After reading around the ELT (English Language Teaching) blogosphere quite a bit this week, and dealing with some pretty fiery discussions right here on my own blog (!), it occurred to me how little representation there appears to be for new and beginning teachers of English. There is plenty of banter among the so-called experts and VIPs, as well as veteran bloggers and tweeters (and this is all tremendously useful and interesting stuff, of course!), but where are the blogs and comments and tweets from new teachers, or teachers in training?
I don't think it's a matter of new teachers not being online, or not knowing how to look about for places to share information and impressions. I forced myself to think back to how I felt as a new teacher in the profession, and I have to admit - especially with organisations like IATEFL (one, not the only, example) - while I found a lot of places to get information and meet other English teachers, they weren't necessarily places that went out of their way to welcome me as a newbie, and - well - it was actually quite intimidating to be suddenly thrust among so many highly experienced and expert people! I understood very little of what they were going on about and there was a distinct feeling of intruding on an "in crowd" of friends. Don't get me wrong - very nice people, more than willing to be helpful if you asked, but... it can be hard to ask for help when you feel like a potential dummy or an intruder in what is apparently a close circle of aquaintances. In a lot of ways, you want people to ask YOU what you're wondering about, to show an interest in you and how you're feeling about your new profession.
Looking around the blogosphere and on Twitter, I get the feeling new teachers of English may be experiencing similar feelings and impressions. I think that is a bit of a pity, and not necessarily because I think these new teachers need support and guidance (which of course they often do). They are the future of the profession, and, in my experience, new teachers always bring so many fresh ideas and perspectives that help to shake me out of a potential ivory tower before I go up too many steps!
Based on all that, I'd like to offer a very friendly welcome to new teachers of English as a Foreign Language, wherever you may be in the world, and let you know that I AM interested in hearing about your experiences, trials, tribulations, and impressions! Not because I think you need my charity or my expertise, or a fake-sounding and quickly passing welcome to the profession, but because I actually get a tremendous amount out of hearing from and talking to you about this funny old thing called TEFL. Your first weeks or months or even years of teaching English are just as meaningful and important (if not more so, in many ways) as the grizzled old veteran teaching days that will eventually follow.
If you'll forgive me this small selfishness, perhaps you'll pop in here to say hello and pass on what it's like these days to start out in the English teaching profession... I'd love to hear from you!