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August 2013
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TESOL Governance Review: Update

As reported in the March 2013 issue of TESOL Connections, a task force has been appointed by the TESOL International Association Board of Directors to evaluate the current governance of TESOL International Association and—if warranted—propose changes to improve its efficiency and efficacy at meeting the needs of the membership. Following an extensive period of research and study on association governance, the task force provided an initial update to the Board of Directors at their meeting at the 2013 TESOL International Convention and English Language Expo in Dallas, Texas, USA.

Vision and Plan
As a first step, the task force developed a vision for effective governance for the association. This vision draws upon much of the authoritative literature on association governance, and both supplements and aligns with the charge for the task force developed by the Board: TESOL International Association will have a governance system that

  • efficiently and effectively responds to the evolving needs of TESOL members and the profession;
  • supports communities of practice;
  • facilitates collaboration in a professional learning community; and
  • is built on a culture of knowledge, trust, nimbleness, and transparency.

Simultaneously, the task force developed a plan on how the governance review will be executed. The review plan comprises four basic phases, summarized here:




Develop Vision, Outcomes, and Performance Indicators

September 2013–March 2013

Conduct Research and Analysis 

April 2013–October 2013

Design Recommendations 

November 2013–March 2014 

Approve and Implement Recommendations 


While the task force is responsible for Phases 1–3, the Board of Directors will be responsible for the approval and implementation of the recommendations. (Thus, no specific timeline is yet determined.) Each phase is composed of multiple objectives and action steps, including outreach to leaders and members. A detailed plan is available on the Governance Review update page on the TESOL website.

Leadership Input
At the 2013 TESOL International Convention in March, the task force initiated the research and analysis phase of the plan by providing updates to association leaders on their progress and collecting some preliminary feedback. Specifically, participants at the Leadership Briefing and the Affiliate Assembly were provided an overview of the task force’s work, and then asked to provide their feedback in response to a series of statements relating to governance of the association. The comments covered a wide range of perspectives and voices; some of the feedback is summarized here, categorized according to the areas of governance to which they apply:

  • Clear roles and responsibilities within the association
    • The main purpose of TESOL International Association is to provide professional development, advocacy, and resources for the field. The roles and responsibilities of committees, interest sections, and affiliates in achieving that purpose need to be clearly defined.
    • Roles and responsibilities for leaders within the association should be transparent and continually supported with training and resources across member groups.
  • Clear communication and sharing of knowledge and expertise within the association.
    • Knowledge and information for all members should be facilitated by a number of means and opportunities (online and in person).
    • Communication channels between and among member groups should be easily identifiable and dialogic (i.e., two-way).
  • Making the best use of the association’s resources (time, money, and expertise)
    • Expertise of members should be easily identifiable and visible within the association.
    • Knowledge and information on the association’s resources is not always known, but should be available.
  • Ensuring all member groups within the association have high impact and are enabled to contribute their knowledge and expertise.
    • All member groups are aligned with the association’s mission and strategic plan.
    • Opportunities to contribute knowledge and expertise are transparent.
    • Visibility is important for member groups.
  • Responding to issues of importance to the TESOL profession.
    • Issues have various stakeholders: teachers, learners, and communities. Prioritizing the issues is critical for the association.
    • Member groups have easily identifiable opportunities to contribute and respond to issues.
    • The association collaborates with other like-minded organizations in response to issues, including TESOL affiliates.
  • Nurturing leadership and advocacy within the TESOL profession.
    • Effective leaders should cultivate engagement through substantive work that contributes to the mission and strategic plan of the association.
    • Leaders at all levels require continuous training to ensure effective contributions.
    • Connecting leaders across the association will help in building a strong community.

Using this feedback from leaders, the task force developed a framework for effective governance with a series of outcome statements and performance indicators. This framework will be used to guide the data collection and analysis phase of the review plan.

Next Steps
To continue with the research and analysis phase, additional feedback from leaders will be needed. To facilitate this process, the task force is developing a series of surveys and online focus group discussions for leaders and other stakeholders. These will be conducted through August and September, along with a review of relevant governance documents (e.g., standing rules, reports, and manuals.) A preliminary analysis and findings will be provided to the Board of Directors and the membership in October and November 2013.

Moving forward, the task force will continue its work under the leadership of Denise Murray of Macquarie University. Denise succeeds Brock Brady as chair, who had to step down due to obligations with his work at the Peace Corps. Additional information from the task force is available on the TESOL website.

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Table of Contents
TC Homepage
Strategies for Large Classrooms
Lesson Plan: Critical Thinking
Grammar Using Engaging Contexts
Quick Tip: 5-Minute Activities
2013 Advocacy & Policy Summit
TESOL Governance Review Update
Association News
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