Signs Of A Good School
Of course this can be hard to assess – how do you know? It’s hard. But I’d give a lot of credit to a school that attempts to show you an accurate picture of things and doesn’t paint everything rosy.
By this I mean that they reply to your email in a reasonable amount of time and make a reasonable effort to answer or address the questions you actually asked. I wouldn’t hold it against them if they don’t have an answer, but in my book a school that admits that is better than one that tries to evade the question.
Standards for you
Some schools really will hire nearly anyone. You can probably get a job at one of these schools; is it a good one? I’d be wary. I think it’s a good sign if they have reasonable requirements and generally try to ensure that you meet them by asking you questions, checking references and so on. Similarly, a school that has standards for you to meet should demonstrate by its actions that it cares about you as a person and as a teacher and will make the effort to provide conditions under which you can meet those requirements.
Similar to honesty, really, but here I’d put the emphasis on the school making information available to you, rather than waiting for you to ask about it. It’s fair enough that they don’t put every last detail of their business plan on their website, but I think it’s good if you don’t have to struggle to collect information.
Standards for students
Especially in a private language school, there is the risk of a business attitude prevailing. As I see it, an open school will acknowledge that students are in fact customers, but will also do more than pay lip service to the educational aspect of ELT: in my view they should have decent assessment methods that they stick to in practice; I would be wary of teaching in a situation where all students passed.
Keep in mind that no school will be perfect; these are merely my own ideas. I’ve posted on Signs of A Bad School before and think it’s important to focus on the positive as well.