You’ve been working as a TEFL teacher for a while. That means it’s time to open your own school, transition into textbook writing, move to a new country, try out a new type of student or class, or make some other change to your career. Right? Wrong! There is no reason to change things if you’re currently happy!
You can’t let yourself and your skills get stagnant though. Keeping the same job doesn’t mean keeping the same lessons and practices. As a teacher, you know the importance of lifelong learning. Don’t neglect your own learning!
What to work on?
Before you try the ideas below, you need an honest assessment of your skills and your wants. If your writing lessons are so good that your Academic Manager has other teachers coming to observe and get ideas… well, that’s probably not an area that you need to improve. Look at the notes from your observations, read your student feedback forms, and listen to your gut about which lessons didn’t quite hit the mark. If you’re really stumped, ask your students or your boss for feedback.
Once you know what you need to work on, you can seek out resources (of various types) that will help you improve that specific skills. Keep reading for ways to continue learning and improving after you’ve identified your weak spots.
There is a wealth of books available for teachers looking for improving their skills. Looking to improve your speaking lessons? There’s a book for that. Play the same games over and over and want to spice things up? There’s a book for that. Regardless of your trouble area, books are the answer. That said, there are a lot of books out there! Which books are the best?
Check at your school. Most schools should have a library available for teachers. If a book is in your library, chances are good that it’s there because someone thought it was useful. Its inclusion alone is a positive review, but you can also ask your fellow teachers if they’ve read it and what they thought.
If you’re not lucky enough to have access to a library at your school, check Amazon for reviews of books you’re considering. You can buy from another retailer, but it’s a great place to get opinions of others before you buy.
There is also a lot of book series. If you, or someone you know, has had success with one book from a series, you should feel confident checking out that or another book from the series.
Take a look at our selection of books for the TEFL professional.
When did you do your TEFL certification course? It might be time for a refresher! There are a lot of courses, both online and in-person, that help you improve your skills in specific areas. There is a large range of course lengths, types and prices. You’re sure to find something that’s a perfect fit for you.
The most popular courses tend to be about teaching young learners and going more in-depth into the topics covered in your original TEFL certification. Young learner courses are especially popular for teachers currently in or considering a move to, Asia. And the more in-depth courses can help you really solidify your all-around skills or improve your chances of getting better jobs.
We have a course on teaching English to young learners and another course on lesson planning if you’re interested in improving in one of those areas. We also have a full array of TEFL certification courses if you aren’t certified yet.
These are big on Facebook. There are a ton of groups that you can join to get advice and support. They can get super specific too! Try searching for TEFL lesson sharing groups. Or online teachers for specific companies. Most cities (or regions, or countries) have teaching groups as well. If you find the right one, these pages are often a goldmine of information for your specific circumstance. Join a few and see which ones are useful to you.
If you work for a big school, you should have workshops. Even small schools tend to try to include these. So what is a workshop? It’s simply getting together to share ideas with your coworkers. You know, the people doing the same job in the same city with very similar students. Workshops are a good reminder that you’re not alone in this and you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Lean on others and let them lean on you!
Workshops can be about any topic. At the beginning of the year, a workshop about culture and what to expect from students would be a huge help to teachers new to the city or country. Mid-year would be a good time for a games workshop to give everyone new ideas before the students tire of their old ones.
These don’t need to be formal. If your school doesn’t offer them, consider starting them for yourself. Invite the other teachers from your school or open it up to teachers from other schools in your city.
Look at TEFL blogs for tips. You can get information about nearly anything TEFL-related from a blog. Follow some blogs. This one publishes four articles a week so you’re sure to find what you’re looking for in our archives. Most blogs also have the option to have new posts sent to you weekly or as they’re published. You’ll get the tips delivered directly to your inbox. It couldn’t be easier to stay on top of what is happening in the industry.
There are a number of different types of blogs for you to choose from. You can find general blogs that cover topics in all areas of TEFL. There are also blogs specific to one thing; teaching in Germany, speaking skills, test prep courses, etc. Google some topics you’re interested in and find some blogs to follow for either all-around advice or something more specific to your needs.
We’ve given you several ideas for how to continue learning after starting your career. Did we miss anything? Want to give a recommendation for a specific group, book, workshop or something else? Leave a comment below!