(image taken from: http://www.capitaeducation.co.uk/newly-qualified-teachers-news-and-advice)
#ELTchat is a group of ELT professionals discussing topics of interest every Wednesday at 12pm or 9pm on rotation. Every Saturday, one of the moderators puts up a blog post on the #ELTchat Blog asking teachers who follow #ELTchat to propose some topics for the next chats. #ELTchat followers can go to that post and suggest topics in the comments under the blog post. On Sunday evening, the moderators review the topics and create an online poll. #ELTchat followers are then invited to vote on the topics until Wednesday morning (eltchat.org)
This week’s topic was “How can newly-qualified teachers best use what they learn in the first few years of their career to develop into successful Teachers?” Click here for the transcript of the discussion.
One of the very first things we discussed was the overwhelming feeling one might get when attempting their first steps in online PD.
This feeling can be summarized in the following questions:
@JoHart suggested NQTs find mentors. Indeed, having someone to help you with your PD is very important. Some people said that the NQT’s trainer can function as their mentor (@angelos_bollas), while others suggested the NQT’s DOS (@ShaunWilden).
@Marisa_C stressed the importance of curation tools such as pinterest, diigio, etc.
BUILDING A PLN
The next question to be answered was how to start building one’s PLN. @leoselivan said that one should follow one or two educators (trainers, tutors, DOS, etc) and explore their connections.
He also brought up the #FF hashtag, a way for twitter users to recommend people to follow on twitter (#FF stands for Follow Friday). @patrickelt suggested NQTs follow their colleagues and their connections.
FACEBOOK, TWITTER, OR…
@JoHart highlighted the importance of finding one’s comfort zone. There are people who find Facebook, for example, to be easier to use than Twitter and others who use Google+.
However, social networks are not the only means through which one can obtain PD. Here are some other ideas:
-Collaborative wikis with colleagues or fellow-trainees (@angelos_bollas)
-Blogging – reflect on professional practice, read other people’s reflections (@Marisa_C)
-British Council recorded webinars (@SophiaKhan4)
-Other webinars offered by institutions/organisations such as IATEFL, Macmillan Education, etc. (@Marisa_C)
-Cambridge English Teacher: resources, discussions, webinars (@racheldaw18)
-Various youtube channels (@cherrymp)
-Useful journals like ELTJ (@patrickelt)
For a novice teacher, said @patrickelt, time management (in and outside the classroom) can be of an issue. Therefore, it is important for them to organize their time effectively. @olyaelt focused on the importance of setting a PD plan, like the one that is usually set after the completion of a CELTA course. She also said that colleagues could create a shared document in Google docs and share their PD plan with one another.
Using the British Council comprehensive CPD framework is very useful (@leoselivan). @angelos_bollas discussed the importance of having a schedule for one’s PD activities (e.g. Monday: update pinterest account, Tuesday: read three blogposts and comment on them, etc.)
Networking is undoubtedly the first step towards one’s development. What NQTs need is to be encouraged to set short-term and achievable goals (@SophiaKhan4). They also need to build their confidence (@JoHart).
In the words of @Marisa_C “The web’s your oyster. Take advantage and learn all you can but give back to your community.”