What does membership of IATEFL and YLTSIG mean to you? You get the newsletter and the TEYLT Worldwide magazine, you attend the webinars and the annual web conference, you follow our social media channels and monthly blog posts, you stay updated on our global special events, and perhaps get the opportunity to attend our PCE and SIG Showcase at the annual conference. All of these resources and channels are key components of YLTSIG, but there is so much more to get out of your membership through contributions and active participation. Having completed his tenure on the YLTSIG committee, out-going web coordinator David Dodgson offers advice on getting more involved in our SIG.
I first joined IATEFL and YLTSIG back in 2011, looking to grow – both as a teacher and as a member of a professional network. One year later I did not renew. Despite the member only publications and online events, I questioned the value of what was on offer especially at a time when my informal PLN was growing organically through blogging and social media.
However, I should clarify that I asked that question critically – not as a negative statement but as a genuine question that I was willing to reflect on and investigate further. I soon realised that I felt I had got little from my first year as an IATEFL member because that was exactly what I had put in – very little. Come 2014, I was ready to give membership another shot but this time I joined seeking opportunities to actively engage and contribute.
Shortly afterwards, I saw a call for articles for C&Ts (the name of YLTSIG’s publication at the time, older issues of which are available here) from then publications editor and now YLTSIG coordinator David Valente and contacted him with my idea for an article. After an exchange of emails and a few helpful edits, I had one of my first articles in print. I similarly answered a call for webinar presenters and gave a talk on using video games as a resource in the lower secondary language classroom.
I also started to engage more with the SIG’s Facebook group and Twitter account, expanding my own PLN while staying up to date with SIG events and opportunities. Speaking of which, YLTSIG then advertised for a new web coordinator, and the rest, as they say, is digitally archived.
So, if you are wondering, as I did several years ago, how to get the most out of your YLTSIG and IATEFL membership, or you are considering joining, here is my advice on getting involved and making the most of it:
Be an active member
Reiterating my experience as outlined above, this is the most important piece of advice. While the benefits you automatically receive from membership (such as our recently revamped TEYLT Worldwide publication and discounts on SIG events) are numerous, there is much more to be gained from actively contributing to the life of the SIG. With a growing global membership and many more people connected to YLTSIG through our social media channels and open to all events, it is easier than ever to get involved, share best practices, and collaborate in your professional development.
The YLTSIG Blog
As classroom practitioners and TEYLT professionals, we all have ideas and experiences to share, and a great place to start would be right here on this blog! We always welcome practical lesson ideas and stories from early years, primary and secondary classrooms around the world. Even if you are relatively new to teaching and/or haven’t written before, we can all benefit from new ideas and fresh perspectives. The blog offers a great way to connect with fellow teachers, share your ideas, and interact through the comments.
Click here to see our blogging guidelines! https://yltsig.iatefl.org/blog-for-us/
TEYLT Worldwide Publication
If contributing to the blog whets your appetite for writing a full-length article, the next step would be to suggest an article for our members only publication TEYLT Worldwide. This offers a great opportunity to explore your ideas and beliefs about teaching in more detail (I often say that writing an article is equally as beneficial for your professional development as reading one!) You will also get the chance to work with our editors Amanda and Joan to refine your piece and make it even better. Having an article based on your teaching ideas published in the magazine will also make an impressive addition to your CV. ?
See the guidelines for contributors here.
Webinars and the Web Conference
Sharing your ideas in writing is not the only way to go of course. If you prefer more direct contact with an audience or you would simply like to build on your articles, you might consider leading one of our regular webinar sessions or offering a talk at our annual web conference. Again, preparing a webinar gives you an opportunity to reflect on and consolidate your ideas for the mutual benefit of our community. If the prospect of talking live online sounds daunting, it needn’t be. Many speakers actually find they feel less pressure speaking in a webinar as they can lead the session from the familiar surroundings of home or work. The chat stream offers a greater chance for audience participation than a conference room of 100 might. You also don’t need to worry about the technical side as the Adobe Connect room is user-friendly and our team will offer support before and during the talk. Afterwards, your talk will be archived and available for later viewing – another useful and easily accessible piece of evidence of your on-going professional development!
Check out our YouTube channel for an archive of recent talks from our webinar series and the 2018 Web Conference. Also, mark your diaries for this year’s web conference, to be held over three days, 25 – 27 October 2019.
Of course, writing and presenting are not for everyone, or you may wish to take more time before jumping in. The simplest way to be an active contributor to the SIG is to engage through our social media channels. These are not just for announcements and news about the SIG. They are also spaces to interact with other YLTSIG members and the committee. We value input from our members, and this is the quickest and easiest way to connect.
In addition to the YouTube channel, you can find us here:
Facebook Group (for exchanging ideas and crowd sourcing) – https://www.facebook.com/groups/iateflyl/
Facebook Page (for SIG updates and announcements) – https://www.facebook.com/iateflyltsig/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/iatefl_yltsig
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/iateflyltsig/
Volunteers and Suggestions
The above are a few suggestions but there are other ways to get involved. Of course, there are opportunities to represent the SIG through committee openings and we have several face-to-face events through our annual PCE at the IATEFL conference and other global events we are proud to support such as our recent joint conference with TED Atakent in Istanbul: http://elt.ted.org.tr/. We always welcome member input whether it be through attending, sharing links on social media, or volunteering for more hands-on roles.
Even though I am now stepping down from my web coordinator role, I am looking forward to continuing to be involved in YLTSIG as long as I am working with young learners in primary and secondary – and I am looking forward to continuing to interact and develop with you as well.