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From Teacher To Manager: Managing Language Teaching Organizations

Review by Helen Mitchell, IH Belfast

In these difficult times, decisions made by DoSes will seriously affect their organisation and having a clearer insight into business processes will hopefully encourage educational managers to be more proactive in their approach.  This is useful reading for anyone currently taking or wishing to take the International Diploma in Language Teaching Management (IDLTM) or the International House DoS Certificate Course as well as academic managers needing to gen up on what exactly they should be doing…and how.  The authors aim to present ‘what appears to make an LTO effective as an educational institution, as a service provider, as a profitable enterprise, and as a good employer.’
This text builds on the work presented in Management in English Language Teaching (CUP, 1991) and highlights how business matters, previously only the domain of the educational managers of an organisation, have now permeated through whole organisations.  Teachers are no longer just teachers but ‘service providers’ and it is ever more necessary to adopt this ‘quality’ approach.  As a result, sections of this book could be useful for INSET sessions with teachers as well – the more transparency that exists on management issues, the more effective the organisation can become as a whole.
From Teacher to Manager is divided into ten chapters:  Managing in the LTO (Language Teaching Organsation), Organisational Behaviour and Management, Human Resource Management, Marketing and Sales, Customer Service, Strategic Financial Management, Operational Financial Management, Academic Management, Managing Change and Project Management.  For those of you reading who are DoSes, you will recognise the increasing part these activities play in your daily job, particularly if, like me, you work in a small school where there is a large degree of overlap between roles.
There are useful vignettes in every chapter giving short case studies and question boxes are included to encourage the reader to focus on his/her own specific organisation.  Obviously there is huge discrepancy between various LTOs and the writers attempt to overcome this by including examples from different types of organisations.  There is generally something you can relate to in your school in each section. For example, the chapter on Human Resource Management takes you through step-by-step how to identify what type of candidate you want through to the final hiring.  This type of information may be the very thing a new manager is lacking – as teachers we have many transferable skills from the classroom but sometimes you just need hands-on, practical facts.
However, because of the sheer amount of information that needs to be presented, the pages are packed with information and the presentation is fairly dull.  The text is dense and there is constant referral to separate pages for tables, explanations and additional information which is frustrating, though it is worth the effort to persevere.
I have studied management before but this is the first book I have read that specifically looks at managing Language Teaching Organisations and it is fascinating to read about management practices within this industry.  All in all, it’s a really useful reference book and I would definitely recommend this text to all new managers in the ELT industry.

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