On Leaving

sanjeevan-satheeskumar-318143-unsplashPhoto by Sanjeevan SatheesKumar on Unsplash

The position was meant to be something new to try out, to add some freshness into my PD experience. Fast forward three years, and the job of Twitter Manager for TESL Ontario is much more than that and still interests me. Why am I leaving?

It has been a challenging couple of years, and the reason I need to leave was inspired by this position, interestingly. When I began tweeting for TESL Ontario, I had not yet  begun my Masters journey (for the second time). The interesting group of people I discovered online led me to explore a different kind of professional development. I’m becoming curiouser and curiouser about the seasoned language teacher and their professional development, centred on motivation and the use of technology, which has lead me to embark on a PhD. And I have recently noticed that I do not have the energy or the time to devote to this position anymore, not in the way I would like to.

The communication and interaction which take place on Twitter have rewarded me in ways face to face professional development and relationships never could. Teachers are on this platform because we want to be here to make connections and learn; we figured out how to use it despite the lack of intuitive threading, retweeting, subtweeting, citing, and hashtagging.

Some unexpected benefits of my having taken on this position include:

Meaningful connections: I have had the pleasure to work with fellow social media platform managers, past and present: @mrpottz @JessicaKWebster @Jess_icaBrown @teslchick @TamsinCobb @SumaBalagopal on the Social Content Committee. Their insight about TESL Ontario’s membership needs is impressive. Lynn Doherty and @AllieMama75 have been super chairs and members who have exhibited unrelenting support and encouraged the team’s ideas, work, concerns, and needs. Our virtual and face to face collaborations have resulted in some meaningful initiatives that were important to the membership, if not always visible.

I am now lucky to have people such as @jenartan @Francine_Bee and @NancyVanDorp as soundboards, collaborators, and friends as a direct result of this job. But that is just scratching the surface.

I had an idea of what this job would entail. Things I was prepared for:

  • Coming up with a strategy to gain more followers;
  • creating a list of TESL Ontario members on Twitter to promote;
  • focusing on issues that I believed were relevant for the TESL Ontario membership; and
  • sharing information with and from TESL affiliates.

I thought my job was to be invisible and represent TESL Ontario as their official voice. I wasn’t prepared to be challenged on my approach.

Tyson - light

So I came out:

IMG_0162Suddenly, my position changed. I was working for and with the membership, not the organization, to exchange ideas and posts that might be of interest to others. I purposely reached out to engage with individuals and have public exchanges under the @TESLOntario handle as me. What I accomplished  would not have been possible had I remained invisible:

  • Increased the number of followers – we are now at 2779 followers (YMMV depending on the day you read this post);
  • Participated in Twitter chats, especially #LINCchat;
  • Consciously overused GIFs to the annoyance of some because that’s who I am;
  • Brought my own brand of humour and enthusiasm to the position;
  • Connected and supported provincial associations in Canada;
  • Made a point of promoting open access journals, especially homegrown;
  • Tweeted about causes I think are important: equity in TEFL, mental health, UDL, technology, learner autonomy; and
  • Created and delivered a series of 3 webinars for TESL Ontario about how to use Twitter.

I am grateful for the opportunities this volunteer position has provided me and it is my genuine wish that my successor has as many achievements as I have, and makes this position uniquely theirs. Thank you for having me for three years.




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