If I were a DOS…

I’ve always wanted to be in charge of a school. What I mean is that I think I know what would work for courses, teachers and development but I would run a mile from admin, meetings and important non-teaching things. Thus, I’d probably get fired but what the heck.

Recently, the inspiring Tyson Seburn wrote an excellent post about his Xmas wishlist for teachers which spurred me to write this. You can read it at:


So, if I were a DOS I’d…

1)Be nice, welcoming and help teachers, whatever the issue whether it be personal or business. I’d also be honest and tell everyone about pay rules and work issues. I’d invest in teachers to help them grow and develop. I’d also do little things like giving free snacks or drinks at the end of term, letting people leave early once in a while when they/we’ve worked hard, congratulate hardworking staff and just show how much I respect their work on a daily basis.

2)Start from the students up using questionnaires and focus groups to find out their feelings and thoughts about courses and the school so things can be improved.

3)Offer courses that students want and teachers are happy to teach.

4)Try to develop a ‘school atmosphere’ that everyone would be happy to be part of. Yes, enjoyable but not ‘party party’ all the time. End of term/year parties would be short and on the last day and NOT compulsory.

5)Encourage teachers to do ‘action research’ or ‘projects’ like developing materials, new courses or websites.

6)Make sure there was a balance between social and educational activities.

7)Try to get all FT contracted staff and offer more pay for extra hours.

8)If I hired PT staff I’d treat them fairly and pay for prep/travel time.

9)Want students to set their own goals and be helped to improve them.

10)Set up teacher self-evaluations leading to individual goal setting and provide assistance and support for teacher development.

11)Sponsor or half the DELTA.

12)Offer yearly pay rises and have a very clear pay scale that rewards qualifications, experience and special skills.

13)Encourage teachers to try new courses, attend conferences, present at them and write for journals.

14)Want the school to be known as a good and fair place to work and have a career as well as somewhere for research, ideas and development.

15)Apply for the school to be an exam centre and a teacher training centre.

16)Set up and develop online materials, courses and content for teachers and students to use.

Basically, I would be ‘students and teachers (people) first.’ 

Unhappy students=bad reputation and no customers=no money

Unhappy teachers=low morale and crap lessons=bad school

Everyone happy=An effective school with happy and dedicated long-term teachers, with a good reputation, higher standards and a better image=more students/money

I think Herzberg’s Motivation and Hygiene theory is quite fitting to categorize some of these ideas:

Hygiene Factors 

They include: interpersonal relations, physical working conditions and salary

They affect the level of dissatisfaction but do not create job satisfaction.

Motivation Factors 

They include: achievement, advancement, recognition and responsibility. 

They create job satisfaction.

From this perspective, my school would need to establish the basics first ie a good working environment, be a good place to work and pay a decent salary and on time. According to Herzberg, this does not make people like the job but stops them disliking it. In other words, these are things EVERY school should have in place.

The Motivation Factors are what a DOS should be working on improving but would need dedication. These are what really make people happy in their job and I think you get out what you put in but as I  said starting off with being nice and investing in teachers seems to be a good starting point.

I can honestly say that not every (being polite here) place I know has covered the hygiene factors let alone the motivation ones but why?


What do you agree/disagree with?

If you were a DOS how would you run things?

What does your DOS do you like/dislike?

Is job satisfaction important or just a salary?

Reflections on Luke’s talk at iTDI

Today Luke Meddings gave a very interesting intriguing, FANTASTIC talk for the iTDI. As with many great thinkers you had to digest and reflect on what he said using your own experience as it wasn’t just another ‘teaching is great’ talk. What he said was quite revolutionary and if EFL bosses take it on board it could completely change how we see and view CPD in schools and I do hope they follow it.

So, here are my reflections on what Luke said but first the main things that struck a chord:

1)CPD is not continual

I wouldn’t like a DOS who told me “you haven’t developed this week so you’re fired”.

2)CPD should be a team effort and from the teacher up

Peer observations and after lesson/teaching chats and discussions

3)You don’t need FB forms

A conversation is far better

4)Having workshops where teachers observe taught classes and can talk to the students afterwards is useful

This really is groundbreaking as teachers talking to teachers about how well students learned/enjoyed the class is just daft.Ask the students, get it 1st hand!

My ideas for a new TT/CPD approach in a language school should start here:

1)Get rid of all the ‘scheduled observations’, ‘FB forms’, ‘Senior teacher workshops’ and any other things about your TT/CPD provision

2)Have a chat.DOS,ADOS,teachers etc.Find out what people want and decide how to do it.

3)Set up a policy of ‘helping teachers help themselves’


1)Find a time/place (Friday afternoon?) where teachers can go, drink/eat and just talk about their lessons, swap ideas, materials etc

2)In this room have a noticeboard and ‘suggestions box’.

3)If senior teachers are part of it make sure they are seen as equal and not just there to speak for the DOS or report on people.

4)In the first session/meeting provide ideas for CPD like peer observation, provide access to journals, blogs, conference info, books and stick this up.Explain how teachers can help each other by just reflecting, talking through problems/ideas and swapping notes. Add some websites of interesting teaching ideas to the board and ask people if they would like some help with something to put up a HELP WANTED note and if they have something to share then a HELP OFFERED one.

This way if I feel like I’m not handling a student right I can get a colleague to observe or team teach or just speak to the kid with me and then give me some FB/help.

At its basic level teachers will go and drink and chat like “oh, today didn’t go well..” which will lead to ideas and suggestions. OR a teacher will share some material. OR a teacher will just plan his week and swap ideas with another person or do it together.

If some people decide that they need more help/ideas then ‘open sessions’ could be scheduled on a theme and led by 1 person.Here everyone would discuss a topic/problem/theme and swap ideas. If they were willing it could even be followed by a plan of action like “let’s all try X and then meet up next week and discuss how it went”.

The options are endless and unrestricted but having empowered teachers who aren’t afraid of repercussions may be the key.

OK, back to my Luke Meddings shrine.