I’ve always believed in the power of people to be able to come together to create something much bigger than any one of them individually. Here is a story about a bunch of teachers (myself and Barbara included) who are coming together to create something new called The International Teacher Development Institute (iTDi).
What is iTDi?
ITDi will be an online portal offering professional development opportunities for the full range of teachers from beginners who want to get off on the right foot, to veterans who want to reconsider or re-energize their approach in the classroom. Initially, two courses are being offered: Teacher Development (TD) and English for Teachers (EFT).
Who can join us?
Well, we need more writers, investors and supporters. With the size of our goals and the demand for professional development from teachers literally around the globe, we’ll always have room for more passionate educators to join us. For more information, please contact us through the iTDi website.
How did iTDi begin?
As the era of Collaboration 2.0 has now clearly arrived, just about anything is possible these days and almost everything is attainable for people with good ideas and the drive or determination to make them happen. As the world continues to get smaller, I now regularly have Skype meetings with people living on 3 or 4 different continents. The seeds for this kind of synergy began for me personally about 5 years ago.
MA TEFL/TESL Studies
I enrolled in what I worried might be a notoriously lonely, distance-learning Masters program and almost before my eyes, it morphed into a dynamic weekly online study group with colleagues who were eager to exploit the online tools that were suddenly at hand:
Back in 2006, we used a new thing called Skype, discussion forums, and then Google Documents to study together. We debated and defended our opinions about teaching and learning; we often laughed together and sometimes whined to each other; and we shared the small victories and listened intently during the stressful times; it offered all kinds of growth throughout a busy but meaningful 3-year period. In doing so, we also learned more than we could ever have imagined and built up enough trust to know that we’ll be friends and colleagues working on projects together forever.
With the end of the MA TEFL, I wanted to continue collaborating and used the MASH Collaboration umbrella to embark on a number of new challenges with both old friends and new colleagues Theron Muller, Philip Shigeo Brown, Mark de Boer and Gregory Sholdt, and we produced eight one-day professional development seminars, embarked on two book projects and created a full 4-day conference “Equinox” featuring world-class presenters Scott Thornbury and Paul Nation. In the past 3 years, we have been able to reach out to many other passionate like-minded ELT professionals including Curtis Kelly, Marc Helgesen, Tim Murphey, Chuck Sandy, Marcos Benevides, Andy Boon, Steve Brown, Steven Nishida, Ann Mayeda, Alastair Graham-Marr, Joe Siegel, Colin Skeates, Jason Peppard, Kishiko Nashimoto, Joanne Sato, Andy Lawson and another 100 or so presenters and regular attendees of MASH events.
The seeds for iTDi
Then came a late-night Skype call that was to up the stakes and change the way I would be spending all of my free time for the foreseeable future.
Chuck Sandy and I were talking about what he might do for the 7000 teachers on the Facebook page that he shared with Curtis Kelly (Over 8500 now). There were educators from around the world gathering together online – looking for a friendly forum to share ideas, a community to connect with like-minded teachers, and ongoing opportunities to improve themselves professionally. As more teachers continued to join the page, Chuck felt a growing and pressing need to offer them something more tangible.
On a quest for a good idea, Chuck began to do what he does best: reaching out and talking to others who might see the potential in helping teachers to empower themselves. Everyone he talked to agreed that there was a need and a market for some kind of online teacher development program, but it wasn’t until Chuck spoke to Gareth Knight and I spoke with Scott Thornbury that we finally had the core set of people with the right synergy to change this great idea into something concrete: The International Teacher Development Institute (iTDi).
ITDi Teacher Development (TD) Course
Scott Thornbury, Adrian Doff and I are pooling our considerable writing and teaching experience to write the TD course with over 100 lessons offered within 24 different modules. Our focus is entirely on providing practical ideas that any teacher can use, and helping teachers to identify and solidify their own beliefs about teaching and learning.
English for Teachers (EFT) Course
For the EFT course, Chuck Sandy, Kate Cory-Wright and Barbara Hoskins Sakamoto have formed an inspiring team, bringing their unique teacher-training voices and well-known ability to communicate with people globally, to offer an English language course built around the one topic that all teachers are interested in: teaching and learning.
The rest of our growing team
ITDi has brought together a growing team of movers and shakers; authors, teacher trainers and pioneers in the ELT world, all under the leadership of our Managing Director, Gareth Knight. Gareth had 15 years experience with Cambridge University Press and immediately knew how to make iTDi a viable and sustainable business venture.
The strength of this new venture is built upon people first: technology second. We are a company created by teachers that will grow with the support and energy of teachers. We decided to build and finance this venture through our teaching peers, and likewise, we will share the profits and future opportunities of the business with our teacher colleagues. In addition to the core writing and management team above, iTDi has a growing list of authors, contributors, advisors and investors, including: John Fanselow, Paul Nation, Theron Muller, David O’Callaghan, Marcos Benevides, Mark de Boer, Neil. J. Anderson, Adrian Doff, Curtis Kelly, Philip Shigeo Brown, Todd Rucynski, and Mike Welch.
For many of us, this project is a culmination of the many years of experience that we have gained on the front lines of teaching in our EFL context. Not only do we have a chance to create something meaningful and important, but also, you have the chance to be a part of that experience with us.