A Fresh Start on Career Development

Michael Parrish

It is now the beginning of the Japanese academic year, a second new year, of sorts. In that context, I would like to suggest some activities to start developing your career during this second New Year season, especially if you have fallen behind on the New Year’s resolutions made in January. 

Develop new relationships in your workplace and community. These can be small-scale and informal or more organized and formal. Try sharing some of the highlights of any conferences you attended during spring break with colleagues. Or start a reading circle with people in your office or instructors in your area at different institutions. Most of you are already members of JALT; become more active in your local chapter or special interest group (SIG), or volunteer for one of the JALT-related conferences. Consider joining another academic or professional group such as Japan Association of College English Teachers, Google Educators Group, or English Teachers in Japan. Some groups charge a membership fee, many are free.

This can also be a good time to reflect on your teaching and professional development. What did you do well in the classroom? How can you improve? In what areas did your CV improve? What can you do to add to it? Compare your reflections with colleagues and offer peer support on your teaching or your CV. Ask someone to observe your classes (or a video of the class) and provide feedback (offer to return the favour). April is a good time to start thinking about whether furthering your education would be beneficial, you have time to investigate and apply to programs which begin in the fall (or even the following spring). 

Some of this reflection and collaboration can be turned into research and publication opportunities, the next set of goals. You could write up one of your more effective lessons as a ‘My Share’ style article (in TLT or another similar journal). Action research on how you teach is a part of reflective teaching, results may even be suitable for publication. If you have noticed a linguistic puzzle in your classroom that warrants further investigation (for example, Why do many of my students say, “What do you like, sports?”), design a study to investigate it. If you have read an interesting book over the break, or attended an engaging conference, why not write a review for TLT, OnCue or a SIG-sponsored publication? New memberships may offer additional opportunities for presenting and publishing. 

Before trying to implement any of the ideas or goals outlined above, it is important to keep in mind the mnemonic of SMART goals. To ensure success, your career goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (Miller, 2012). 

Note: TLT is changing and we would like to get feedback from you. If you have any suggestions for how this column could be made more relevant and useful, or if you have an idea for a topic, please contact me at: jic.coordinator@gmail.com.



Miller, R. (2012). Smart goals and goal setting for career enhancement. The Language Teacher, 36(4). Retrieved from <http://jalt-publications.org/tlt/departments/job-info-centre/articles/16...