Tag Archives: job satisfaction

#AusELT chat summary: “Professional development – that’s what I want!” (3rd July 2014)

What do we want imageWhat a lively chat about professional development! @cioccas posted some questions for us to think about before the chat and then structured the chat around these. This was a great idea because we could formulate some answers before the chat and this made it easier to post (copy and paste our pre-written ideas) and took the stress off us to constantly type (well, at least that’s what I did!) The questions and issues we discussed are below, and the main comments are summarised.

 

What do teachers want and expect from PD?

@andrea_rivett posted: “It should be relevant, interesting and get me to think about my own practice.” @Penultimate_K commented that newer teachers wanted direction and skills development and more experienced teachers wanted refinement and innovation. @KateRoss0901 reminded us that some teachers wanted traditional forms of PD such as post-graduate study, seminars and workshops. @sujava and @sophiakhan4 wondered whether all teachers wanted PD. @sujava mentioned that any PD should include a takeaway for use in the classroom as teachers are time poor.

What is PD?

@Penultimate_K reminded us that self-directed PD is often forgotten as a form of informal PD. @KateRoss0901 made the insightful comment that we encourage our students to be self-directed learners but don’t seem to follow this approach in our own PD. @andrea_rivett raised the question of a definition of PD. Is it formal, informal, online, F2F, written, spoken, individual, collaborative, paid, unpaid, teacher-directed, institution-directed? Does it result in a certificate / assessment / observation / some form of classroom practice? Is it private reflection? Who defines it and how do we motivate teachers to participate in it?

@cioccas said that teachers should choose what PD they wanted and that it should be differentiated. @sophiakhan4 recommended we all read Karen Benson and Phil Chappell’s contribution on PD in the English Australia Journal as it deals with a program for differentiated PD.

Expectations around PD

@sujava said that some teachers felt pressed for time and felt that PD was an imposition. @MeredithMacaul1 reminded us of teacher workload as obstacles to attending PD. @cherrymp asked if these things were excuses. @sujava mentioned that some people want to teach / do their job and then go home and @SophiaKhan4 asked if we had unrealistic expectations of teachers. Are people in other professions required / expected to do PD?

A few people mentioned that PD should be provided as part of the job and @aparnajacob said that people expected to be paid as part of PD. Personally, I would expect mandated PD to be paid but anything I was interested in I could pursue myself. It’s always worth putting in a proposal to management to have PD subsidized (e.g. travel and accommodation expenses). Online PD would save costs here but @cioccas has observed that online PD is not always accepted by managers.

What do managers want and expect from teacher PD?

@andrea_rivett said PD was everyone’s responsibility but teachers and managers could suggest, deliver and organise it. @michaelgriffin asked how we can encourage and support teachers to manage their own PD, seek opportunities for PD on their own and become independent learners. This is a question those in management and teacher development constantly grapple with.

 A PD budget

The conversation turned to how to allocate a PD budget. Some recommendations included:

  • any budget for group and individual PD should be aligned to organizational goals
  • teachers who were sponsored by their organisation to attend an event could come back to their campus / college and share what they learned
  • learning institutions could take turns in hosting PD to keep costs down
  • teachers can share delivery (reduced prep time) so a guest speaker is not needed (and therefore no payment required)
  • teachers can put in proposals for external PD conferences and if accepted their college could pay for them to go
  • get staff to deliver PD, everyone votes and the best presenter gets a PD allowance (to attend a conference etc.) with the aim always being to bring back and share the ‘learning’

 Sharing PD opportunities

The conversation then turned to how to share PD opportunities / advertise PD. Some ideas were:

  • Bulletin board, newsletter, group / email list
  • Scoop.It (online magazine), English Australia newsletter

@cioccas asked how information about PD opportunities was disseminated to teachers who weren’t connected and @KateRoss0901 commented that this could be approached from various angles (formal, informal, electronic, spoken, written), which would catch a wider audience. She also commented that employees had a responsibility to develop themselves.

Who participates in PD? Why / why not?

@hairychef asked the pertinent question: “Has the issue of low engagement in highly qualified staffrooms been addressed?” @sujava mentioned PLNs: Facebook, Pearltrees and Twitter and showing people how to sign up. @cioccas mentioned that she has seen little take up of this from teachers even after several attempts.

