonderful “working” vacation.  Go here.


8.   Get inspired by some stories about teaching.  Stories can be powerful sources of inspiration and nourishment.  Go here.


9.   View / Review some teacher training presentations.  Here are my own specific to ELT but there are many more on the internet. Also search Prezi  or Slideshare for educational presentations shared by teachers.  Go here.


10.  Decide to learn more about using educational technology .  It is an essential skill these days.  The ELT and Tech tutorials and links will get you started. Nik Peachey offers great tips and reviews.  Also these bookmarksGo here.


11.   Browze the A-Z of ELT blog.  A  powerful resource of posts by Scott Thornbury about teaching and language. Read the comments, the gold is there.  Go here.


12.   Do some action research.  Set a simple goal for yourself in the classroom. Think of your teaching and classroom as an experiment you monitor and control. Be brave and also share your findings!   Go here.


13.   Learn about the reflective teaching practices. A powerful component of professional development is the notion of “the reflective cycle”. This presentation highlights this.   Go here.


14.   Brush up on your grammar.  Yep, can’t be avoided and you can always know more. It is a valuable knowledge base for a teacher.  Go here.


15.   Join in the discussion on ELT Professionals LinkedIn. Hundreds of discussion posts daily on teaching English.  Try the megalist of past topics.   Go here.


16.    Take some quizzes. Find out what kind of teacher you are. There are many quizzes online to help you “self” discover.  Try – What kind of teacher are you?  My classroom management style.   Go here.


17.   Check out TED talk videos regularly. Very inspiring talks about education. New ones weekly.  Try the random HD player I made or view the EnglishCentral TED ChannelGo here.


18.   Chart how you’ve progressed as a teacher.  Ask yourself, “What do I know now that I didn’t know then?  Make a list of these things, see visibly how you’ve developed and then think of where you might head. It is powerful. Go here.


19.   Go Facebook. So many great groups and pages that can add to your knowledge base.  Make friends with fellow teachers and follow some wonderful pages. Start here


20.    Hold a PD Day at your school. Set aside a half day or a few hours and have each teacher share a lesson idea.  It will help your work environment and create lots of positive vibes among teachers.


21.    Brush up on Classroom Management.  Listen to an authentic story read by a celebrity. Really helps students to listen to this kind of authentic narrative driven language.  Go here.


22.    Follow some Youtube professional development channels.  So many schools, organizations and teachers offer wonderful videos online to help you learn about teaching English. OUP, MacMillan, TEFL Videos to name a few.    Go here.


23.   Attend free online conferences and webinars.  Nowadays, you don’t have to travel to conferences, just use your browser! iTDIeConsultancyTeacher TalkWizIQ to name a few.


24.   Make your own personal and professional webpage.  Get your resume up on LinkedIn and network there but also think about promoting yourself with your own webpage. So easy to do online with some splendid tools.  Go here.


25.   Start following some great ELT Blogs. Check out the blogroll of any ELT blog. Here’s a nice list with the Random ELT Blog generator to start.  Go here.


26.    Join the Teaching Village.  This collective blog started by Barb Sakamoto is wonderful and a wealth of knowledge. Join and share an article!   Go here.


27.    Brush up on your knowledge of educational leaders.   So many thought leaders with profound knowledge about teaching and education. Also get inspired by interviews with ELT teachers and leaders.     Go here.


28.    Study and learn the IPA  Pronunciation is a crucial skill set that teachers of English should know. .  Go here.


29.    Interview yourself.  Whohub offers a great tool for educators to interview themselves and share their own thoughts about teaching.  My example here.  Start here.


30.    Join The School Of TEFL community.  This site started out as my own community to share with my colleagues. We taught there and shared. Now, it has blossomed and contains a lot of valuable resources and ideas. A short sign up is all that you need to do (to keep out spammers). All is free.  Go here.


31.   Start blogging. Blogging is a great way to meet like minded teachers, build your PLN (Personal Learning Network) and reflect upon what happens in and out of the classroom.  Post and blog on EFL Classroom 2.0 – it’s easy.   Edublogs is a great service to use (and also create student blogs there). Also, microblogging platforms like Posterous or Tumblr.   Go here.


32.   Larry Ferlazzo’s Best List.  Larry Ferlazzo is the crown jewel of “teacher sharers”  So much on his site, always updated. Browse now!  Go here.


33.   Join A Professional Organization.  There are so many local organizations and professional bodies that can provide you with valuable networking and information.   Go here.


34.    Share your stuff online. There are so many social networking places to share your own lesson ideas and materials. Teachers who do so and get valuable feedback really develop into strong teachers.  Here’s my own take on this – We Keep What We Give.


35.    Start thinking about your career and the long term. So many teachers operate day by day and month by month.  Start thinking and planning about where you will be in 2 years, 5 years, 20 years.  Make a plan and start the process of deciding what you have to do to get there.


36.    Learn the jargon.  Every discipline has its own “lingo”, ELT is no different. Learn to “talk the walk”. Study a glossary  or learn some acronyms –  Go here.


37,   Reach out to somebody.   Learn to not put so much on your own shoulders. Find someone you can talk to at school.  Don’t keep things in and bottled up.  Keep open all your lines of communication.


38.   Do some reading. There are so many books one might choose to read and gain knowledge from. I’ll offer my own  The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Teacher: Selected Writings.  Go here for a great recommended list.


39.   Spend more time on your non teaching self. The key to good teaching is how wisely you recharge your batteries and take time for your own self outside of teaching. These tips will get you on the right track –  Go here.


40.    Find out the top websites for teaching. A quick way to get many of the best websites for teaching English.   Go here.   Also the #1 in ELT series. Go here.


41.    Ask students what they want. The key to a great classroom is a proper and ongoing needs analysis.  Negotiate the classroom with students. You’ll learn so much from them! When one teaches, two learn”. Go here.


42.    Learn about using video in the classroom. Video is the new text. Find out more about “Extensive Watching” and how to use video in the classroom with this guide.   Go here.


43.   Visit Colorin Colorado.  A great professional development site focused on ESL and ELLs.  A wealth of knowledge.  Go here.


44.    Videotape yourself teaching. This is an excellent way to get some valuable knowledge about your own teaching microskills. Simply set up a camera at the back of the class and start there. Or just use an audio recorder (your cell phone will work).


45.    Write an article about teaching. There are plenty of websites and journals who would welcome your contribution, either locally or internationally. Why not share with others and get some valuable credits for your resume?


46.    Electronic Village Online – EVO. Participate in this teacher driven organization which shares a wealth of knowledge. You too can become a “webhead”.  Go here.


47.    Google hangout with other teachers. Find some teacher friends and start your own weekly hangout. It is so simple nowadays.  Or view some Hangouts On Air.

 Go here.


48.    Get peer feedback.  Can be informal or formal, key is to share your classroom with a colleague you value and trust. Just let them come in the classroom and talk about it afterwards.


49.    Drink More Water. Your voice is your most valuable tool, take care of it. So many teachers end up with chronic problems. Go here.


50.   Love Thyself and To Thy Own Self Be True.  Key to any professional development as a teacher is to forgive yourself, the classes that didn’t work, the bad days. Keep positive and it will all work out!   But at the same time, be honest with yourself.


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Teacher trainer, technology specialist, educational thinker...creator of EFL Classroom 2.0, a social networking site for thousands of EFL / ESL teachers and students around the world.

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2 Responses

  1. Polish translator & English teacher says:

    With your hints and useful links it may be possible to fullfil all the resolutions I’ve made on the New Year’s Eve. Thanks for sharing.

  2. ddeubel says:

    You are most welcome…. all we can ask is to try our best!

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