2013 1

In the blink of an eye, 2012 has come to an end. But as we busy ourselves with new year's resolutions, it is crucial we look back upon the last 12 months and allow our reflections to inform the year ahead.

What were the resolutions we made at the start of 2012? How have we gone about trying to fulfill them?

What changes have we made in 2012? What new things have we learnt? What do we do now that we didn’t at the beginning of 2012?

Here’s a CPD (Continual Professional Development) checklist I use as a guide to facilitate my reflection. Perhaps you might find it useful too.

2013 2


1. Did I read any books, journal articles or blogposts in 2012?

If the answer is yes,
What were they? Which ones were the most memorable? Why?

If the answer is no,
Why not?
Was it because I was too busy?
How can I encourage myself to at least read an article a month?
Perhaps I could subscribe to a blog, a website or a magazine?

2. Did I read any books, journal articles, or blogposts about a topic I knew nothing about previously?

If the answer is yes,
What have they taught me that was new to me?
How was this new information useful to me?
How has it facilitated a change in the way I do things?

If the answer is no,
Do I find myself seeking out readings that are about familiar fields and topics?
Is it because I believe that books, journal articles and blogposts outside my comfort zone would not be useful to me?
Or am I afraid to challenge myself?
Do I find it comforting to receive small bits of new input embedded within a blanket of familiar knowledge? Why?

3. Did I read any books, journal articles, or blogposts that I strongly disagreed with?

If the answer is yes,
Did I ask myself why I disagreed with them?
Did I open a dialogue with my peers, or even the writers themselves to explore the argument and take the discussion further?
Did this discussion encourage me to truly understand why I believe in what I believe in? Did it force me to justify my beliefs?
How have they facilitated a change within me, and the way I do or see things?

If the answer is no,
Why not?
Do I actively seek out readings and writers that I know I would agree with?
Did I encounter a text that I disagreed with and abandoned it as soon as I realized I disagreed with the writer?
Did reading this piece of text bring up strong emotions within me? Why did I react that way? What issues of my own am I bringing into the discussion?

2013 3


4. Did I observe any lessons in 2012?

If the answer is yes,
What would I steal from those lessons? Was there anything which I could have used in my classes?
What was I not so keen on? Why?
Did I discuss my opinions of what the strengths and weaknesses of the lesson might be with the teacher involved?
Why did the teacher make those choices?

If the answer is no,
Why not?
Is it because I don’t think there is anything I can learn from the other teachers?
Or is it because it is impossible to find time to do so due to timetabling issues?
Could I suggest to the school management an ‘open door’ system where teachers could open their classroom doors to any other teacher that would be keen to come in and observe their lessons, even if only for 10 minutes?
Or could I suggest a system where teachers could go up to other teachers and ask to observe their lessons?

5. Did anyone come in to observe my lessons?

If the answer is yes,
Who came in? Was it a Director of Studies or a peer?
What was the purpose of the observation? Was it to assess your ability? Or was it for professional development?
Was the purpose clear to you from the start?
Did you ask the observer to look out for anything in particular?
Were you given feedback after the observation? If not, why not? Did you ask the observer for feedback?
What did you do with the information given to you in the feedback session?

If the answer is no,
Why not?
Did I actively seek someone out to come and observe me? Did I mention that I would like to be observed?
Am I afraid of being observed? What exactly am I afraid of? What is the worst that could happen?

6. Did I record/video myself teaching so that I can observe myself after?

If the answer is yes,
Did I watch it back more than once so that I could get over the initial embarrassment of watching myself on tape?
What did I learn from the experience?
Did I show anyone else the tape? Why/ Why not?
Do I think other teachers could learn something from watching my tape?