This prompted the question from @cioccas: “How to encourage and support teachers to manage their own PD, seek opportunities for PD on their own and become independent learners?” @cioccas suggested a series of teacher-led PD sessions, which are starting to take off where she works. @sophiakhan4 mentioned the benefit of having models to inspire and show others what is achievable. She met her models through social media. A few people commented that managers should model best practice.

NB: If interested, you can

What is the role of teachers in their own PD?

 Some suggestions included:

  • to think about what they are interested in vs what they “need” to improve in
  • to run a PD session each – nothing too fancy (30 mins)
  • to do PD in pairs
  • to have active roles in Professional Organisations

Explore here for more ideas on:

What is the role of managers in teacher PD?

 Some suggestions included that managers should:

  • give PD presenting opportunities and responsibilities to teachers
  • have active roles in Professional Organisations
  • model good learning and development (mentoring)
  • use / allocate mentors to promote enthusiasm and commitment

Engagement and feeling valued

The conversation turned to teachers not feeling engaged because they didn’t feel valued and two points were raised. Firstly, do teachers not feel valued because of low self-esteem? Secondly, is the issue here industry baseline standards? Should entry to TEFL be like entry to medicine with the same standards? Would this make teachers more engaged in PD? @hairychef suggested ongoing demand-high teacher training. @KateRoss0901 mentioned that teachers may feel that remuneration didn’t warrant further investment in their careers. @cherrymp suggested we keep working on it that change will come.

On that hopeful note the chat was wrapped up at 9.30pm and we were all left with ideas for moving forward with PD in our centres. I suggest we try some of these ideas and report back from time to time on the AusELT Facebook page.

This post by @sujava

 

#ELTchat summary: “Dream jobs: where do we TEFLers dream of ending up?” (21 Nov 2012, 12pm GMT)

This post is a chat summary for a recent #ELTchat, which I was very proud to do as #ELTchat have been such a big influence on and support to #AusELT. This particular chat concerned “dream jobs” for TEFLers, and it was very entertaining, meandering happily between daydreams, wishful thinking, aspirations, misty-eyed nostalgia, and both gloomy and not-so-gloomy reality. The summary is divided into the topic areas that we discussed as (possibly) essential to a TEFLer’s dream job. You can read the original transcript here.

Location

Location took the lead early on, with many of us longing for warmer climes. ‘Beach’ was a popular dream location, although @Shaunwilden objected to beach-teaching due to “all that sand”.

@OUPELTGlobal suggested “basking in the sun while your language school is making loads of cash” was the dream job, and this clearly struck a chord with several #ELTchatters who were being rained on at the time. @suzanne_efl expressed a wish to teach in Columbia, and @claubluefeather in Great Britain. But it was quickly agreed that location is NOT a key factor when identifying what makes a dream job:

    • @suzanne_efl: I think you can make the best of most locations but respect, recognition and a decent salary would make it the dream
    • @esolcourses: IMO, respect, working conditions etc, more important than locale
    • @sophiakhan4: I agree – location can compensate for, or add to, but can’t substitute 4 the qualities of the job itself 

Salary

And it didn’t take long for @TPMcDonald85 to start us off on the unavoidable topic of money:

  • If I was paid a fair salary and sick pay everything else would be a bonus!

There was general agreement that “unfairpay is often an issue in elt” (@Shauwilden) with wavering during the course of the chat between acceptance and annoyance:

  • @TPMcDonald85: it comes with the job I guess. Overworked and underpaid. It helps to enjoy what you do.
  • @hartle: if pay is not important, then it means, in fact tht only those who cn survive on less r supported cn do it! A loss of resources
  • @OUPELTGlobal: hm, sucky pay does not equal dream job, right?
  • @SophiaKhan4: Guess it depends on yr criteria for “success” & “happiness”. Think in ELT we have 2 survive on ‘alternative’ criteria

Autonomy

Being independent and trusted to do your job well is clearly a strong preference amongst us.

  • @buckyacademics: Somewhere you have freedom over what you teach. I love experimenting with new ideas & approaches. Luckily I write the syllabus!
  • @Marisa_C: freedom to work the way you want to work 
  • @theteacherjames: a big part of my ideal job would be autonomy & the freedom to get on with teaching without interference from outside . . . managers who don’t know what they are doing, politicians, parents etc. . . . I enjoy that freedom at the moment. Hope I have it in the future!

