At the 2017 TESL Canada conference and AGM in Niagara Falls, Ontario, I was voted in as the new Vice-President of TESL Canada. The conference was a wonderful experience in terms of the quality of presentations and the chance to network and collaborate with colleagues from across the country. Sadly, the conference was not as well attended as was hoped and did not receive anticipated revenues. Moving into the summer, the Head Office worked diligently to try to keep the organization moving forward, but financial challenges were flagged. We reduced the hours of the executive director and made other cuts, but the Board finally had to make the difficult decision to close the Head Office.
Throughout the early fall, the Board met regularly to problem solve and discuss how to best serve the organization and its members. We began conversations with stakeholders and other related organizations to determine how we could keep the federation viable. Unfortunately, during this time we had to temporarily suspend services until we could determine a workable process. In mid-fall, our President had to step down for personal reasons and I was then in the position of Acting President from the end of October.
My first goal as Acting President was to communicate and be transparent with members and others interested in the well-being of TESL Canada. I made this my primary focus for the month of November. Also, I relied heavily on the board members for support and collaboration and am forever grateful that they stayed the course and contributed regularly (in addition to board meetings) to the ongoing work of restabilising the organization. I want to not only acknowledge the support of the board, but the support of my colleagues at TESL NB who stepped up to help with the website, communications, and other pressing matters. I particularly want to recognize Craig Whynot who gives his volunteer hours to update our website, to Donna Hoffman who volunteered her time to support with administrative matters and who is now working part-time for TESL Canada.
In terms of services, one of our objectives was to ensure that the TESL Canada Journal and the related SSHRC funding was transferred into the capable hands of our Journal Editors, Dr. Farahnaz Faez and Dr. Antonella Valeo. We are so pleased that the Editors have been able to publish the special issue on formulaic language with guest editor, Dr. David Wood and the regular issue for 2017 which is now online at: http://teslcanadajournal.ca/index.php/tesl/issue/view/150
We look very forward to the 2018 issues and are very appreciative of the hard work of Dr. Faez and Dr. Valeo in maintaining this excellent academic publication.
Also, during the fall and into the winter, we sought out possibilities for an external service to manage the complex work of teacher training program accreditation. Although much time was spent collaborating with Orion, the service used by Languages Canada for their language programs, we were not able to come to a proposal that was workable and affordable for our valued TTPs. Therefore, we are now in the process of reactivating TTPR on a somewhat reduced basis in order to maintain the service for TTPs already recognized by TESL Canada. Later this summer we will be sending out an invitation for annual reports and will be inviting those who are due for renewals to submit their applications for adjudication. As we move forward, we hope to reopen TTPR to new programs, but for the next 6 months, we will focus on currently recognized TTPs (see appendix A for the list of current TTPRs).
Teacher Certification was another priority and with the ability to hire Donna on a part-time basis and with the unwavering support of our Standards Chair, Dmitri Priven, we have been able to reactivate this service in February. It was a huge learning curve for myself and for Donna, but we are now able to process applications fairly smoothly with the competent and professional work of adjudicators. For your information, I have attached some stats related to certification so that members can see that we are actively processing applications from across the country (see appendix B for the Certification numbers for 2017-18).
Our financial situation has stabilized and our outgoing treasurer, Brian Courtney, will be giving the detailed report on this matter. Brian has streamlined the financial matters and will be able to transition a new treasurer smoothly into this position. Also, TESL Canada has been able to retain our accountant and we are cognizant of the important work that he does to provide financial advice and manage the account. I would like to give Brian a formal word of gratitude as he has been tireless and highly professional in his handling of this challenging portfolio.
One final note, and this will be one of our priorities in the next year, our relationship to the provincial TESL organizations remains an area of focus and careful consideration. Although some provinces signed an interim memorandum of agreement, not everyone felt they were able to do so. I want to recognize TESL NB, TESL NS, TESL SK, and TESL NL for their moral and financial support and to TEAL MB and ATESL for keeping the lines of communication and collegiality open (see appendix F for Provincial reports). Because we believe that TESL Canada is a national organization that needs voices from all provinces, we are going to look at creative ways to keep real connections to the provinces. In addition to ensuring Board representation from across the country, we also want to find a workable way to communicate and collaborate regularly with ALL provincial associations. One of our hopes for the future is to be able to participate in some professional learning opportunities and finding ways to offer some small PL bursaries through our TCEF fund.
As I close this report, my final special note of appreciation goes to Judy Sillito, past president, without whom I would not have been able to do any of this work. In particular, I wish to thank her for not only being a voice of support and expertise throughout this year, but in also taking on the nomination committee tasks and encouraging members from across Canada to join the Board. We are so pleased to have national representation including board member nominations from NB, NS, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and BC. Because we only have one nominee for each position on the board, no vote will be required. That being said, we will be putting the list of nominees on the website and a motion will be made at the AGM to approve the slate of nominations. I am looking forward to working with both new and familiar faces as we step into this next year.
Most importantly, I am hopeful that we can all work together as we strive to maintain our services, strengthen our national voice, and collaborate together as TESL professionals.