If the answer is no,
Is it because I don’t have the equipment to do so? Many modern smart phones often have video recording features. All I would then need is a tripod, or an observer to hold the equipment (you also do not need to record the entire lesson - 20 minutes could tell you a lot).
Is it because I don’t like watching/hearing myself? Most people don’t. That’s why it’s important to watch the video back a couple of times to get over the initial ‘I don’t like the pitch of my voice and look at my hair sticking out’ nit-picking, and get to the bits that are actually important to professional development. Also, remember you’re not just watching yourself. You are watching the students and noticing the interactions and the reactions that you might have missed whilst you were in the midst of all the action in the classroom.

2013 4

Investing in my development

7. Did I invest (money or time) in my own professional development in 2012?

If the answer is yes,
Did I subscribe to any journals or purchase any books?
Do I belong to any teaching organisations? Did I join any new ones in 2012?

If the answer is no,
Why not?
In an industry where the barriers of entry are so low, how can we expect to stay on top of our game only with a month-long CELTA course?

8. Did I attend any conferences, seminars and teacher development sessions in 2012?

If the answer is yes,
Which ones do I remember?
What did I learn from them?
What have I implemented in my classroom?

If the answer is no,
Is it because I don’t have the time or money?
Have I considered webinars that I could attend from the comfort of my own home in my pyjamas?
There are webinars on different topics held every week. Look out for them on Facebook and Twitter. (Follow @eltknowledge on Twitter for regular updates)
Have I considered asking my organization if they would be interested in (bi-) weekly teacher development sessions given in turn by the teachers for the rest of the teaching staff? These 30-40 minute sessions could take place at lunch time and teachers could be offered an incentive (cash or otherwise) to deliver such sessions.
Have I considered applying to the plethora of conference scholarships available so that conferences are made more affordable and accessible?

2013 5


Sharing what I know, Talking about what I do

9. Did I give a conference talk or deliver a teacher development session in 2012? Did I write a blogpost or a journal article about what I know?

If the answer is yes,
What did I learn from the experience?
Did I ask for feedback from the audience/the readers?
Did I learn anything about my style of presentation/writing?
How can I improve on it in the future?

If the answer is no,
Is it because I feel that I don’t have anything that others can learn from? We all have something unique to share and that just because something is familiar to us in our teaching contexts, it does not mean that it is familiar to others too.

2013 6

The people around me

10. Do I have friends and colleagues around me with whom I can engage in professional discussions and debates with?

If the answer is yes,
Do we simply engage in mutual encouragement and support (which are of course important to our development), but hesitate to challenge or disagree, even if it is only to play devil’s advocate?
Did I meet anyone new in 2012 who shares my passion for teaching and for professional development? Was it someone who could offer a fresh outlook on teaching? Someone who could provoke thoughts?

If the answer is no,
Do I feel frustrated that I have no one I can have a satisfying professional discussion or debate with because my colleagues hate talking about work once working hours are over?

There is a global staffroom of passionate teachers out there who care deeply about their professional development and would welcome teachers keen to join such a virtual community with open arms.
Make use of social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the BESIG Ning, to get in touch with like-minded professionals.
Subscribe to blogs, and comment on posts.
Become a member of teaching organisations near you.

Build up a Personal Learning Network (aka PLN) that could engage you in discussions that your colleagues might shy away from. For in times of doubt and in times of need, the friends that I have made in my PLN are often the ones that act as my voice of reason. They are the ones that send me links to blogposts that are worth reading, encourage me to subscribe to journals and websites that are worth joining, and do not allow me to get complacent.

They make me feel that teaching is not simply a profession, but a passion.

And it certainly is a passion worth sharing.

And with them, I step into the New Year knowing that if there are items on my checklist that I have regretted not fulfilling…with their help and encouragement, I will in 2013. And I hope you will too.

Here’s to continual professional development in the New Year!

2013 7

About English Teaching professional’s regular blogger: 

Chia Suan Chong is a General English and Business English teacher and teacher trainer, with a degree in Communication Studies (Broadcast and Electronic Media) and an MA in Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching from King’s College London. 

A self-confessed conference addict, she spends a lot of her time tweeting (@chiasuan/@ETprofessional), Skyping, and writing. You can find out more about her on her blogsite:http://chiasuanchong.com