This led to a tangent on parental involvement in teaching

  • @Shaunwilden: Parents pay for the teaching though so surely they have a right to an opinion?
  • @theteacherjames: Of course, as long they don’t tell teachers how to teach.
  • @susana_castaned: some schools here in Peru are actually owned by parents, so yes, they have an opinion
  • @theteacherjames: They’re entitled to an opinion, just not on everything. I don’t tell doctors how to operate.
  • @OUPELTGlobal: I always felt the fine line between parents contributing and interfering.
  • @susana_castaned: Parents are supposed to trust teachers, and teachers are supposed to build trust

Respect

This was another major sticking point, which includes “being treated as a professional” (@OUPELTGlobal ), “appreciation and recognition” (@FionaTT) and feeling “valued” (@PatrickAndrews). It was a factor people returned to again and again, and it seems that whether you get this or not is just luck of the draw. Managers should take note that a little bit of apreciation can go a very long way to making up for other issues such as heavy workload, poor pay and stress . . . We didn’t really explore what it requires to be shown appreciation, recognition and value, but perhaps this is a topic for another chat!

Opportunities

@theteacherjames asked:

  • How important is promotion to you? Do you expect to move beyond the classroom at some point or do you prefer to stay there?

@hartle seemed happy with her uni language centre even though there is no promotion at all, because “that also means there’s no hierarchy and we work quite well”. And many agreed that keeping at least one foot in the classroom is important:

  • @hartle: 2 much material development without classroom work drives me mad and it is important to be with stds 🙂

At the same time, having a sense of career progression is necessary. For @FrancesEales, the dream job is

  • Working in a school or uni where professional development and career paths are explored, fostered (and paid for)

But @susana_castaned wasn’t alone in feeling like she hadn’t had many options open to her:

  • @susana_castaned: You just have 3 paths: u can be a teacher, a coordinator (6 of them, same hierarchy) or the owner of th school! . . . I quit my last job for not having opportunities for promotion

Many of us are interested in particular teaching contexts or specialties, or looking for ways to apply our teaching knowledge other than in the classroom. Here’s a list of some of the jobs we have (or aspire to have) as discussed in the chat:

  • A university role: @Julian_Lenfant: A uni role has its perks, more people in the community willing to talk to me; have a healthy book budget, uni resources, etc. . . But the challenge in a uni environment is that innovation can take time, & requires lots of discussion & diplomacy.
  • Materials developer
  • Syllabus writer: @pjgallantry: my dream job would also involve developing materials and courses, especially online/blended learning stuff and m-learning
  • Conference speaker
  • Teacher trainer
  • ‘Other’ trainer: @FrancesEales: I know colleagues who moved from training in ELT to training in e.g. NHS or the Ministries or Retailers Skillset is v transferable
  • Business-owner: @susana_castaned: I hv a business now, teaching in-company, a staff and sometimes am invited to give conferences. I work mon-fri up to 3pm no more.
  • Language consultant
  • Kindergarten teacher: @yitzha_sarwono: never imagined it before but teaching montessori kindergarten has become my dream job. I get to learn everyday!

Career path in EFL

Some chat participants are lucky enough to be doing their dream job, at least in terms of the section above. @MarjorieRosenbe tweeted:

  • I like combination of teaching, teacher training and materials development and writing

And @Shaunwilden agreed, saying at another point:

  • my career path all a matter of luck I think 🙂

@sophiakhan4 bemoaned the fact that paths aren’t really clear and whether you end up in teacher training or in management, for example, can depend entirely on being in the right (or wrong) place at the right (or wrong) time. @suzanne_efl agreed:

  • I would love to get into teacher training but not sure how

@FrancesEales suggested going to a school that regularly does teacher training and expressing interest/getting involved that way, and @sophiakhan4 added:

  • At least knowing u have that goal is good. The good thing about ELT is that there’s always an opportunity somewhere

Of course you can always do what the impressive @susana_castaned did and set up your own company – although, as she said herself, don’t expect this to be easy!

Are we already doing our ideal job?

