Perhaps you’ve recently moved from being a teacher to some form of management role – maybe senior teacher, ADOS, Academic Manager, Coordinator, Director of Studies or some other role or title. You’ve probably faced a few challenges in making that transition (see my article from a few years ago for some of those challenges and some advice). You might have been in a management position for a while, and you may even own your own school.
One of the challenges that managers often face can be a sense of isolation – as teachers we have a ready-made network, a staff room, where we can chat and connect to other professionals doing the same job as us. We can ask for advice, complain about the coursebook, laugh about something that happened in class, and generally have a close professional relationship with a group of our peers.
Managers, however, typically don’t have that convenient network, that community of practice. In a large organisation it’s possible you do have peers at your level, but in many cases you are working on your own, and while you hopefully have a good working relationship with the teachers, you are now working in a different area of focus and you can’t share the same stories and bounce ideas off people in the same way.
So, clearly then, a professional network, a community of practice for academic managers, would be a worthwhile and useful thing. And if you can’t find that in-house, then it will have to be outside.
One of the best ways to find a supportive and professional network is through the IATEFL Leadership and Management Special Interest Group (LAMSIG). As the coordinator of LAMSIG I’d like to share with you some of the things we offer and how we feel we can help you.
Face to face Training
While there are dedicated training courses for managers in language teaching organisations, like the IDLTM and DELTM for example, it is possible that you don’t have the time or access to the resources that would make such a course a viable proposition. LAMSIG offers shorter more focussed training held at least twice a year. Prior to the IATEFL conference itself we annually run a pre-conference event (PCE), a training day for those attending the conference (or, indeed, those not attending the conference – there is no requirement that you attend the whole conference if you wish to simply attend the PCE). In recent years we have held PCEs on performance management, continuing professional development, managing difficult people and conflicts, preventing burnout, and teamwork. The next PCE in Glasgow next April will be on “Ethical and Effective Recruitment and Induction”.
LAMSIG runs 3 webinars a year which are open to all and completely free. Past webinars can be watched as recordings for those who are not able to attend live, and are available to everyone. Among the webinars that have so far been held (and which are still available for viewing) are “How to do ELT management research”, “Coaching and mentoring in ELT”, “Appraisals”, “Revitalising coasting teachers” and “Encouraging teachers to take charge of their own CPD”. All those recordings can be accessed from the LAMSIG webinar page.
Conferences or other similar events
LAMSIG partners in a number of conferences – either one-offs or with partners in annual events. In recent years we have held or been involved in events in Barcelona, Brighton, Abu Dhabi, London, Dublin, and most recently Warsaw. In February 2017 we will be partnering for the third consecutive year with International House Barcelona in their annual conference.
LAMSIG members receive two print newsletters and one online e-bulletin per year, with articles and advice written by managers all over the world. This is a great resource for those managing in ELT and the only one of its kind.
Selected articles from old newsletters are freely available on the LAMSIG website, a resource which many managers make great use of.
As well as the website and the various resources contained therein, we have a very active facebook page, on which interesting and relevant articles are regularly posted, a twitter account which also connects ELT managers around the world, and a LinkedIn group for academic managers.
As you can see, as an academic manager you are far from alone. Check out the LAMSIG website, see what we can offer you, and how you can become part of a global community of practice. Join LAMSIG – and get discounts on events and receive the newsletters. And, if there is something we could offer but we are not doing, let us know and we will see what we can do. Finally – get involved. As with everything the more you put into something the more you will tend to get out of it. You have lots to offer to our community too, and we’d love to get your input, participation and contributions.
Andy Hockley is the co-ordinator of LAMSIG and is a freelance educational management consultant and trainer based in deepest Transylvania. He has been training (both teachers and managers) for 20 years and has been coordinating and training on the IDLTM (International Diploma in Language Teaching Management) since its inception in 2001. He is co-author of ‘From Teacher to Manager’ (CUP, 2008), ‘Managing Education in the Digital Age’ (The Round, 2014) and author of ‘Educational Management’ (Polirom, 2007).