Last week, TESOL professionals from around the world gathered at the 2012 TESOL convention to exchange ideas and information about English language teaching. The end of the convention should not signal the end of professional development, however. Continuing to build our skills and knowledge is an investment—in ourselves, our students, and our profession—that is worth pursuing year round. While busy schedules and shrinking budgets may make professional development seem unattainable, fortunately there are many resources for expanding your professional knowledge that require little time and no money. Here are a few of my favorites:
TESOL Resource Center
TESOL members can take advantage of the online TESOL Resource Center, which provides free resources such as classroom activities, lesson plans, assessments, teaching tips, presentations, articles, and more. Check it out if you haven’t already! (And nonmenbers, take heart: When the TESOL’s new website launches, nonmembers will have access to resources as well.)
Publisher websites are designed to market their products, but many of them also offer valuable resources that can be used with their publications or independently. For example, Pearson ELT provides professional development webinars, blogs, articles, podcasts, and videocasts, plus classroom resources and online communities. Browse the web pages of your favorite publishers and see what they have to offer.
Schools, universities, and other educational organizations frequently offer various professional development opportunities to their employees. For example, I’ve attended short workshops on Moodle, web design, and other useful technology through my university’s IT department. My university also hosts guest lectures and presentations by colleagues that provide new perspectives on teaching and learning. Keep an eye out for such opportunities via email notifications, event calendars, flyers, and your institution’s website.
Peer-to-Peer Learning and Networking
Professional development opportunities are as close as your nearest colleague. Each of us has unique perspectives, experience, skills, and knowledge about English language teaching. Even the most informal discussion with colleagues, both within your department and across disciplines, can provide fresh ideas and insight on classroom activities and teaching practices. Connect with your colleagues and see how much you can learn.
What are your favorite professional development resources? Share them here!