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December 2019
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From the Executive Director: Inspiring Action at the Virtual TESOL Town Hall
by Christopher Powers, TESOL Executive Director

When people ask me what TESOL’s strength is, I always say it is our volunteers, including our leaders. With our election just past, I hope you all know about our newly filled president, board of directors, and Nominating Committee roles. But do you know that we have more than 250 volunteer leadership positions in TESOL? Our 19 interest sections (ISs) and 13 Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) have chairs or cochairs, newsletter editors, and community managers, among other positions; our affiliates have their own presidents, officers, and boards of directors; and our professional councils have between six and 16 members. Beyond these ongoing governance and member-serving groups, we also offer shorter term opportunities to serve on task forces, review session proposals, and volunteer at the Convention. These are all incredibly valuable roles, and we would not be the association we are today—the trusted global authority for knowledge and expertise in English language teaching—without this amazing and essential talent.

Last month, we held a virtual town hall to bring together all of our leaders. We reviewed our strategic direction, talked about how we could better engage members at the Convention and throughout the year, and discussed ways in which all of our groups could better work with our board. Our shared goals are our strategic outcomes of greater global presence and connectivity, broader sharing of our knowledge and expertise, and a stronger collective voice to advocate for English language teachers and learners.

Rather than hold separate meetings with our affiliate, IS, PLN, and professional council leaders, we sought for the second consecutive year to bring all of our leaders together in one collective community to discuss the issues that affect us all—and that we can address for all of our benefit. After we reviewed the strategic plan, TESOL President Deborah Healey mentioned our latest leadership groups. Many of you know about our Diverse Voices Task Force, but Deborah and Past President Luciana de Oliveira, the board liaison to the task force, gave us an update on the task force’s progress. Deborah also unveiled our latest professional council, just approved at our last board meeting: the Membership Professional Council. The call for new members of this council will go out prior to the Convention. Most interestingly, the Membership Professional Council will be charged with piloting a new membership mentoring program, which was first suggested by Awards Council member and First-Timer Orientation leader Nikki Ashcraft at this meeting last year.

This year, we heard more great ideas. Chadia Mansour, former chair of the English as a Foreign Language IS and recently elected Nominating Committee member, detailed a new open educational resource (OER) project that she and others have been working on. She described the project as being conceived when members of the English as a Foreign Language IS, meeting in person at the TESOL Convention in Atlanta, talked about how they could help address some of the priorities outlined in the Action Agenda for the Future of the TESOL Profession. She then followed up with Lisa Horvath and Charity Davenport of the Materials Writers IS and Sharon Tjaden-Glass of the Intercultural Communication IS to see how these groups could help collaborate. Seeking even broader engagement, she also reached out over the myTESOL IS community to find other collaborators. Heidi Faust, TESOL’s professional learning director, talked through what was possible and agreed to help support the OER project in our TESOL Resource Center (TRC). I loved the idea, because it demonstrated both in person and online engagement and collaboration among different member groups and between leaders and staff. And while conceived to support Action Agenda goals, the plan also clearly advances our strategic outcomes. This is truly an example of TESOLers working together to support our common interests. Stay tuned for more on this project.

There were also some other great engagement ideas. Last year, we spoke a lot about newsletters and webinars—and those are still great ways for our members to connect. But this year, we also heard Aylin Baris Atilgan Relyea, incoming chair of the Second Language Writing IS, and Elizabeth Schade, of the Adult Education IS, talk about book clubs that their ISs have been organizing. Fernando de Léon of Panama TESOL talked about offering annual affiliate awards. Others described using Padlet, Google Groups, WhatsApp groups, Twitter chats (I’m game! Please include me @TESOL_Powers), and other social media platforms as innovative ways to connect and engage during and outside the convention.

For several years, we have had board liaisons for each of our professional councils. With the establishment of our new community of practice structure, we wanted a more robust board relationship with our ISs. So it was great to have so many of our board members present at the town hall to talk about what they could do to better support our ISs. Board members are not intended to advocate for any particular IS to the exclusion of all others, but they are here to help IS leaders see how we can all work together toward our common goals. They can clarify our strategic direction, share concerns or opportunities the ISs may raise with the board as a whole, serve as a sounding board, and help point ISs toward resources or staff members for further information and support.

The town hall offered a real opportunity for dialogue, to share information, to seek and provide feedback, and to inspire new ideas for action. By the time we meet again in person in Denver, I expect our Membership Professional Council will be in place and our mentoring program will be initiated. I expect to see the OER project further along, with a way to share OERs and new resources available for members with limited resources. And I hope to hear about the next great idea that can help bring us together to support English language teachers. Great ideas can come at any time and from anywhere.

So if you have thoughts or ideas you would like to explore, please feel free to write to me or to share ideas within your myTESOL community or even in the myTESOL Lounge. And don’t forget to volunteer the next time you see a call for TESOL leaders. This is our association. We need all of us to work together to succeed!

Christopher Powers
TESOL Executive Director
Email: cpowers@tesol.org
Twitter: @TESOL_Powers

 

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Table of Contents
TC Homepage
5 Ways to Get Your Adult ELs Speaking in the Real World
Quick Arts-Based Activities to Enliven Your Classroom
ELT Resource Roundup: December Celebrations
Differentiated Instruction: Recognising Diversity in EFL Classes
From the ED: Inspiring Action
Association News
Resources
Job Link
Assistant Professor of TESOL/World Language; The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA

High School English Writing Teacher in China; Jinling High School, American Division, Nanjing, China

Summer Student Teaching Opportunity for TESOL Grad Students/Recent MATESOL Grads; Manhattan College, New York City, New York, USA



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Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages

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