29 jan 2019 Your institution needs you in order to survive
In these times of fierce competition in the education market, if you work for an ELT institute or a school, it is not enough to be a great teacher and focus only on teaching a good class. In order to be a valued and valuable professional, there are many things you can do inside and outside the classroom to guarantee the perpetuity of your institution and, consequently, of your job. But what are these behaviors? What can you, teacher, do to help the institution you work for thrive?
Show pride for your job
The very first, basic thing, you need to do is make it a point to show everyone you know that you are proud to work where you work. Your students know it when you are truly part of the team in your school. If you are a social media enthusiast, do not fail to add your workplace to your profile. In social events, when people ask where you work, be proud to say where it is. Wouldn’t you be more likely to enroll your kids in a school where you know the teachers you meet like to work than one where they seem discouraged or, even worse, dismissive about talking about their job? Now if you cannot honestly show this pride, maybe it’s time to move on and find the place that is the right fit for you.
Know your institution well and pass on this knowledge
Many times, the value of learning a foreign language in a language-teaching institute, rather than by way of a private arrangement, lies in the services that this institute provides beyond the classroom. It is, thus, extremely important that you know by heart all the services provided and that you constantly remind students of everything they have at their disposal. For example, if there is a library or resource center, not only should you talk about it, but you should also visit the place with the students and encourage them to borrow books. If the institute has a cultural program, as the one I work for does, make it a point to mention this to students and even show where to find the program for the month. You must also be aware of all the academic services provided, such as tutoring, international exams, educational advising, and the like. Not knowing about these services shows a lack of attachment to the institution that can affect how students see the faculty, and, as a result, the institution. Also, if you do not help advertise all these services to your students and show how your program is different from others out there, your students will not perceive the true value of the service they are paying for and might leave. It is all about differentiation.
Promote your institution on social media
An ELT institute or a school that takes advertising seriously will certainly promote its courses, activities, and services by way of social media, such as Instagram, Facebook, and Linked-in. These posts can reach a much wider audience if all teachers share them among their online friends. Not only will this boost the ad, but it will also show that the teachers are proud of their job.
In addition, if your school allows and you have permission from parents or from your adult students, share photos of the activities you conduct in class. When prospective students see for themselves how interactive your classes are, they are inclined to join your institution. Also share photos of events such as graduation ceremonies, Halloween parties, extracurricular activities and the like. This will certainly help promote your school and attract more students. The more teachers share, the more the school will remain visible on social media and, thus, present in people’s minds.
Promote the institution among your friends and acquaintances
One of the things my now adult daughters hated as teenagers when I gave their friends a ride was that I never failed to ask them if they were learning English. When they said no or said they were learning English in another ELT institute rather than the one I work for, I almost had a fit and said that they had to enroll in my school, that it was the best one, etc., etc. Of course, you don’t have to be this dramatic or embarrass your family, but whenever possible, encourage your friends or people you meet in social events to give your school a try and talk about its positive features. The more students your institute has, the greater its survival chances. Don’t think that it is not your job to recruit students. You are part of the team and it is everyone’s job on the team to recruit and retain students.
Contribute positively to the constant improvement of the institution
Just as no one is perfect, no school or job is perfect. There is always room for improvement. When teachers perceive problems in their schools, they should address them with their leaders. Of course, no one enjoys hearing only criticism, so it is best when you can show a problem and suggest a possible solution. School leaders are not in close, daily contact with students as teachers are, so teachers’ input regarding students’ perceptions, opinions, and behaviors is essential for school improvement. However, it is important to address problems respectfully and with the people who will be able to solve them. If not, you can be seen as a hater, a complainer, rather than someone who is eager to contribute.
You might also face situations in which a friend or acquaintance is not happy about a certain teacher or service provided in your school. You can choose to ignore this in order not to upset anyone, or you can choose to address the issue so that it can be solved, and the student or parent can be happy. The latter option will guarantee student retention. There are ways to do this without getting your colleagues in trouble.
Help everyone become a star
You might be a top-notch teacher, a true star, but if there are few teachers like you in your school, the students might not stay. Only a few stars cannot guarantee the academic success of the whole school. Thus, be sure to help novice teachers and your colleagues who might be struggling in a specific are to improve. Become a mentor, share your lesson plans and activities, give your colleagues a hand when they need it. The more fantastic teachers an institute has, the greater the chance of high student retention. It is best when student retention is aimed at by way of collaboration rather than competition.
Gone are the days when teachers could see themselves as “above” advertising and sales, when they thought getting involved with this kind of stuff was like getting their hands dirty. In this competitive market and these uncertain times, only the strong will survive. If you want your institution to remain strong, you need to go beyond just teaching a good class!