Our blog topics for September and October 2017 look at the theme of 'Career and teacher development'.

The posts from July and August 2017 on the theme of 'Managing resources' made for some interesting reading. There were posts on considerations for writing materials, strategies for differentiation, dealing with digital natives, the technological division between cities and rural areas, writing coursebooks and designing materials. You can read some of these posts by clicking on the links below:

Katherine Bilsborough: Teachers as materials writers: some considerations

Phil Wade: Differentiation is the spice of life

Ekontovas: A teacher's ventures into tech!

Patty Alarco-Vizcarra: Digital literacy not only a Core Skill but also a way to promote positive social change

NinaMK: Materials Development

Fatima.taha: Do we write materials OR Do we design them!

Topics for September and October 2017

  1. Post-certification year 1 - top tips for your first year of teaching
    What was your first year of teaching like after becoming certified? Did you have any support or learn valuable lessons? What would be your top tips for newly-qualified teachers to help them manage their first year and develop as teachers?
     
  2. Your career path - from teacher to…?
    Have you taken, or are you planning to take, a career path that moves you away from being in the classroom all the time? If so, what are some of the options available within education and how do you get there? Usually this involves extra qualifications, but not always. What routes have you found, or are you looking at, and how did you decide?
     
  3. The teaching plateau - how experienced teachers can maintain motivation
    After a certain amount of experience, teachers can often reach a plateau, where skills and expertise are no longer being developed. What can experienced teachers do to avoid this? How can we maintain the motivation we need to keep learning and developing?
     
  4. How to get by and prosper when moving to teach abroad
    Are you a teacher who has moved abroad to teach? Or perhaps you work with colleagues who have done so? What advice would you give to a teacher planning to do this? How can teachers balance getting to grips with their new job as well as a new country, language and culture?

Happy blogging!

Comments

As I (Margie) was reading the above topics, two seemed to stand out, #2 and #3. I will try to combine them:

I began my professional career as a music therapist (I play the violin) and school social worker/educational counselor. I worked in special education settings for several years in this capacity (mental retardation, cerebral palsy) in regional schools, with the children themselves, their parents and siblings, and with the staffs of said schools.

Then, I myself was in a severe traffic accident and need to relearn to walk etc. After my long rehabilitation, my former position had been taken and I began teaching English as a Foreign Language, as I had my certification but had only tutored privately before.

I taught in mine and the neighboring town as I wasn't driving long distances at the time, regular classes of 12-15 year old students. However, my previous experience as an educational counselor had a direct influence on my teaching too.

I preferred to teach the lower achievement levels , in which there were other issues such as learning disabilities, chaotic home environments and other issues involved. Eventually I did a long course and received certification for teaching EFL to students with Learning Difficulties.

After 35 years of working in the public school system in Israel, both as an educational counselor and as an EFL teacher, I 'retired ' from direct classroom work and opened a remedial learning center with a business partner in Rishon leZion, Israel. Finally, I began to teach the 8-10% of the students who had true learning difficulties, who I had never been able to give proper attention to in huge 'regular' EFL classes. The business closed on June 30, 2017 for financial reasons--educationally speaking, the need for it is still there and I am continuing with several of my former students on a private basis.

(Note: when learning-disabled students--and their parents--find a tutor who is a 'good fit' for the child's personality and other-wise, this often becomes a long-term relationship. These families have endured so much testing and diagnosis that they are happy to finally find 'the right person' to work with the student.)

I enjoy what I am doing now--tutoring in the field of EFL teaching for children and adults with learning difficulties--because it is very satisfying in the long run. It is a long, arduous process and usually requires parents with patience because success is cumulative and results are not immediate (forget about the 90 on the upcoming English test). Equally as important: both the learning center business and the tutoring I am doing now have allowed me to stay in the field of EFL teaching and counseling without being in the English school classroom.

I am also working on my doctorate in Special Education which will discuss teacher cohesion and difficult school populations, another facet of my my educational counseling background. Several of my students' parents, as well as some of my English teaching colleagues, are willing to answer questionnaires and be interviewed when I do my thesis. This also creates carryover from the professional to the academic realm.

In retrospect ( question #3), I reached the teaching plateau several years ago. If I had not become a partner at the Learning Center, I probably would have left English Teaching. I do attend inservice days and courses in my field of EFL, especially in techniques for identification and assessment of students with learning difficulties.

Experienced teachers need to find ways of keeping themselves challenged and not just 'going through the motions of another school year'. Yes, part of the responsibility lies with the school principals who need to to retain cohesive staffs, but the English teachers themselves need to identify what energizes them, too. (I found that the financial side of running a business was just not right for me but I wanted to stay within education.)

In conclusion, I made conscious decisions to remain in the field of education, both after rehabilitation from the traffic accident when there was pressure on me to enter the field of Technical Writing, and also more recently, when I left the classroom and became a partner in a Remedial Learning Center. There is enough room in the field of education to move around and fulfill different roles, thus maintaining motivation and continuing to learn and develop as educators.

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