The sweetness and bitterness of professional development

It's a Saturday and I'm here writing this post. How I envy those of my colleagues who close the door to their staffroom, say goodbye and open their planners and coursebooks or anything related to their content the next day. How I envy those who have their own life and don't spare a single thought for teaching while they're off school. These seem to be the most satisfied teachers who have no doubt about how to teach their subject. They are happy with what they know about teaching and that's why they don't feel the need to go to conferences, attend webinars or constantly search the internet for brand new, interactive activities. 

While my colleagues are at home staring contently into the fireplace with a glass of good wine in their hands, I do all the professional development. Even my social life takes place in auditoriums and classrooms - either real or virtual - and little energy is left for real entertainment such as the cinema, theatre or dance balls. But I can't say with an absolute certainty that due to all the sacrifice I actually know more than my colleagues do. In other words, I may be familiar with some ELT terms they have never heard of, such as scaffolding, total physical response, comprehensible input, dogme, you name it, but that doesn't mean they unwittingly and intuitively don't apply the concepts in their teaching. Some teachers are better off with their common sense than I am with all my theoretical knowledge.

The more I know about teaching the more confused I feel. I don't think this confusion shows openly in my teaching but it directly affects the level of my satisfaction (or frustration). I have too many questions and few answers. In the past it was even worse; although I did all the extra PD stuff just for myself, I subconsciously expected that my extra efforts would be appreciated - by my colleagues, by my students and the administrators. I somehow expected that people around would be stunned by my 'immense' ELT knowledge and general enthusiasm. No, this didn't happen. My hard work didn't result in more fame. In fact, it mostly remained unnoticed. I was but a regular EFL teacher. 

The only person who ever notices how much energy I put into teaching is me. First of all, I feel more tension and controversy in everything I do. It still upsets me, for example, when somebody questions what I do or say because I know better, don't I? On the other hand, with the new horizons ahead of me comes excitement, and an irresistible desire to explore; something my colleagues don't seem to feel so intensely. Despite all the frustration and controversy I often experience, I look forward to every single lesson; every morning I wake up I can't wait to reach school, which most of my colleagues consider crazy. 

I'm not utterly convinced that professional development helps me become a better teacher. But I dare say it definitely turns teaching into an amazing adventure. It makes my own teaching more enjoyable, in spite of all the bitter flavours I occasionally taste at the back of my tongue. I believe my students sense my excitement and I hope some of them may eventually get infected by my enthusiasm.