“I don’t want to be a manager – now what?”
I thought I was probably not the only one ever to have uttered these words and this has, in fact, been confirmed on the several occasions that colleagues have asked me what my topic for IATEFL this year was going to be. There are some teachers, myself included, who don’t want to run a language school, who don’t want to run things, to be in charge. We are happy teaching – be that students or other teachers, in the case of teacher trainers. This doesn’t, however, mean we want to stand still. How can teachers progress their careers if they don’t want to be managers? My talk for this year offers one answer to that question. (NB: sadly the answer doesn’t involve lots of money in most cases!)
Career progression in ELT generally goes something like: train as a teacher (often doing that well-known 4 week initial training course!), build up some skills and experience, perhaps do some further training (e.g. a diploma such as the Delta or Dip TESOL), become a senior teacher or ADoS, build up some more skills and experience (this time also in management) and eventually move into a managerial position.
My initial suggestion as an alternative to this linear progression is to diversify:
Try some new hats on. A teacher can become a student again, can do some writing, can do some research, can present. This is nothing new, of course. The question is how to systematise this. What to study? What to write? What to present? What to research? This is where, to my mind, the British Council Framework for CPD could come into it.
That’s all well and good, we have 12 practices covering a range of knowledge and skills but what do we do with this? Well, let’s recognise what it offers us first:
Focus, specificity, ideas. But how to harness these? Here is my suggested approach:
In order to use the framework, you need to be familiar with what it consists of. Download the framework from the British Council Teaching English website and have a flick through so that you can answer the following two questions –
- What are the 12 professional practices?
- What are the knowledge and skills within each?
Obviously you don’t need to know the framework by heart, that’s not such a useful skill, but it will help to be more familiar with what is in it as you move on to the following stages of the process.
At this stage, you are considering where you are at now, and you can do this in the following ways.
- Manual (Ask questions – do I do this? Can I think of concrete examples? How comfortable am I at doing this? Am I good at this? Do I need more work on this? Then once you have identified areas you might like to work on, prioritise them according to your needs/you current context/your goals etc. Where will improvement be the most beneficial to you and your learners?)
- Digital (British Council TeachingEnglish website tool to help you do this analysis)
Remember – you are human (you can’t change all the things all at once!)
This is where you –
- Pick an area
- Interrogate* it
- Interrogate yourself and your practice*
(*in the nicest possible way!)
- Find out what you want to know/change in your practice
In other words,
- Ask yourself questions
- Ask yourself more questions
- Think about the answers
- Think about how you could start to answer the unanswered questions
This is where you –
- Pick your focus (a question, a theme, a niggle that stands out in your exploration stage)
- Make a plan (First…, Second…,)
- Carry out your plan
- Monitor the process (keep notes, make adjustments if needed, branch out if needed)
At this stage, you’re going to ask yourself questions like –
- What have I learnt?
- What changes did I make? Why?
- What effect did they have?
- Was it anticipated/desired?
- How do I feel about the changes and results?
- What next?
In my talk, I took attendees through a step-by-step example of the above process using the “Using inclusive practices” component of the framework. Please refer to my slides (at the end of this post) if you want to do that too. It will probably, hopefully, then make more sense.
I finished off with some ideas of potentially useful resources that teachers might turn to during the above process, before coming to this conclusion:
Click on the above slide to download a copy of my powerpoint.
How have you used the BC framework in your development? Please do share you ideas using the comments box for this post. 🙂