I was back in Russia last month (the cold!) giving talks in three, new for me, cities: Kaliningrad on the Baltic coast, hometown of the philosopher Immanuel Kant—in fact my talks there were at the Immanuel Kant University; Krasnodar near the Black Sea, not far from Sochi where the 2014 Winter Olympics are to be held (and headquarters of the Kuban—the name of the local river—Cossacks); and Yaroslavl, one of the cities outside the so-called Golden Ring around Moscow and home of the first woman cosmonaut who has an arena there named after her.
I was giving different talks, mainly on the Cambridge University Press and Cambridge ESOL partnership – Cambridge English and Cambridge ELT materials for Cambridge ESOL exams as well as the Cambridge English for Schools programme. But with the audiences we also talked about using supplementary materials and ideas for professional development including the new Cambridge English Teacher website.
There are of course many ways to progress as a teacher:
- attending conferences and seminars (and networking during them!)
- personal reflection and action research on your teaching
- sharing your ideas and challenges (‘No problems, only solutions.’ as John Lennon sang) with your colleagues and peers
- participating in workshops and swap shops organised in your own school
- staying up-to-date in the field by reading professional books, journals, websites (and blogs)
- joining and participating in your local–and international—teachers’ associations
- maybe even taking a course for professional development.
All of the above can be achieved through Cambridge English Teacher. And, as I told the teachers in Russia, now there’s the new Cambridge English Teacher website where you can do those things online: network and interact with other ELT professionals from around the world; participate in webinars and take online self-study professional development courses (for which you receive a certificate for your own official or just personal professional development Portfolio); record and show your achievements; read articles from a library of methodological resources; get a subscription to the English Teaching Professional online magazine. Why not have a look at http://www.CambridgeEnglishTeacher.org to find out how to register and join!?
So how do you get your professional development, i.e. how does your tree grow?
You know, I once met a man at the Technical University in Al Ain, one of the United Arab Emirates, who was running the language department there and who was getting ready to go off (to Spain, I think) to an IATEFL SIG (Special Interest Group) Teacher Development conference. And he said something that I’ll always remember: in fact every member of IATEFL—and every teacher!—should be part of a Teacher Development SIG because, well, that’s what being a professional is all about: growth, progress, development.
Maybe I’ll run into to him at the IATEFL UK conference later this month in Glasgow—where I also look forward to maybe meeting some of you too!
Gary Anderson, Cambridge ELT International Teacher Trainer