Steve Darn - ELT
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TTD: What's Happening in Your Department?

Whether you are a head of department, a senior teacher, or in your first year of teaching, ask yourself the question 'is anything changing in my department, in my classroom, in my teaching?'

If the answer to this question is 'No, not much', then you be running one or more of the following risks:

  • Your department is static rather than dynamic
  • Standards are not being raised
  • You are not aware that alsmost every aspect of language teaching is constantly changing
  • You are not aware of the range of new materials, resourses, course and seminar programmes designed to help your professional development
  • You are becoming bored and unmotivated
  • Your students are not getting the best from you

Everyone needs to develop professionally, and everyone needs help to do so, yet many departments fail to provide or support teacher development, while many teachers fail to grasp oportunities when they arise. Some further questions to ask may be:

  • Does your department have a teacher development programme and somebody to organise it?
  • Are teachers observed and given feedback on lessons?
  • Are teachers encouraged to carry out peer observations?
  • Does your department have a range of resource books to give teachers new ideas?
  • Do you and your colleagues attend local workshops and seminars?
  • Has anybody in your department been on a course recently and come back and told you what they learnt?
  • Does your department subscribe to any language teaching magazines or journals?

If the answer to all or most of these questions is again negative, it is likely that there is little development or change going on in your teaching situation. It is not necessarily the responsibility of the school management or the head of department to instigate and organise teacher development. Often the initiative comes from a group of motivated or inexperienced teachers who see the need for further training, who are then supported by the head of department and school management. In any case, there needs to be an initiative, someone to take responsibility and give support. Everyone in a department has a role to play in the development process. Are you doing anything?

This article first published April 1997 Longman Teacher Link Issue 2