September 8, 2014
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2014 Affiliate Workshop
Rehab Rajab, TESOL Arabia President;TESOL Arabia

At the recent TESOL Arabia international conference, I was given the opportunity to be part of the plenary opening session where I shared the success of TESOL Arabia during 2013–2014. It is indeed rewarding to celebrate success, but what is more rewarding is knowing that a dedicated team of volunteers are behind this success, working on weekends, sometimes two weekends in a row, and on working days after long hours of teaching, marking, and doing admin work to keep this organization going.

Organizations such as TESOL Arabia thrive on its volunteer force to provide their services to educators. Yet, sometimes it can be quite challenging to find enough teachers willing to dedicate some of their time to serve the profession in this way. That is why I truly believe that belonging to a teachers’ association or organization should be part of teachers’ education. Giving back to the profession should play a major role in teachers’ career. Not only because it helps the profession develop, but also because it helps individual educators grow beyond their work environments.

                                        TESOL Arabia Volunteers

TESOL Arabia has launched many initiatives recently. These were inspired by the organization’s strategic plan, which aimed mainly at increasing membership, supporting the organization’s volunteers, and providing a wider variety of professional development (PD) opportunities. One of the new programs focuses on conducting community outreach PD events to both members and nonmembers at no cost. Our second program, which will be launched in April 2014, focuses on designing PD activities exclusively for TESOL Arabia volunteers.

It gives me pleasure to report that TESOL Arabia has been as dynamic as ever. We have had more than 40 chapter and special interest group local events this year. We have an increased interest in hands-on and practical PD activities, as opposed to research-based presentations. This could be a result of the growing membership from K–12 schools.

The online presence of the organization has grown substantially this year through social media, with more than 6,300 Facebook fans, almost 2,700 Twitter followers, and 1,500 members of the TESOL Arabia group on LinkedIn. We post all the news related to upcoming PD activities by TESOL Arabia as well as PD opportunities by other institutions on our social media pages, so like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to hear about interesting sessions all year long. We hope to see TESOL Arabia flourish online in order to extend professional development beyond geographical boundaries and to cultivate the benefits of reaching a wider audience.

A successful 20th international conference, co-chaired by Les Kirkham and Sandra Oddy, attracted more than 1,600 attendees this year. The conference was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dubai from 12–16 March 2014. Next year, the conference will be co-chaired by Melanie Gobert, TESOL Arabia incoming president, and me. The theme of the conference is “Theory, Practice, Innovation: Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age.”

One of the new benefits for TESOL Arabia members is the possibility of receiving one of the seven 1-year complimentary TESOL International Association memberships. This year, seven TESOL Arabia members who renewed or joined the organization between 15 November 2013 and 15 January 2014 qualified for a draw and won a membership worth US$95. The criteria to grant these complimentary memberships to TESOL Arabia members will vary from year to year, so we will make an announcement about this soon.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all TESOL Arabia volunteers, who devote hundreds of hours serving the organization. Special thanks go to four TESOL Arabia Executive Council members who have relinquished their leadership positions: Les Kirkham, membership secretary; Sally McQuinn, eastern region chapter representative; Amr Al Zarkam, Sharjah Chapter representative; and James McDonald, TESOL Arabia past president. All four have supported TESOL Arabia for years, and we would like to wish them all the best.

We would like to wish you all a great conference and hope to hear more about other affiliates’ news in the coming year.

Rehab Rajab has been involved in professional development activities for teachers in the UAE through her work with TESOL Arabia since 2007. Currently, she is the president of the organization. She worked as an ESL teacher for 12 years in Egypt and the UAE before becoming instructional technology supervisor and teacher trainer at The Institute of Applied Technology in 2012, where she designs educational technology professional development courses for 600 teachers. Rehab is passionate about sharing innovative teaching ideas and developing online learning communities. She holds an MA in educational technology from Michigan State University; she’s also an Apple Distinguished Educator and an Authorized Apple Professional Development Trainer.
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