commentary

These posts contain links to and commentary about aspects of the language teaching industry.

Who do you think you are?

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Looking into teacher identity

Who are you? Tyson Seburn. Scorpio? Tiger? Philosophy major? I used to think so. TESL Toronto President? Conference organiser? Writer? Grad student? I was once. Canadian? Author? EAP instructor? TDSIG peep? Yes, this guy exists.

What is your teaching philosophy? Ugggh. That one’s the worst.

I’ve questioned my identity a lot, but here let’s focus on career. We all probably do when push comes to shove. I often garble out something about EAP and guided discovery and teacher development, but do I make sense? I often stare at the wording of my bio when submitting one for a conference proposal. What do I focus on? What description most accurately portrays how I see myself? How do I want others to see me? In 50 words or less. See my LinkedIn profile for one version; my about me page here for another; even the little bits of my email signature. I’m never fully satisfied with them, however.

Teacher identity is an ever-present interest insofar as it’s difficult to concretise and continues to shift. Once you feel you’ve figured it out, it gets called into question again. In a way, I like that.Read More »Who do you think you are?

A love letter to teacher associations

I’ve rewritten a love letter of sorts to TESL Toronto (a teacher association committee I’m leaving after 6 years) three times from three different angles and voices. There’s much I want to say to different groups involved, but no one focus conveys my intentions vividly enough. I think it’s because no matter what words I use or perspective I take, it doesn’t capture that magnitude of its impact. It’s been a love/hate relationship with the stakeholders of TESL Toronto, mostly love for my colleagues, the membership itself, and the work I’ve been involved in. The effect of being its president and chairing TOSCON for 3 years that it has had cannot be understated–roles, or the likes of which, I’d highly recommend any teacher eventually seek in some capacity during their careers.Read More »A love letter to teacher associations

Year-end teacher development & feedback activities

For many of us, the academic year has come or is coming to a close and with that the busyness of wrapping up meetings, grading, and making difficult decisions. Yet amidst this organised chaos, uniting a course’s team of teachers for professional development and curriculum debrief best happens here while the year is fresh in our minds. This, however, can be challenging at this draining time of year. So how does a team leader create space for agency in these two areas without crossing into chore-like territory?Read More »Year-end teacher development & feedback activities

my (little) reflective journey today

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For me, the end of a calendar year and the beginning of the next comes a distant second to the beginning and ends of academic years in opportunity for reflection and goal-setting. I may be in the minority that way, but a different type of reflection organically comes then: one of classroom-based pedagogy. Having said this, with some lovely time off from work, I intend to do some broader humanistic reflection and goal-setting also, the first foray of which has transformed into a little experiment I’m going to do as I write.Read More »my (little) reflective journey today

My not-so-ELT podcast playlist… #nerd

Last fall, I was walking through Cabbagetown with Lou towards Riverdale Park West, a wide open space with four baseball diamonds where people not only play ball, but also cricket, do yoga, have picnics, and let their dogs run off-leash freely and quickly. I’d come there weekly for some time, walking the perimeter three or four times with Lou tagging behind me, stopping every so often to smell the grass or roll around in it and then run to catch up. It was an OK time to be with my thoughts, but it was also a little boring. One day in October would change my attitude toward these walks forever (and inspire a few ELT podcast dreams: one always has ‘teacher eyes/ears’ on after all. #nerd). Read More »My not-so-ELT podcast playlist… #nerd

IATEFL bite-sized sessions notes

I took photos of slides. I tweeted. I gave up and simply listened intensely. I typed up notes on my laptop. I switched to my iPad or phone. I sat in the back. I sat in the front row. I sat near the wall. I participated with others. I avoided participating. IATEFL sessions ran the gamut of circumstances for me. My takeaways from them, likewise, aren’t necessarily the intended point by the presenter, but what spoke to me.Read More »IATEFL bite-sized sessions notes

IATEFL bite-sized takeaways

IATEFL: yes, that massive collection of language teaching industry talks and professionals from across the globe, just concluded last Tuesday after five days of awesomeness. If you weren’t able to attend, there’s no realistic chance of replicating almost any part of it for you. Sorry. Believe me, this was my first time in person and while the streaming videos and live tweets were great in previous years, they do not compare to the live experience. The IATEFL bug has bitten.Read More »IATEFL bite-sized takeaways