For many being a SIG officer is something unfamiliar—What do they do? How did they become an officer? Why are they spending their time doing what they do? In this column we explore the stories of three SIG officers in order to discover how getting more involved with JALT as a SIG officer impacted their lives. Most SIGs are looking to expand their teams, so if you have an interest in a specific group do not hesitate to reach out to them to find out how you can join their community. To see the list of SIGs and find out how to contact them, visit https://jalt.org/main/groups
Expanding My Network and Gaining Leadership and Event Organizing Skills
JALTCALL Publicity Co-Chair and Program Co-Chair
I started reading TLT many years ago and presented at JALT 2011, but didn’t feel like I was part of the JALT community until I became involved with the CALL SIG. Going to JALTCALL 2015 was a real turning point. I attended lots of thought-provoking sessions and was encouraged by the interest and support my own presentation received. During that weekend, I talked with dozens of people and some of the volunteers told me more about the SIG. They suggested I become a “member-at-large”, a position for people who want to volunteer but don’t want a heavy, time-consuming role. I was working full-time, doing my PhD, and raising a young child at the time so it was the perfect way in. When I became part of the JALTCALL team, I helped with various jobs related to the annual conference. The following year, I became the SIG’s Publicity Officer and have been doing it for four years now. At our Annual General Meeting this June, the SIG’s Program Chair, Erin Noxon, and I suggested we share our roles and we were elected as co-chairs for these two positions. During my time in JALTCALL, I have had the chance to expand upon my professional network, build friendships with other educators, learn more about EdTech, and gain valuable leadership and event organising skills. I was on JALT’s Board of Directors from November 2016 to December 2018 and would never have taken on that challenge without the experiences I had in JALTCALL. When I look back to 2015, I am very thankful I took the leap and got involved. If you think you want to be involved in JALTCALL but don’t know where to begin, reach out for a chat and I’d be happy to tell you more!
Understanding the Publication Process More Deeply
CUE SIG Publications Chair
I have been the Publications Chair for the CUE SIG for 10 years. Granted, that is longer than anyone previously—I can safely say that it didn’t take long to see the benefits. I got involved with CUE gradually, first as a proofreader, then as a conference review editor. The first obvious benefit of being an officer is putting it on university promotion documentation as a “social contribution”. Second, officers have their own group communication network which provides insight into how things are run. That includes other officer roles and SIG policies, but also event planning and in my case the operations of CUE publications. Third, some publications officers are not editors, but I am, and that role has given me a lot of contact with reviewers, proofreaders, assistant editors, layout managers, and publications chairs/editors from other SIGs. I’ve learned how each position works individually and collectively. Opinions with the aforementioned people and SIG officers are shared, information exchanged, and friendships formed all because people are forced to work together. Officers with CUE take part in pre-conference dinners that often include keynote speakers, so that sort of casual mingling, sometimes with notable presenters, adds a special flavor to the networking. Lastly, in my specific role as editor for the OnCUE Journal, I’ve learned how to serve the SIG community better with changes to the journal, creation of new publications, presentations on how to write, formation and operation of SIG grants, organizing conferences and workshops (which later could produce published articles), and design & content of the SIG website. Success in any SIG officer role depends on how much you put into it, and I think it’s fair to say I’ve put in quite a bit!
Finding the Bright Spot in a Supportive Academic Professional Community
Jennie Roloff Rothman
GILE SIG Coordinator
GILE SIG was what drew me into JALT in 2005 when I participated in their SIG Forum at JALT’s annual conference. At the time, I was an eager, excited graduate student who had not yet stepped foot into the professional academic community. I obviously liked what I saw, because now, fifteen years later, I’ve consistently been either a presenter in this forum or an officer in the SIG. Most of my experience as an officer has been as the Program chair, whose primary job is to organize the forum in November and, if we participate in PanSIG, one there as well. My loyalty to the GILE SIG and its members runs deep. It is such a wonderful, supportive group of people and I look forward to the forum and meeting global educators sharing ideas each time it is held. It leaves me feeling energized and optimistic about the field because I know there are great people out there doing great work. I’m lucky to be able to have a part in helping them come together each year. For fifteen years, membership in GILE has been the bright spot of all my JALT activities.
Being an officer has been a learning experience for me in terms of leadership development and helping me understand the inner workings of JALT. I learned so much by listening to other officers’ experiences and perspectives. As an officer, I try to provide the support and encouragement to other GILE members that I received at the start, and continue to receive. At the core of GILE’s philosophy is sharing ideas, learning from each other, and providing encouragement and support to make the world and language education better. GILE SIG has shown me what a good supportive academic professional community looks like and how it can function simply and successfully. I hope to remain active as an officer and keep learning and giving back in the years to come.