Like any dedicated teacher, over the years I’ve given a lot of thought to my professional development, and while I’m glad to be where I am today, I can’t help but wonder if I could have taken a better, more organised approach. And if you’re a teacher who has career goals but you’re not entirely clear how to get there, this is something that you might recognise in yourself too. Following a professional pathway is a must if you focusing on improving your professional development.

You might be thinking that eventually you’d like to become a coordinator, a materials writer, or more proficient at what you do now.

In an ideal world, you would have a mentor and an employer that invests in your professional development to help you get there, but we know that that isn’t always the case. 

What tends to happen to teachers like this is that they invest in themselves as and when they can without any long term goals. Things will come up and it will seem like the right idea at the time, but there’s no coherent plan. I call this the ‘vending machine approach’ because you can go and get items one at a time without needing to think about what came before and what will come next.

The problem with this method is that it doesn’t provide the teacher with a clear sense of progression. When I think of my own development, a plan towards a specific goal would have helped me a great deal. I could have used my time (and money!) much better with defined goals and guides to help me get there. I was trying to do too many things at once without a clear sense of the path I was on or what the logical next steps were.

This is why at Active English we have decided to create professional development pathways. We are creating communities which you can join and, with the help of our team and the community, you can take steps towards being the ELT professional you want to be. Instead of going to the ‘vending machine’, you can adopt a more considered and directed plan. 

And if you wish, every month we will offer a new step which you can take to gradually and affordably reach your development goals. These will take different forms, from mini-courses to lesson resources, ebooks to webinars, and many more. All of these steps will be taken under the guidance of our Active English team who will be with you every step of the way, so you’ll never walk alone.

By joining the Active English pathways, you will be able to develop and grow professionally in a community that nurtures and encourages you. I only wish these steps had been available to me in my career!

You can join our community now at the links below. We’d love to see you there.



Inner Circle

professional development


  • James Taylor, based in Brasília, Brazil, is an award-winning EFL teacher, teacher trainer, materials writer and project manager for Active English. He’s the 2nd Vice President of BRAZ-TESOL, leader of BRAZ-TESOL MAWSIG, a committee member of BRAZ-TESOL Brasília & IATEFL TDSIG and has written coursebooks for FTD Educaçao and TransFor.Me. He produces the TEFL Commute podcast & co-founded the Raise Up! project, encouraging diversity in ELT materials.