Ian Bonanno

Recently, at EF's Online Teaching Center in Shanghai, I attended a forum for teachers to learn, share, and bond with each other. This most recent forum was the second one at the Online Teaching Center I attended, and these forums typically happen once every six months at EF. These forums are a key feature of being a teacher with EF, because as such a large company these routine forums give us a chance to connect as teachers and professionals with other teachers and professionals. EF not only has teacher forums for online teaching staff like me, but adult teachers, kids teachers, senior teachers, education managers, and directors of studies all have teacher forums specifically geared toward their needs in the company. Now, I can't speak to what happens at these other teacher forums outside of the fact they happen, but I can attest to the fact EF makes an effort to keep the forums fun, and light, and focused on the development of teaching staff.

Online Teacher Forums: What Happens

The first Online Teacher Forum I attended was interesting mostly because the VP of Adult Learning at EF was our key note speaker for said forum. She came to our humble Online Teaching Center because according to her, we as online teachers played a key role in the services EF provides to adult students around China. The VP of Adult Learning walked all of the online teachers at the forum through EF's educational systems, and she gave us a run-down of the companies EF is competing against in the adult teaching market. Now, some of you reading my blog probably think this is incredibly dry stuff, but this was the first time this important information had been shared with the online teaching staff, giving us insight into the key role online teachers play at EF. The teacher forum was a chance to share critical information, and this is exactly what happened at the second teacher forum I attended. The information shared with us the second time around wasn't a clarification of the key role online teachers play, rather the information the second time around was on how our role was and is changing. The news of a coming change to the Online Teaching Center was delivered after a day full of games and workshops capped-off by the news that adult online teachers and kids online teachers would be merged into a single department. Our teams would become even closer!

Online Teacher Forums: The Fun Stuff

Again, I want to acknowledge that the above may seem a bit dry to people outside of EF, so I want to share a few more details about the teacher forums I've attended, to show that it's so much more than just information sharing! At both teacher forums EF gave us all prizes and little gifts, such as EF branded water bottles and EF branded backpacks. At the second teacher forum I even won a smart speaker. We had played games like Pictionary and broken telephone, but it wasn't just the international teaching staff. The local teachers who also work at the Online Teaching Center fully participated in the teacher forum, as well as the games we played at the forum. Both forums were a great chance to mix and bond with the local Chinese teachers who I share an office space with. We also attended fun workshops together, for example, one workshop was about giving directions and we all had fun trying to explain how to make origami panda bears to a partner. Another workshop I really enjoyed was a fun little tutorial on how to DJ, that one of our international teachers put on for the whole office. Overall the teacher forum really highlighted the diversity in our office and strengthened relationships between international and local staff.

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