Teacher Development 2.0 (by Steven Herder)

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.

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:

MASH Collaboration Online Study Group

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.

4 Muskateers


MASH Collaboration
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.

Chuck Sandy and Steven Herder


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 Curtis Kelly

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.

Theron Muller and Scott Thornbury

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.

Barb Sakamoto and Steven Herder


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.

Smiles support learning

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.


Steven Herder
Program Director, Founder, iTDi

Note: This article by Steven Herder originally appeared on Teaching Village, and is licensed under a Creative Commons, Attribution-Non Commercial, No Derivatives 3.0 License. If you wish to share it you must re-publish it “as is”, and retain any credits, acknowledgements, and hyperlinks within it.


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32 Responses

  1. Barbara says:

    Thanks for letting me be part of this amazing adventure.

    If I were to create a list of the ELT people I would most like to learn from and work with, it would look a lot like this!

    I can’t stop smiling 🙂

    • Thanks for all your positive energy, Barb. Yes, we’re smiling, too. Lots and lots of work ahead, but a truly fine team… and we’re just up and running!

      We hope to hear from people who want to join us in this great adventure.


  2. Sandy Millin says:

    This sounds like a fascinating idea. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it develops.

    • Hi Sandy,

      Thanks. Yep, everyone says the people, the idea, and the timing are all in our favor.

      I’ve been following you ever since seeing your wise and thoughtful comments on ELTChat. I hope we get to know one another more… and soon.


  3. Jason Peppard says:

    Wow Steve! This looks great!

    • Steven Herder says:

      Cheers, Jason. I hope you’ll get involved or keep following us. Lots of fun stuff coming up.


  4. This is such an exciting project! It certainly proves the opening statement: “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.”
    When you talk about English for teachers, teachers from what background do you have in mind? I know a large part of the teachers in my PLN teach at language schools. Have you had any interest from “regular” school teachers? How about special education teachers?
    I would be glad to help if and when there is an interest in teaching English to learners with special – needs!

    • Steven Herder says:

      Hi Naomi,

      Thanks for your enthusiastic post. Our English for Teachers program is being headed up by Chuck Sandy and co-written by Barbara and Kate Cory-Wright.

      They are writing it for teachers around the world whose first language is not English, who want to improve their English ability while exploring the fascinating world of teaching and learning.

      I hope you’ll consider getting involved with us.


  5. Colin Skeates says:

    So this is one of the projects you have been working on lately. Looks interesting. As always I will be the lurker who reads and rears his ugly head from time to time. I look forward to seeing how this develops.

    Congratulations. Looks impressive.

    • Cheers Colin,

      I always appreciate whenever you “rear your ugly head”. You’ve always got something valuable to add to the conversation.

      If you’d like to see our investment package, let me know.

      When will I see you next? I’ll be at Nakasendo in a few weeks if you’re around. Cheers, bro.


  6. sugarjo says:

    What great link to wake up to on a Saturday morning! You have me smiling too, thinking of all the possibilities for professional development with a crew of such dynamic, enthusiastic, experienced, writers/teachers/generally brilliant people involved with this project. Congratulations to all involved and I hope the journey is all smooth sailing from here on in (the sound of a magnum of champagne smashing).

    Thank you for the continued inspiration iTDi.


    • Morning sugar,

      Tit for tat. Your cheery Saturday morning message had me smiling (bleary-eyed but excited). I hope you’re willing to be dragged into this at some level. You and I are on the same page as far as TD goes, and I’d love to have you on our team as things develop.

      Enjoy the sunshine,


  7. Chuck Sandy says:

    Thanks so much for your enthusiasm about our collaborative project, Naomi. I love that line from Steven, too, and quote it often along with this one: “Anything I can do we can do better” which is absolutely true. In that spirit, we’re reaching out to people who can teach us about their areas of expertise as they develop materials for the iTDi programs, and you’re already someone who’s come to mind for helping us with materials for teachers of English to students with special needs. This is such a huge area that I don’t think it could be adequately addressed in an EFT lesson, though, so I’m wondering if a series of lessons for the TD program might be better. I’m thinking way ahead here, but want you to know that our aim is to be as inclusive as possible and that we live by those words about collaboration which Steven’s shared. Let’s connect and talk sometime soon. – Chuck

    • Thanks for jumping into the conversation, Chuck. I hope you got a little sleep after a late evening of answering Twitter DMs and RTs about the launch of iTDi. Working hard on a good idea is always satisfying no matter how tired we get, huh!

      Talk to you soon,


      • Chuck Sandy says:

        Hi Steven – What I love about this conversation is that it’s ongoing and in some ways feels like the conversation we’ve been having for years. What’s so exciting now is that so many others are joining in, with each new voice adding another color and a new perspective. Though I could have slept a little more, I was excited to get up this morning and get on with the work. You’re certainly right: working hard on a good idea (with great people) is very satisfying. I’m not quite ready to give up coffee yet, but this collaboration along with the new buzz in the air gave me more of a happy jolt than my double expresso this morning ^^ – Chuck

  8. Steven Nishida says:

    Many congrats on the launch, ladies and gents. Innumerable ideas and hours of discussion coming to fruition, no doubt.

    As always, don’t hesitate to let me know how I might assist from the periphery.

    Steve N

    • Cheers, Steven,

      As always, I’ll be looking for your wisdom and guidance whenever we are lucky enough to connect

      Also, if you can keep it in mind that we are looking for similarly-minded teachers as investors and pass that along, I’d appreciate it. We’ve spent a long time planning and we’ve figured out some really cool ideas to make iTDi a good investment of time and money.

      I’ll send you the investor’s package as well.

      Cheers, my friend.

  9. Mark Kulek says:

    Wow! What a group of inspiring educators. Who wouldn’t want to be involved?

    Well done Steven.

    Mark in Gifu

    • Thanks, Mark. We’re looking forward to building something special.

      At the moment, we’re looking for teachers who want to join us as investors, supporters or writers. Let me know if you’d like to consider getting more involved.

      See you soon, I hope.


  10. Chiew Pang says:

    Wow! This sounds so huge! Like so many others, I’ll be anxiously waiting to see how it evolves.

  11. Hi Chiew,

    Thanks for the comment. I just watched the interview with Scott on your blog: https://iasku.wordpress.com/2011/06/08/scott-thornbury/

    Good job! I learned new things about Scott.

    Scott, Adrian Doff and I are writing materials now for iTDi and he is certainly a great guy to work with. I hope you’ll join our community of teachers as we get closer to the real launch in September.



  12. Chiew says:

    Steve, I asked Barb to ask you, but since I happen to see you here, I might as well ask you directly: Would you like to be interviewed, too? Would be a thrill to speak to you and give more plugging to iTDi! Email me please: acliltoclimb@gmail.com

    • Dear Chiew,

      Thanks for your kind offer. I’d be happy to do an interview with you. I’d like to interview you as well to find out more about you!

      Looking through the rest of your blog, I really liked to hear that you were looking for a new challenge and just went out and did it! Certainly, having Scott as your first interview was a great way to start. Congratulations, and keep up the good work.

  13. Syke A.K. says:

    Thanks for inviting me to know about your exuberant programme..iTDi
    I am honored to be a part of a great venture

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