A few weeks ago, I caught myself writing a hateful blog post. I was upset, confused and blue, and I must confess that leaving ELT was, for the first time ever, number one on my list.
Thank Heavens for my family, friends, colleagues, reiki and a good dose of Bach flower remedies. Yes, I was about to become a quitter, for the very first time in my life.
I am an avid user of social media, though I recognize and appreciate its benefits, such as interaction, networking and sharing, having used Facebook has become ludicrous. As an EFL teacher and teacher trainer, I operate social media as a way to not only connect with people, but also advertise my work, because let’s be honest, one must earn a living.
For some time now, I have been observing an avalanche of advertisements on courses, workshops, trainers and the like. You must be thinking: “Isn’t it great? Now we have access to more courses and workshops.” Well, indeed. Information has never been easier and courses are one way to go.
But I can’t help but wonder: when should we say “enough”?
I draw a line when colleagues start calling each other “divas” or “kings”. Professional development shouldn’t be about who becomes the “Career Development Diva Extraordinaire” or the “YL Queen”, it’s about evolution, progress and reaching goals, personal goals.
Even though I have been working as a teacher for 17 years, I have never felt that what I knew was enough. Some friends call me a “CPD addict”, I actually “get high” on learning, knowing that I will be challenged makes me realize I can do more (and I’m not talking about certificates or diplomas, but skills). Not long ago I started presenting at conferences, so it seems to some that I’m the “New Kid on the Block”, it’s true, to some extent. My feeling back then was translated into words last Sunday, during a Game of Thrones episode (yes, I’m a fan.): “I’m tired of reading of the achievements of better men.” said Samwell Tarly, so I began to write because I too had a story to tell.
Regardless of social media and the pressure we all suffer from the market and, more importantly, from one another, we should focus on what WE want to develop, whether you want to learn more about language, or teaching skills, become the best version of what you want for yourself because that is who you are going to see in the mirror every day, not your persona. Some might say that you are “apagadinha” (unnoticed) on Facebook and that will certainly affect your income, others might approach you because they actually care.
David Master, a former Harvard Business School Professor, once said: “Professionalism is not a label you give yourself – it’s a description you hope others will apply to you.” Your actions and nature will resound, and this cannot be measure by the number of likes. I have recently read a post by Elaine Hodgson about “The price we pay for (not) promoting ourselves.”, and I have to agree with her. It is unfair. We end up being forgotten if we don’t post here and there, everywhere. As beautifully said by Elaine, “let’s not get vain”, what matters is the work we perform, the student we help and the lives we touch while teaching.
In conclusion, professional development must be about what you want for your career, it’s a very personal plan and odyssey, and there is no room for “divas”, “queens” and “kings”, only for growth mindset.
Daenerys Targaryen – Mother of Dragons.