Wednesday, 9 October 2013

#ELTchat summary 2nd October 2013 Career Advancement Options for EFL Teachers

Career Advancement Options for EFL Teachers

So- you've been a teacher for a few years and are wondering where the road will take you next......
The participants of Wednesday evening's #ELTchat looked at a variety of options, and discussed the pros and cons of each.

@theteacherjames kick-started the proceedings by asking
' where do you see yourself in 10 years time?'
Most of us really felt that we wanted to be in the same place, doing the same thing- teaching, while others had ideas of making it in other spheres.
It was suggested that we will probably all be involved in a lot more freelancing- not necessarily a good thing! A few were thinking about moving into more mainstream teaching sectors, or there was even talk of  setting up a learning centre with space for colleagues to run courses- a nice dream:-)

But are we talking professional enhancement, moving up the career ladder, or simply more money?

One option is to gain more qualifications. In Israel it seems that an MA can open many doors. Going into academia with a doctorate would allow you to do research, or teach on MA courses. There are always a few niche jobs that you could help to develop in your workplace with the right qualifications: how about a certificate in teaching Young Learners, Exams, or International Business, or Online Teaching? Perhaps you could offer something new to your school.
Some of us had colleagues who did PGCEs  (Post Graduate Certificate of Education) and ended up in the State sector, or International schools- not something which filled everyone with enthusiasm! However the benefits were viewed as being good conditions, nice students, a strong union and decent money, which is not to be sniffed at :-)
However work in academia is not a given, and many of us have known colleagues who have had bad experiences with job security afterwards. But, - Is there job security in any ELT job?

How about becoming the owner of a school?
There was a lot of disagreement on this one. Given the recession, this could be more of a nightmare than a dream, but much depends on the country you are planning to base yourself in.The autonomy of having your own school appealed to one or two, but the fact that you can never switch off, have to be aware that the customer is king, and worry about inspections, led to shudders from the others.

Or Management?
Promotion could easily take teachers out of the classroom. Not only would you lose the camaraderie of the staffroom, but the holiday entitlement might change- and not for the better! As all of the chat participants are passionate about teaching and learning, the opportunity to no longer be in the classroom didn't meet with much favour. @theteacherjames did say that he would like to be in management but continue to teach as well- possibly the best of the options.

So what is the furthest you can realistically go and still keep in touch with the classroom?

Materials writing?
@marjorierosenbe mentioned that all publishers are different and looking for fresh ideas, but @vickyhollet was more cautious.She warned that the writing option was precarious at the moment for both writers and publishers.It was thought that the way materials are commissioned has also changed- today publishers are more likely to spot a gap in the market and employ a team to write, for a fee, rather than an individual approaching them with an idea. There is also the success of self-published material online, or for companies such as The Round. There is a new IATEFL sig on this and MAWsig is on facebook too.

@hartle made me chuckle when she said that teachers are all materials developers on a daily basis anyway,  :-)

Teacher Training?
It works in terms of professional development, but does it pay the bills? @johnarnold joined us and said thatbeing a teacher trainer was more rewarding, but materials writing was more lucrative. Another problem is the scarcity of these jobs. There are a lot of teachers out there looking for something to aspire to. And back to those qualifications we talked about before- in some places you need at least a Diploma, if not an MA to even be considered.

The important thing is to be involved  and not burnt out.Keeping your fingers in several pies was seen as the best option, as it can deliver advancement, satisfaction and money. Professional development in the form of blogging was also viewed as a good way to get your name known, as was attending or presenting at workshops and conferences. This doesn't necessarily equate to more money, though it can bring rewards in the form of prestige.

I leave it to @hartle to finish with  a tongue-in-check comment:
'so what we want is a safe, creative job connected to teaching and didactics rather than management, with a huge salary!'

All pictures taken from #eltpics sets on flickr. CC some rights reserved (most are my own pictures)