TESOL and the Tortoise: 2021 Webinar Series
Regardless of race, gender, and age, teachers wear different hats to invariably supervise and provide their students’ needs. It is a fact that around the globe teachers care for their students. But the big question is, who cares for our dear teachers? Yes, we need a platform where all teachers will also feel valued and supported, especially during this difficult time.
Thanks to TESOL Career Path Development Professional Learning Network (CPD PLN), an international association that advocates English language teacher empowerment. They became the teachers’ voice and fortress. As a matter of fact, last 17th of April 2021 (Saturday), they were able to successfully put forward an event that imparted exactly what the teachers need now more than ever – an inspiration and affirmation.
TESOL CPD was established by a well-known virtuoso of language teaching - Dr. Liz England. Being a woman of accolades who relentlessly proves her generosity and dedication to her chosen career, she truly epitomizes “Career Path Development.” She continuously hones her craft and inspires others through her generous service. Her latest book titled “TESOL Career Path Development: Creating Professional Success” talked about this to its very core.
Thus, I am absolutely certain that the other webinar attendees also felt her sincere and humble heart as she acknowledged the team's hard work. For instance, she impeccably transitioned the segment to the cheerful and organized tech leader/moderator, Ms. Lynne Rankin Clark. Further, she recognized Ms. Zeynab Moosavi’s creative works on the TESOL Zoom background and poster.
Indeed, kindness speaks volume and attracts people. Hence, this fifth TESOL CPD webinar series was a powerhouse. As Dr. Liz said, it was attended by participants from five continents and seven affiliate leaders all over the world. Some of the participants that I was able to keep track were from Thailand, Indonesia, India, Saudi Arabia, China, Japan, Pakistan, Australia, some States in America, and from my country - the Philippines. Remarkably, Dr. Diane Larsen-Freeman graced us with her lovely presence, too. It was such an honor to be in the same virtual room with the prolific writer, first-rate scholar, and Professor Emerita in Education and Linguistics at the University of Michigan and SIT Graduate Institute all rolled into one.
Despite the big names and colossal crowd of 100 virtual attendees, the organizers were able to break the ice and get on like a house on fire. Every attendee would immediately feel the welcoming vibe of the TESOL CPD PLN leaders because of their lovely smiles and genial tone. In fact, while we were waiting for the time to strike at 9 am, we were invited to type our name and country of origin on the chat box. Also, we were encouraged to turn on our video to be a little familiar with each other. With this simple way of getting to know each other, the virtual barrier became translucent and it ignited the enthusiasm to listen to the man of the hour.
Tortoise is an auspicious animal that symbolizes wisdom and knowledge. Dr. Willy Renandya is akin to a tortoise. Pak Willy, as fondly called by many, is a man with incredible wealth of experience yet down to earth.
Although he is a frequent speaker in our university (De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines), I still attended his talk because he always offers something new, exciting, and inspiring to his audience. True enough, he once again reckoned quality over quantity by discussing his topic in a little more than 30 minutes. This gave way to a more realistic time for the Q & A and a deep reflection after the webinar was over.
It has been a week now since his presentation, yet his words of wisdom still linger in my mind and create warm feeling in my heart. I am pretty sure it also generated the same effect to everyone who listened to him. Ergo, I am hoping that this short narrative that I learned from him can help spread the beauty of being a teacher, a researcher, and a consultant.
Observing a deductive flow of discussion, Pak Willy straight away gave the takeaway – the need for the teachers to strengthen their academic impacts and deliberately demonstrate these to the right stakeholders. Moreover, he showed his outline consisting of the definition, types, and tips for building academic impact. To discuss this, he conscientiously dissected practical ways on how teaching, research, and service can create impact locally, nationally, and internationally. This rule of three in presenting ideas made his talk simple, clear, and feasible. Therefore, it can be condensed in one single illustration as shown below.
An academic impact refers to the positive influence or lasting effect of our work to an individual, an institution, or the world. Needless to say, we should contribute something that is meaningful and sustainable. As Pak Willy suggested, we can gradually work on self-improvement by seeking feedback from our senior colleagues, being strategic in demonstrating impact, expanding network of friends, providing free workshop, among many others.
Further, he postulated investing in one particular field and be expert on it. It can be writing a short non-empirical paper or a long empirical study. It doesn’t matter. What matter is to be able to find and thrive in one’s niche and to be happy about it. It can be being a research-oriented educator or a teaching-oriented academician. Above all, we can further enhance our impact if we remain humble – learn, relearn, and unlearn things when needed.
Indeed, his talk was heartwarming as it reminded us that we are all a work in progress. Thereby, he affirmed our uniqueness and strengths by sharing his three axioms:
1. Do things that are meaningful to you. And hope it is also meaningful to people around you.
2. Don’t wait for people to approach you. You can also actively offer your services to people in the field.
3. Be the best that you can ever be! Do not imitate other people. Identify your passion.
On that note, Pak Willy has definitely left a lasting impact to all of us for touching a deeper and more profound topic of respecting individuality.
As Henry Adams once said, “a teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” Certainly, with immense knowledge and experience we acquire everyday, we have numerous ways to share it to the world. We can teach it to our students, present a research study in a conference, give a free seminar to other teachers, or write a book about it. After all, the more we give, the more we receive. So, keep the ball rolling and pay it forward!
Altogether, for me, attending this program was like listening to music that soothes my soul and boosts my well-being. Surely, this was incredibly a perfect weekend vibe! Because from the beginning until the end of the one-hour international webinar, we were assured of our important contributions in the society (be it small or big – locally, nationally, or internationally). Thanks TESOL CPD and Dr. Willy Renandya for transforming a part of this pandemic to something beautiful and inspiring.
More power and may your tribe increase!
England, L. (2019). TESOL Career Path Development: Creating professional success (1st ed.). Routledge.
Renandya, W.A. (2021). How to enhance your teaching, research and service impact. Keynote speech delivered at the Webinar hosted by TESOL Career Path Teacher Development Network, 17 April 2021.
TESOL Career Path Development PLN. (2021, April 18). Dr Willy Renandya: How to enhance your teaching, research, and service impact [Video File]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9vLGQ0cQVk