@SophiaKhan4 asked:

  • Is it possible we already do have the dream job – just can’t recognise it because the pay is so sucky? 🙂

And “sucky pay” aside (see “Salary” above), it does seem that we have a lot to be grateful for:

  • @Shaunwilden: i dont know about dream but I enjoy what I do and I love being self-employed
  • @Marisa_C: I am doing my ideal job – observing a class
  • @FrancesEales: I love working with other teachers to share ideas
  • @theteacherjames: I think I might have already had my dream job when I taught in Korea. Not sure to feel happy I had  it, or sad it’s gone.
  • @eltknowledge: This is without doubt my dream job. Always a chance to grow, develop & learn. But u r right abt the pay.
  • @OUPELTGlobal : Having started out in banking, I’ve always considered being in EFL a dream job

Colleagues

Here’s where everyone got a bit misty-eyed – it seems that colleagues are often crucial to our happiness in our work:

  • @Julian_Lenfant: Actually, I remember the great people I worked with more than the place. That was ideal!
  • @buckyacademics: Working with colleagues who want to learn and develop from each other. That’s why conferences are so great.
  • @FrancesEales: I’ve worked in many environments and never found same positive learning atmosphere as  ELT staffroom
  • @SophiaKhan4: Some fantastic, educated, intelligent, well-travelled ppl in an ELT staffroom. Spoils u for real life
  • @eltknowledge: I agree! The International House London Staffroom is electric and so supportive!
  • @teflerinha: Had a lot of dream ELT colleagues- motivated, supportive, happy to share…
  • @Shaunwilden: I think i had dream colleagues in my early days in prague, a buzzing staffroom full of supportive colleagues
  • @ hartle: We had a good atmosphere in early days in verona. Everyone on gd contracts, team spirit, which brings us back to pay etc.
  • @ OUPELTGlobal: It was a great EFL staffroom that made me stay in EFL – hadn’t really considered that in a dream job
  • @pjgallantry: in some ways, my old job at Dilko in Istanbul in the 90’s was a dream job – great friends and students, cheap booze & fags 🙂 . . . . and, of course, great lessons 😉

@theteacherjames asked:

  • what would your dream colleague be like?

sparking a flurry of responses:

  • @GemL1: like r PLN on here ~ supportive, knowledgeable, creative
  • @ PatrickAndrews: Helpful, engaged, open minded and realistic
  • @ yitzha_sarwono: people with passion on their classes 🙂
  • @ PatrickAndrews: People who read quite a lot
  • @eltknowledge: A dream colleague be like you, James! Fun, generous, intelligent and well-read, thoughtful, humble and creative!
  • @alturki3: my dream colleagues are from different backgrounds, native and nonnative teachers

Students

We also need to thank @theteacherjames for bringing up the fact that:

  • Nobody has mentioned the students – what could be more important in defining a great job for a teacher?

And to thank @yitzha_sarwono for being pretty much the only person to jump on this:

  • I’m having the best students ever! Young and restless with great enthusiasm!

 Variety

Variety is implicit in the “Opportunities” section also, but came to the forefront towards the end of the chat, when @eltknowledge wrote:

  • I know the topic is about where we’d like to end up…but perhaps the best thing about our job is constant change & learning!

@hartle agreed:

  • I don’t know where I want to “end up” either.. Ends are depressing it’s all about getting there, isn’t it 🙂

And @Shaunwilden added:

  • Very true, the constant variety is one thing that has always appealed to me and kept me energised

To sum up

Everyone had a good go at reiterating the key factors, so to sum up, a dream job is one which has

  • a good salary/fair pay
  • motivated students
  • opportunities for development/promotion
  • good location (preferably a nearby beach and with opportunities for fun/a life outside ELT)
  • freedom to teach as you want
  • appreciation and recognition
  • variety
  • flexibility
  • challenge and stimulation
  • great people (colleagues, students, parents)
  • a decent textbook and syllabus (and the freedom to decide how much to use them)

Now, is that too much to ask? Maybe all at the same time. But as the song goes, “You gotta have a dream, / If you don’t have a dream, / How you gonna have a dream come true?”

Useful links:

Bonus extras:

  • Favourite comment: @pjgallantry: ideal job? Being Scott Thornbury- does that count? 🙂

I still think they need to make a movie called that.

  • Second favourite comment: @Marisa_C: Does my ideal job have to be teaching – cos I really wish I were Annie Lennox

Feel free to file this under “Things You Can Bring Up One Day When You Meet @Marisa_C”

This summary by @sophiakhan4