Published in newspaper ELT News in April 2003.
Spring is already knocking on the door and most of us are already counting down the days to the peace and quiet of the last weeks of the school year. Some of us have even started planning our summer holidays; September is a long five months away and a well-deserved break is just ahead, so don’t worry! Just think of what you are leaving behind; classroom stress, exams stress, syllabus stress, parents stress, financial stress, competition stress … hmm … packing and going doesn’t seem like a bad idea, after all. However, are you sure you won’t face all this again come September? Will all the stress be blown away in the summer breeze?
So here’s the deal: I’m proposing three months at a beautiful sun-drenched Greek spot, peace and quiet guaranteed (okay, apart from the occasional ‘Peaches’ or ‘Pizzes’ – I have still to decipher the exact word – at the beach). Interested? As with all such offers however, it’s on one condition: that you are a PRO teacher …
So what distinguishes a PRO from a RE? I think it’s about time you find out whether you’re eligible for my –irresistible you must admit– offer. A PRO (active) teacher/school owner would be the one that plans, organizes and acts. In contrast, a RE (active) one would deal with whatever the situation is at that moment, dealing with problems as they come. We’ve all been in both places, for sure, but when a PRO you do experience better working days! And what better chance to evaluate and plan your systems than the end of the school year!
Whether a school owner or teacher, now is the time to get together with your colleagues and talk, now is the time to examine yourself, your methods and your school policy. Look back at the year ending in a couple of months time, look back at the objectives set, look back at your goals, your achievements and your failures. Make decisions, plan and act. A PRO seeks criticism, they get wiser through it, they get better at it, but they also seek support, advice and expertise. PROs seek and initiate motivation, they seek and initiate professional and personal development, they seek the freedom that good planning and organization give you. Most of all, PROs think about themselves and their institution and how to better them.
Evaluation, I agree, is a hard and painful procedure. The aims should be clear, the criteria too. Here are some of the areas that need to be dealt with before you pack and go:
- school policy definition/evaluation
- evaluation of marketing and business plan
- analysis of market needs and trends
- well-prepared staff (or self for teachers)
- lesson plans and procedures
- problematic areas
- parental management
The list goes on and on, but each of you will by now have picked up on the areas that have to be thought through for your specific teaching environment. PROs will have already started planning their strategy through these; REs will just deal with them in September.
Still interested in my proposal? Yes? So, PROs, plan, act, pack and go!
*Patritsia Andrioti holds a BA from the University of London, and an M.Ed specializing in TEFL from the University of Bristol. From 2000 to 2003 she worked for a major International Publisher based in Oxford, UK and subsequently as a Project Manager in their Greek offices. She has a strong interest in teacher development, educational material development and evaluation, and the implementation of communicative, interactive activities in the EFL classroom.