Teachers’ Magazines and Professional Development

Les KirkhamLes Kirkham shares his experience and gives some suggestions on reading professional magazines.


 

When I was a young teacher just beginning my career many years ago in Africa, I did not have the benefit of a teachers’ association where I worked. There were no regular professional development (PD) activities. I had very few ELT colleagues because we were in a rural area. My school Director was not an English teacher so could not give advice. I had some visits from a Ministry Inspector, but very few, and they were usually about whether I had completed all the reports and filled in all the forms.

How could I keep up my PD? What could I do to help myself? Eventually, I subscribed to an ELT magazine published in the UK and posted to me in Africa. Every month I looked forward to getting this mag, and if it was late I got worried. When it arrived I read all of it in one evening. I was thirsty for ideas and this mag was full of other peoples’ ideas. It was my professional link to the outside world and made me feel I was not alone in the world of teaching.

At first I was undiscriminating. I read everything: I tried everything in class. Some things worked, and some did not. Some ideas made me think of further ideas, so I tried them as well. Some worked, and some did not. What was happening? I was conducting my own teacher-training course by myself, and very soon I began to realise I should have more structure to this self-development.
Now I realise that an important part of teaching is reflecting on your lessons. What was effective? What was not effective? What could be improved? What should be thrown out? And also for me as a teacher: What am I doing that could be better? What should I stop doing?

As a young teacher I eventually realised that reflection and reading PD magazines should be complementary activities – one feeds into the other, and both can support each other. If we, as teachers, form an honest view of our own performance, we can turn to PD mags to seek ways to improve everything we do. Sometimes we have to be brave to try something new, and we also have to be discriminating to judge what applies to our situation and what does not.

So as you read this brand new magazine, specially produced for teachers in Uzbekistan, please reflect on how it can support your own teaching. Is there something here I can use? Is there something here that will give me a better idea of effective teaching and learning? Once you start asking, the answers will come, and you will develop.

And once you have done this, go on to the next step: How can I contribute to this mag? What can I share with my colleagues? There always comes a point when your expertise and experience turns you from a consumer into a producer of PD.

So please think about these two areas:
1) reflect, read and experiment
2) reflect and share

This is YOUR magazine. Please use it, contribute to it, and support it! I wish you all, “Happy Teaching and Learning!”


Les Kirkham (Proud Honorary Life Member of UzTEA).

 

Taken from ALT FL №1 2015


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