5 Myths about being an independent language or literacy professional (and secrets of the trade you need to know)

June 18, 2014

Sometimes when I talk with contract language teachers, sessionals, adjuncts, freelance writers, editors and others who dedicate themselves to the language and literacy profession, I’ve learned that there are some myths about the profession that we need to debunk. Here are a few of them:

Myth #1 – The work is about the language

You absolutely need to understand the mechanics of language and the foundations of effective learning to succeed as an independent language professional, the real work is about the people you work with. Helping others to learn, grow and develop as human beings is at the heart of what we do. If you think the job is about being “the spelling police” or a “grammar guru”, you’ve missed the point.

Myth #2 – Being a professional means someone else does the admin work

Language teachers love being in the classroom, but that’s only part of the job. Submitting grades, writing reports and tending to administrative duties comes with the territory. In today’s world, being a professional means paying as much attention to the quality of your administrative work as you do to your teaching. Program and institutional staff are not your personal secretaries. They are professionals in their own right and deserve to be treated as such.

Myth #3 – Being an independent professional means you have no boss

Sometimes people say to me, “You are so lucky!  You have no boss!” Nothing could be further from the truth. You get a minimum of one new boss with every contract you take one. Sometimes you have more than one person you report to. If you’re very lucky, those people will like each other and see eye to eye. If they don’t, you are the one who will get pulled in different directions. Learning to figure out, understand and navigate the reporting requirements of each job is likely to require an immense amount of energy. You invest time and effort at the beginning of every new job. But make no mistake, you will always report to someone, even if it’s not always clear who it is. The trick is to clarify who you report to and understand that your job implicitly involves making that person’s life easier in whatever way you reasonably can.

Myth #4 – The last day of the contract is the end of the job

In many contract situations, there is follow up work to be done after the contract end date. This work is often administrative. Some examples include written reports, expense claims and grade submission. Even though your contract may have officially ended on a particular date, the obligations and expectations of the job may extend past that. Be amenable to reasonable wrap-up duties and ensure you comply with deadlines set by your employer or client. This is important to preserve your positive relationships as you are wrapping up your work. Remember that the end date of a contract may signify the end of a particular job, but your relationships and reputation can outlive any contract.

Myth #5 – It is important to leave with a letter of reference

This is a partial myth. Getting letters of reference can be important, but they can also be formulaic and written according to a template. What’s more important than getting with a generic letter of reference on the last day of the job, is leaving the job with a reputation for excellence and sincere relationships that can last a lifetime. Recommendations that matter are likely to happen over the phone or during informal personal conversations that are more honest and open than a templated letter ever could be. The reality is that we’ll never know about most of the conversations that happen between our prospective employers and our previous employers who are more than likely connected in some collegial way we were never even aware of. Real recommendations don’t come from generic letter we tuck into our portfolios. They come from informal conversations that “never happened”.

There are more myths about the profession that need busting, but these are a few of the most common ones that I see over and over again, especially from folks who are new to the world of working independently either as contractors, freelancers or consultants. The most important thing to remember is that we are only as good as our last contract, our last course or our last project. Our love of language or dedication to literacy is what we do. The reputations we build along the way is how we do it. We need to pay as much attention to the how as we do to the what.

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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

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Blogging workshop for ESL Teachers

January 7, 2013

iStock-woman at laptopI am super excited about an upcoming workshop I am doing. I get to combine two of my favorite passions: working with language teachers and blogging. Here’s our tentative agenda:

Introduction

  • What is a blog?
  • Why do we blog?

Getting Ready to Blog

  • Tips for creating excellent blog posts
  • Using multimedia in your blog
  • Blogging for and with students

Write on! Hands-on blogging

  • Setting up your blog
  • Writing your first blog post
  • Adding categories, tags and excerpts
  • Creating visual interest with photos

What do you think? Have I missed anything? What words of wisdom would you have for teachers who are learning how to blog for the first time? I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts.

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If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or leave a comment. Thanks!

Share or Tweet this: Blogging workshop for ESL Teachers http://wp.me/pNAh3-1yl

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


CILC Pinnacle Award Honorable Mention

November 8, 2012

Sarah Elaine Eaton CILC Pinnacle Award 2011-2012The Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC) is a national U.S. service that offers virtual learning programs and professional development programs for educators.

I have been offering professional development programs via webinar for teachers and other professionals for a few years now. My programs include:

Every year, CILC confers awards on those who have top scores in their program evaluations — in other words, based on how participants evaluate our programs.

Each school year, the scores of ALL program evaluations for each professional development provider are averaged based on 7 questions which are:

The presenter:

  • was knowledgeable about the content.
  • was engaging.

The program:

  • was engaging.
  • was applicable to professional growth.
  • aligned to presenter’s stated objectives.
  • contained strategies that will impact student learning.
  • will impact my teaching.

Each question has a numerical value and drives the CILC Pinnacle Award.

This year, I was thrilled to receive an honorable mention for high quality virtual programming and PD webinars. This is the second time I have received an honorable mention in the Pinnacle Awards. The first time was in 2009-2010. Check out the list of all the professional development award recipients. Mine is listed under my company, Eaton International Consulting Inc.

