5 Easy Steps to Owning

your Professional Learning

I almost feel like the natural thing is to be part of a community when you’re a teacher. Since being a teacher is all about sharing your knowledge, it makes perfect sense. But, does that mean we should do so exclusively with our students?

In a previous blog on ELT Think Tank, we already went through the differences between professional development and professional learning. We could say that at the core of professional learning, a big difference with professional development, is the need to create a community. In these communities, teachers can find a haven to continue learning. Now, you don’t have to wait for your institution to make the change. You can make it on your own and begin your professional learning process whenever you want.

Here are 5 easy steps you can take to begin your professional learning plan.

STEP 1: Join PLN

As we said before, joining a community will be vital to starting your PL process. A Professional Learning Network, or PLN, could be in a physical space like your school, or a digital one like a Facebook group. ELT Think Tank has a Facebook page that you’d love!

Although, I should mention. The simple fact of joining a group will not be enough. For you to truly be part of a PLN there are some rules you need to follow.

  1. Stay up to date: If you only check your network once a month, you won’t get an enriching experience out of it. So, join a PLN that posts at least once a day. A place where you can continuously get curated material about English Language Teaching. Check out our page and see for yourself.
  2. Participate: If you are only a visitor, you’ll never be part of the community. This means you have to participate for it to be part of your PL. You can participate by sharing articles, experiences, images, and other things you think might help fellow teachers.
  3. Share: Your knowledge is important to helping your community grow. If you have an idea or a solution to someone else’s predicament, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. Your idea may be just what the teacher needed. And of course, share with others the content you find interesting.
  4. Comment: When you see a post you find interesting, comment. By writing a comment, you are promoting an open learning environment, where other teachers will do the same. It all begins with you.

STEP 2: Create an outlet

You’ll find out early on that keeping track of your PL will be necessary. If you don’t you’ll never know exactly what you’re learning. So create an outlet. It can be a blog, a journal or simply comments on your PLN. Writing your thoughts about a topic will help you make it your own and easier to apply to your context. Soon, at ELT Think Tank we’ll offer you a space where you can do just this.

STEP 3: Set real goals

If you’re interested in your PL, you’ll need to start off by setting your goals. These goals will vary greatly, depending on a number of things. You could get started by analyzing the core competences in English Language Teaching. You can take this short quiz and see where you are right now. You’ll get an email with the results and some suggestions on how you can get started. 

Once you’re done, decide where you see yourself professionally. This could mean changing from schools to language centers, or from being a teacher to a coordinator, or even from being a teacher to a translator. Whatever it may be, you need to make concrete goals for your PL to work. You also need to make your goals specific. These are some examples.

I would like to teach IELTS preparation courses for next year.”  

“I would like to know more about how to improve my student’s writing skills in the next month.”

Remember to make them SMART goals!

STEP 4: Flip it

If at your school, they are still focused on Professional Development. Flip it! The same as you would do if you were flipping your classroom.

If you flip it, you can change how that PD session will impact your PL plan. You can flip it with three easy steps:

  1. Find out what the topic is for your next PD conference or workshop. Hopefully, you’ll have at least one week before the session.
  2. Now, it’s time to learn more about this topic. You can read an article, watch a video, or look up a research paper. The more you learn the better.
  3. Share your thoughts on this topic in your PLN. Get feedback on some of your questions or doubts. And prepare at least 3 questions, which will be your personal learning objectives for the PD session.

STEP 5: Challenge yourself

When planning what to learn, make sure you are challenging yourself. Every day should be a new challenge. Find topics that will help you perform better in your specific context.

At the end of the day, everyone’s PL plan will be very different. Hopefully, it will be personalized in a way that your progress can be measured by your students’ performance. Click To Tweet


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