Interview With A School Owner: Sue Of ELT Notebook

I had the opportunity to interview Sue of ELT Notebook via email about her path from English language teacher to school owner.

This current role as school owner was more or less a natural development for Sue. She had been working as a Director of Studies and teacher trainer for a large language school and when she wanted to work a bit less in order to have time to pursue other activities, it just made sense to go freelance. And then when she was offered more work than she could handle, she started looking for other people to help out. Today she is the owner of a small school which consists of a few teachers and translators who work on an as-needed basis along with Sue herself.

Sue feels that her EFL experience has been essential in the success of her business.

I think any teacher who’s worked in a school without a DOS, or with someone in charge who doesn’t have any background whatsoever in teaching, can speak for just how important this is. She has also found that her experience managing classes translates well into managing teachers as employees, though with DELTA and/or MA qualified teachers the direction necessary is minimal. She admits her challenges are those things outside the teaching realm, like marketing and sales.

What kind of person is best suited to run a school? I really can’t say it any better than Sue: “Depends on the type of school! I think we all know that language school owners can be anything from complete crooks to highly experienced ELT and business professionals. However, leaving aside the crooks, I’d say energy, professional competence, a bit more energy, the ability to get on with and understand the needs of other people (teachers, and clients), and again – energy.”

Her pet peeves are less to do with teaching and more to do with unrealistic expectations of students or clients – a student who cancels two out of three lessons, doesn’t work outside of class, and is then surprised that he hasn’t made progress. Or a company who expresses dissatisfaction that a reputable, well-staffed school offering quality lessons costs more than a cowboy school.

It seems clear that Sue has gained a lot from her extensive experience – it may sound perplexing at first that she feels it’s difficult to make any comparison between the vastly different countries she’s taught in, but perhaps that’s because of her well-planned and strategic moves. She reports that she’s made it a priority to choose positions which allow her to progress and develop as a teacher – and throughout her over-thirty-year EFL career put more emphasis on this than on location. So from place to place, she’s had different responsibilities and expectations.

To get an even better idea of Sue as a teacher, check out ELT Notebook where she offers regular advice and tips for the classroom, and stay tuned for the final segment of the TEFL Logue interview: what this particular school owner looks for when hiring teachers. For now, you can read on to <a href="“>Part 2 of Sue’s TEFL Logue Interview.