Here is a great overview article by Jim Knight about professional development – it’s actually a manual on how to avoid stagnation! It covers the reasons why are we sometimes stuck in a rut, what is it that we fear, and how we can get out of the ‘Zero-Learning Zone’. The author offers a lot of techniques to try, from design thinking to doing a hope audit (that’s a new one for me), and after reading this there can be no more excuses – would you agree? 🙂
Today I’ve been trying to make sense of this article from ‘Popular Psychology’ popularising research into teachers’ job satisfaction. The central idea of it is ‘job crafting’ . To explain it, the author (Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D.) quotes the original article: people “re-engineer their jobs from within as a way to find increased meaningfulness”. Apparently, for teachers this means not only adapting their teaching approach to different groups of students, but also changing and re-defining their roles at work, especially during the times of big organisational changes.
Is job crafting viewed as something positive? On the one hand, yes – people take ownership of their work and see it as their ‘calling’. On the other hand, the research showed that teachers engage in more job crafting when they get less administrative support and are less satisfied with their work – so it’s more of a coping strategy and a sign that the teachers need more help.
What do you think? Do you do a lot of ‘job crafting’ at work?
Another of my favourite authors is David Geurin (you may have read the posts Passion or proficiency? or Teachers as warm demanders): his texts are sometimes controversial, but always encourage reflection. And this post, “What would happen you weren’t successful?”, seems a great find for the coming New Year and the plans we’re setting ourselves. There’s too little time and no enough resources to do everything, so how do you choose your priorities? David suggests thinking about the consequences of not doing what you have in mind. If nothing really horrible happens – well, then perhaps it’s not the biggest priority, and vice versa.
What do you think, would this work for you?
This article is mostly about corporate training and how it can be transferred from face-to-face sessions to the virtual environment, both synchronous and asynchronous, but it has excellent advice for language teachers as well: which activities lend themselves well to the new medium, and which should be left out, how you can use features of the software for more interactivity, when it’s time to go into presentation mode and how you make sure that your audience is not bored to death. My favourite tip for getting quick feedback from the listeners: change your status from the green tick to the red cross if you haven’t had experience with a concept. Sooooo simple, and yet so effective!
I’ve already shared reading about teachers being like cats, or pirates, or many other things. Now, this post by Jimmy Casas is interesting not just for a new analogy, but the whole discussion around it. What negative effects can the ‘rock-star’ status have for the ‘rock-star’ teacher and his or her colleagues? If you are a manager, how do you recognise your teachers’ achievements? Do you give them a public award, compliment them in the teachers’ room, send a quiet email or talk to them privately? This really made me think.
And how do you like to be recognised for your work?
You must have heard of Communities of Practice before: it’s people doing something similar (not necessarily together), sharing knowledge and supporting each other. This literature overview by Catlin Tucker dots a few ‘i’s’ for me and yet brings up even more questions: a community of practice has to be something recognised by all its members, and there have to be some results, a repository of resources developed over time. So, when teachers form a community in the teachers’ room and share resources, is this a community of practice yet? Or should we provide a more formal structure for that, a way of communication, and some place to store and organise professional knowledge? (And when does an informal community of practice become too top-down for its members to enjoy?)
So, if you’re reading this, do you consider yourself part of a community of practice? How is it different for you from a group of people sharing a common interest?
I once wrote about ‘black swans’ and tried to imagine what they would be in English language teaching; here is another article about them, this time in education. If these sudden unpredictable changes can make a project fail, why not attempt to predict them. Looks like a contradiction in terms: how can you predict the unpredictable? And yet the author’s idea is sound enough: if you do the ‘premortem’ discussion and imagine what could have gone wrong, you can still prevent some of the risks and prep your mind for early detection of others.
I wonder if Delta lesson write-ups aren’t like little premortems. I anticipate problems with this, this and that….