Let me start my farewell message with a few lines from Tennyson’s “Ulysses”:
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch where through
Gleams that untraveled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
Yes, I have met TESL and it will forever be a part of me. Or, as Horace puts it in his “Exegi monumentum” —
Quod non imber edax, non aquilo impotens
Possit dirruere aut innumerabilis
Annorum series et fuga temporum.
[… something which neither the voracious rain,
nor wild Aquilo is able to destroy,
nor the countless series of years and flight of ages.]
President no longer, but having been part of the board will forever be a part of me.
This year’s annual conference has just been concluded. It was packed with varied presentations, workshops, book draws, food and drinks, and the contributions of two super plenary speakers. Thanks to the many who, braving bad weather and sacrificing their precious weekend, attended the two-days’ conference.
I am happy to let those who could not attend know that our membership has been increasing steadily. Ergo, two new positions on the board have been created to help with the administration of the affairs of the association.
TESL NS has been operating under our mother association TESL Canada. It is also an affiliate of TESOL International. Keep checking their websites for the latest news.
This is the end of my presidency, but not the end of my membership. I believe some 15 years of serving on the board, much of it as the Editor of its Newsletter, might be enough to write a book about the association. -:) Permit me, though, to reminisce a little. The association has changed a lot. When I started being the editor of its Newsletter, I had to type all the contents (using a typewriter), then had to have it photocopied at a commercial site and sent to members’ home addresses. There being no way of knowing whether the messages reached their addressees, follow-up phone calls were necessary. Ellen Pilon came to the rescue as the first webmaster sin portfolio when it was possible to do so and then we started publishing electronically and started emailing members. Jennifer MacDonald as the editor for the past 2 years, moved our website into the high-tech age.
We didn’t have much money then. Fortunately, we had the Margaret Page Foundation to pay invited plenary speakers for our annual conferences. Eventually, we became bigger and were able to host two national conferences here in Halifax, and to co-host another one with TESL NB. TESL Canada gives some money to provincial TESL associations that host these big conferences. Otherwise, we depend on our membership fees.
The main goal of our conferences is trying to keep up with the changes of the times.
Our “clients” change — different cultures, different needs, different expectations, and different learning styles. Some of our employers’ demands change too, depending on their priorities: quality education, better business or both. So we teachers are always, and have always been, caught in the middle. We have to try to adapt to the changes without losing our health, especially our sanity. Attending professional development programs helps.
We tend to teach who we are and we need nudges to keep pace with changes. Conferences can remind us of what we might have forgotten and can guide us how to spice up the teaching styles we have grown complacent in using.
One of the things I — as a member and as an officer — learned in dealing with people in conferences is humility. The more I learned from others, old and new blood, the more I knew there were still so many things I did not know. There are many challenges, especially in incorporating technology and cultural sensitivities into our methodology. Teaching and learning are both dynamic processes. We have to keep learning to teach better.
What else did I learn from being a leader? Tolerance. I never assumed I knew it all when I became the president, in spite of having been on the board for many years. I made sure I wasn’t a threat. I tried to listen to the concerns of every member and to give them all a chance to get what they needed within the bounds of professionalism. My main concern has been to provide a pleasant working atmosphere, in which all concerned could utilize their potentials to reach the common goals.
I am grateful for the guidance of all the leaders before me, two of whom became TESL Canada Presidents (Maureen Sargent/SMU and Ellen Pilon/ISIS), and for the big help and support from all of my board colleagues. I thank our book donors (thanks to the initiative of Mary Lou Harnish) and the institutions that let us have their space for our monthly meetings and conferences – TLC/SMU, MSVU, ISIS, and specially Dalhousie University (through Jennifer MacDonald) for hosting 2 successive annual conferences on their campus. A big thank you to Michael Landry for keeping our finances on track, to Olga Sarycheva for patiently taking down minutes, to Anna Maier for all the saintly work in keeping track of membership, to Hong Wang as our TESL NS Rep and Chris Klatecki for becoming our temporary TESL NS Rep on so short a notice. Thanks very much to Prof. Sandra Powell for helping wherever she was needed and also for organizing the recognition of outgoing board members, and to Jayne Geldart and Carol Derby in coming back to the association to share with us their previous experience. We hope to see David McLeod and Khaleda Alkhoraibet again when they visit Halifax. -;)
May I join all the 2014 board members in congratulating and welcoming the newly elected board for 2015.
It has been a long journey working with and for TESL Nova Scotia, but it has been both a pleasure and a privilege. I will miss you all.
Fe Leonor Baculi (Faculty SMU/TLC)
Outgoing TESL Nova Scotia President