A Wonderful Experience

By John Overton

My tenure as president of TESOL France 2004 was a wonderful experience in all the issues to do with managing a team. Prior to this I had only been an active member of the association for one year following in the footsteps of Marion Attali, Events Chair.

I started on the ExCom with the responsible area of events chair, organising the 'Culture' colloquium and Spring day and getting help from as many as possible for the programme etc. I didn't realise at the time how time consuming it would be, but was lucky to be able to count on support and guidance from good people such as Rachel Amos, Sylvie Cicarelli and especially Marion Attali and Marie Pierre Beaulieu.

On becoming president I realised how challenging it is to chair a meeting, stick to the timing of a meeting's agenda and ensure that the action plans are met by enough people. All this stuff we teach, but how often - outside TESOL France - do we get the chance to really put it into practice? It armed me with many anecdotes for my presentations/ meetings/ negotiations classes! One important lesson I learnt was to know when to let go if people are resisting your ideas and the time management part is another of my challenges.

The trip to the TESOL Conference in Baltimore USA in March 2003 (I remember the frenzied TV ads for duct tape and anti-terrorist shelters) was a memorable and enriching experience personally and gave me a host of ideas which we could have put into practice. My only disappointment was, due to the sudden departure of 2 members of the excom, I had to take on the roles of events chair and president combined. Ouch. There was therefore not enough time for me to put into practice many of the good ideas picked up in Baltimore. But then, it's also the art of delegating. I think we were all feeling the pinch of not having enough volunteers.

Thank goodness TESOL France still works its magic and gives teachers a chance to participate in self development at the same time as they develop others. The team now, under Michael Ashworth's watchful eye, is full of dynamism and great ideas. Good luck and I look forward to 'Innovations' in November.

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