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  • Karin Heuert Galvão

Professional Development and The New Normal

2020 has been a bitch. There, I said it.

I'm sure you have thought about it, but you haven't said it out loud either because you are too shy, and you might feel embarrassed or afraid to say it on social media for everyone to see, or you have held really tight to the positive vibes mantra. Either way, it has been a bitch. There, I said it again.

As a teacher, I have always been very proud of my planning and for having everything organized at least three months prior to a new year. I knew exactly what I was supposed to do, and when I was supposed to do it. My classes were yearly planned, and my moments of professional development and vacation as well. Then came 2020 and told me: "Not so fast."

When we first started quarantine, I had to reorganize all of my classes - 98% of my lessons had been online already; however, many students are from corporate and had to change their work schedules during the first months. I had to rearrange - pretty much - everything. I also had to reorganize my family time since my son was no longer able to attend presential classes. I also had to restrategize my professional development, and this was, to my mind, one of the hardest things.

Starting March, I was supposed to attend a Business English conference in Buenos Aires, which, of course, was canceled. In April, I was supposed to participate in and present at the IATEFL Conference in the UK, and obviously, it was canceled. In May, I was supposed to have a much-deserved vacation with my family, and indeed, it was canceled. These are just some of the things that I had to accept and move on.

Thankfully, many institutions and professionals made a considerable effort to support teachers and allow us to keep developing professionally. On the one hand, it was fantastic having so many opportunities: webinars, free courses, free books, free tools, etc., on the other hand, the avalanche of possibilities has overwhelmed us with choices, and now we just do not know where to go and what to do.

Unsurprisingly, teachers have been running around like headless chickens, since they need to cope with their new routines at home with their families, their overload of working hours, and the handling of new technologies. The fact that they must develop themselves professionally because this is the time, right? Everything is for free, so why not?

It is probably true to say that nothing comes out from an empty vessel, and teachers who are burning the candle at both ends are just not the perfect specimen to focus on professional development. Taking time to focus on yourself is not a selfish act; it is quite the opposite. By allowing yourself to "take 5", you will be able to reevaluate, restrategize, and relearn about yourself, and maybe, just maybe, you just do not need the "free stuff," and that's OK.

Things will never be the same, WE will never be the same, but as 2020 came and told me: Not.



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