As part of its comprehensive review of governance processes and structures, TESOL International Association has been examining the function and structure of its knowledge-based member communities (KBMCs). Currently known as interest sections, these communities have been a central means for members to engage with the association for many years, and it is important that we ensure first that we have a clear understanding of their functions and second that we structure them in a way that best serves those functions.
In June 2015 a task force was appointed to examine our current interest section model and to make recommendations for both the role and structure of these communities in achieving the overall mission of the association to promote quality English language teaching. Their report was shared in April 2016.
Taken together, the reports of the Governance Review Task Force and the IS Task Force signal the need for
- Greater clarity with respect to function for our KBMCs, their role in association governance, and how they should internally govern themselves
- Greater attention to the development and support of KBMC leaders and the work they are asked to do to ensure that it serves their group’s contribution to the association’s mission and vision
- Moving KBMCs from a dominant focus on convention-related tasks to being groups engaged in year-round activity
- Establishing clear pathways of communication between KBMCs, the Board of Directors, and association staff.
With these findings in mind, the Board of Directors has drafted a proposal. It was shared with interest section leaders during a Virtual Town Hall meeting on 14 December (a transcript is also available), and it is now being shared with the membership at large for comment.
We invite feedback from all members of TESOL International Association. Comments may be posted publicly below or emailed directly to me. Please submit all comments no later than 12 February 2017. The Board of Directors will review these comments with the goal of producing a draft policy on knowledge-based member communities as well as a timeline for implementation. The Board will discuss these documents at the annual convention in Seattle. The hope is that following the current online discussions and then the discussions in Seattle, we will be ready in April 2017 to adopt a new policy as well as a timeline for transitioning from the current and the new structures.