I love working with CILC. They create amazing opportunities for students, teachers, administrators, leaders and others to engage in collaborative or innovative programs with presenters from across the globe.

They also create opportunities for people like me, who love to do offer programs virtually, the chance to connect with new people from across the United States.

Thank you to the clients who took the time to evaluate my programs and give them high marks. I love working with you.


Webinar recording: 101 Ways to Market Your Language and Literacy Program (#9)

May 23, 2012

In the eighth of ten webinars today on how to market your language or literacy program we focussed on the power of connections. We talked about

  • Building a system for effective follow-up.
  • What is the best way to follow up with someone – phone, e-mail or some other way?
  • How to use the “drip effect” without torturing the other person.

Here’s the recording of Webinar #9:

Please “like” the YouTube video if you find these recordings helpful!

Join us next week for Class #10. It will social media for marketing and building community. Get more details here.

Related posts:

101 Ways to Market Your Language Program (10 Free webinars) – Program overview and login instructions

#1 Webinar recording

#2 Webinar recording

#3 Webinar recording

#4 Webinar recording

#5 Webinar recording

#6 Webinar recording

#7 Webinar recording

#8 Webinar recording

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Share or Tweet this post: Webinar recording is up! Tips for Marketing Your Language and Literacy Program (#9) http://wp.me/pNAh3-1pB

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


Webinar recording: 101 Ways to Market Your Language and Literacy Program (#8)

May 16, 2012

In the eighth of ten webinars today on how to market your language or literacy program we focussed on the power of connections. We talked about

  • The importance of building trust.
  • Relationship marketing.
  • How “building” is more important than “doing” in marketing.

Here’s the recording of Webinar #8:

Please “like” the YouTube video if you find these recordings helpful!

Join us next week for Class #9. It will focus effective marketing follow up. Get more details here.

Related posts:

101 Ways to Market Your Language Program (10 Free webinars) – Program overview and login instructions

#1 Webinar recording

#2 Webinar recording

#3 Webinar recording

#4 Webinar recording

#5 Webinar recording

#6 Webinar recording

#7 Webinar recording

__________________________

Share or Tweet this post: Webinar recording is up! Tips for Marketing Your Language and Literacy Program (#8) http://wp.me/pNAh3-1pd

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


Webinar recording: 101 Ways to Market Your Language and Literacy Program (#7)

May 3, 2012

In the seventh of ten webinars today on how to market your language or literacy program we focussed on the power of connections. We talked about

  • Your circles of influence
  • How to showcase your school as a centre of expertise and excellence
  • The importance of partnerships and how to develop them.

Here’s the recording of Webinar #7:

Please “like” the YouTube video if you find these recordings helpful!

Join us next week for Class #8. It will focus on relationship marketing and the power of connecting in an emotionally positive manner. Get more details here.

Related posts:

101 Ways to Market Your Language Program (10 Free webinars) – Program overview and login instructions

#1 Webinar recording: 101 Ways to Market Your Language and Literacy Program 

#2 Webinar recording: 101 Ways to Market Your Language and Literacy Program

#3 Webinar recording: 101 Ways to Market Your Language and Literacy Program

#4 Webinar recording: 101 Ways to Market Your Language and Literacy Program

#5 Webinar recording: 101 Ways to Market Your Language and Literacy Program

#6 Webinar recording: 101 Ways to Market Your Language and Literacy Program

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Share or Tweet this post: Webinar recording is up! Tips for Marketing Your Language and Literacy Program (#7) http://wp.me/pNAh3-1o5

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


Webinar recording: 101 Ways to Market Your Language and Literacy Program (#6)

April 25, 2012

In the sixth of ten webinars today on how to market your language or literacy program we focussed on speciality tips for programs at large institutions. We talked about

  • The role of advocacy in marketing a program at a large institution
  • The marginalization of language programs at universities and similar organizations
  • The importance of marketing, PR and relationship building with others at your institution
  • The slow pace of moving forward with an entrepreneurial program nested within an institutional context

Here’s the recording of Webinar #6:

Please “like” the YouTube video if you find these recordings helpful!

Join us next week for Class #7. It will focus on relationship marketing. Get more details here.

Related posts:

101 Ways to Market Your Language Program (10 Free webinars) – Program overview and login instructions

#1 Webinar recording: 101 Ways to Market Your Language and Literacy Program 

#2 Webinar recording: 101 Ways to Market Your Language and Literacy Program

#3 Webinar recording: 101 Ways to Market Your Language and Literacy Program

#4 Webinar recording: 101 Ways to Market Your Language and Literacy Program

#5 Webinar recording: 101 Ways to Market Your Language and Literacy Program

__________________________

Share or Tweet this post: Webinar recording is up! Tips for Marketing Your Language and Literacy Program (#6) http://wp.me/pNAh3-1ns

If you are interested in booking me (Sarah Eaton) for a presentation, keynote or workshop (either live or via webinar) contact me at sarahelaineeaton (at) gmail.com. Please visit my speaking page, too.


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