Back to Blog

CATESOL Book Review with Kara Mac Donald Featuring Erin O'Reilly

Christie Sosa

Language Teacher Professional Development, By Thomas S.C. Farrell (2015), Series Editor Thomas S. C. Farrell, TESOL Press

By Erin O’Reilly and Kara Mac Donald

In the Introduction, Chapter One, the author places teachers in three categories, with no value on the category one may self-assign or be assigned. He explicitly stated that each teacher, regardless of the category at any point in time, are doing what they understand best and the book is aimed at all educators across such categories, because he believes in teachers’ sincere intent.

Chapter Two asks a simple but meaningfully profound question – why do/would teachers want to develop themselves? If everything is working, why change? If your supervisor and students are satisfied, why alter things? Some professional development looks at training in a deficient model and teachers need to be supplemented with appropriate or current pedagogy. So, professional development can be institutional directed or it can be teacher directed.  The chapter offers guiding questions for both, and finishes with assumptions about professional development.

So logically, Chapter Three addressed what constitutes professional development. Naturally, the distinction between training and development is discussed, and how that intersects with distinct phases of individuals’ teaching professional careers. Highly relevant to readers.
Since professional development can take many forms and is unique to the individual and dynamic over time, there is no one prescriptive guidance, and Chapter Four outlines various means to be reflective in the teaching practice and develop oneself – Journal writing, Classroom observations, Action research, Critical friendships, Teacher reflection groups, Teaching portfolios, and so on.

Of course, the next question may be home to maintain ongoing professional development, which is addressed in Chapter Five. The author outlines a five-step process for sustaining that encompasses various considerations, but highly practical with reflective questions, which are a characteristic throughout the book.
Chapter Six outlines the various topics of the English Language Teacher Development series, outlining the numerous topics of the books in the series to offer reader insight for a means for teacher professional development.

Kara Mac Donald is an Academic Student and Faculty Development Trainer at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, Monterey, CA, where she support both teachers and students in academic development.

Professional development for program administrators and classroom teachers is often a challenge based on work demands. And possibly more so in the virtual teaching and learning environment due to the COVID19 distance instructional delivery. However, these resources and the ones part of this/these series are affordable and accessible professional development and teaching resources to be used in numerous ways.

Call for Book Review Co-Authors
If you are interested in co-authoring a book slated for the coming months or if you would like to recommend a book that you would like to review as co-author/sole author in future issues, please contact Kara Mac Donald,