An interview with Aleksandra Popovski

28th April 2022

Vicky: First of all, I would like to thank you for agreeing to give this interview and I would also like to welcome you!

Aleksandra: Thank you for the invitation, Vicky.

Vicky: Aleksandra, you are the new Vice President. Would you like to introduce yourself to the IATEFL members who do not know you?

Aleksandra: Well, I’m Aleksandra but most of my friends and those who know me call me Alex. I’m from Bosnia and Herzegovina currently living in North Macedonia. I’m a teacher of English with a BA in English Language and Literature and MA in Professional Development for Language Education. I’ve been teaching for a long time, 25 years this year. I’m also a teacher trainer training on various teacher training courses and projects. 

Vicky: Can you talk to us about your working life routine? Can you tell us what you are doing currently?

Aleksandra: One of the perks of being my own boss is that I can start my day whenever I want. It’s very difficult to control myself and not sit in front of my computer as soon as I wake up. I made a very conscious decision about three years ago not to turn on my computer before 9 am. 

My day usually starts quite early, 6 am with a walk with my dog by the lake. I live on a beautiful lake, Ohrid Lake which has the most amazing scenery. Then the usual things : breakfast, coffee before I sit down at my computer and join the virtual world of work. Mornings are for administrative work for my two companies, translations, writing, sending and replying to emails, IATEFL and IATEFL MaWSIG related work. I need to finish all that by 2 pm to prepare and have lunch because afternoons and evenings are for teaching. I usually have lessons until 9.30 pm. After that, the only thing I can manage is some reading and my day ends around 11 pm.

I am currently working on several projects writing materials for teacher training courses, a course of my own and a coursebook.

Vicky: Tell us about your experience as the Coordinator of our Materials Writing Special Interest Group.

Aleksandra: MaWSIG came unexpectedly. I joined MaWSIG because of my interest in writing materials (my MA dissertation is on materials development). I wanted to learn more about materials writing, meet other writers, and just be a part of that community. However, when I saw a vacancy for a joint events coordinator, I thought why not go for it and that’s how I became a member of the MaWSIG Committee. Rachael Roberts was the coordinator at the time, and she was really welcoming, extremely supportive and helpful as were the other committee members. After some time, Tania Pattison became the joint coordinator and then in 2018 both Rachael and Tania decided to step down. No one on the committee wanted to take over and once again I decided to challenge myself and put myself forward for the position. I’ve been the SIG coordinator since June 2018 and I’m stepping down in May in Belfast. It will be difficult to leave MaWSIG because the committee members are an amazing group of people and professionals (Clare, Jen, Penny, Ceri, Nick, Sandy, Heather, Niki) who finally got used to my Balkan humour (at least I hope they did).

Vicky: CPD has changed significantly and considering the new world conditions, how do you believe  IATEFL can address this new challenge?

Aleksandra: I think that IATEFL adapted to the challenges of the brave new world of CPD quite quickly. We have seen great flexibility and adaptability from the HO staff, the Trustees, the CEO and Deputy CEO. Yes, there have been a few hiccups along the way, but we have all been working hard to make sure that our members and non-members have the best possible CPD. The decision to defer the conference in 2020 was not an easy one, but it had to be done. The safety and health of the delegates were and are a priority for IATEFL. I’m glad that the SIGs and IATEFL have been able to offer various online events with a very steep learning curve. AND we had our very first online IATEFL Annual Conference. I believe that IATEFL has the capacity to deal with all current and future challenges because of the volunteers behind it.

Vicky: What are your vision and philosophy? What do you aim to achieve from your new position?

Aleksandra: My vision – IATEFL becoming bigger and stronger, fulfilling its mission of linking, developing, and supporting ELT professionals worldwide. I know it sounds like a cliché, but I truly believe in the power of the professional community, teachers’ associations. I’ve been involved in TAs for over 20 years, and I wouldn’t have achieved most of my professional goals without the support of other teachers and the associations I belong to, such as ELTAM MK, IATEFL, and TESOL International.

What do I aim to achieve? My statement for the position of VP of IATEFL says that I would like to connect IATEFL SIGs and Associates. I would like them to organize joint professional development events and create resources that will be accessible to members and non-members alike. We have over 100 associates and 16 SIGs, but you will rarely see joint events. I think the reason for this is that the associates do not know what they could do together with the SIGs. I strongly encourage our associates to get in touch with the SIG Coordinators to see how they could work together.

Another part of my statement is that I am and will always be fully committed to the betterment of teachers’ professional lives by making the connection between IATEFL and teachers of English stronger through cooperation, collaboration, and support. This is true. It’s not a cliché. I am genuinely committed to this because I am a teacher who understands the importance of working together with others. We work together, we grow together, and we become better together.

Vicky: How can you effectively lead an international association such as IATEFL?

Aleksandra: How can anyone? After my experience with our national association, ELTAM MK (I stepped down as president of ELTAM MK in March 2022), I understand and know that it takes all my knowledge and experience to lead an association. For me an association, any association, be it a national or international one, is all about the people, members, teachers. I am a team player who can collaborate with others easily and learn from them at the same time. I don’t know everything about running an international association such as IATEFL and I don’t want to know it because then it wouldn’t t be fun and challenging. I look forward to learning.

About Aleksandra Popovski 

Aleksandra Popovski is the incoming Vice President of IATEFL. She holds an MA from the University of Chichester, UK. She is a teacher and teacher trainer with over 20 years of teaching experience. She is an invited speaker at national and international conferences. Aleksandra was also Coordinator of IATEFL MaWSIG and President of ELTAM MK, N. Macedonia.

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