Connect, Grow, Thrive

From Teacher to Manager: Managing language teaching organizations

Book Review: ETAS Journal Volume 29 Number 1 Winter 2011

From Teacher to Manager: Managing language teaching organizations 

Ron White, Andy Hockley, Melissa Laughner and Julie van der Horst Jansen

Cambridge University Press (2008)
ISBN 978-0-521-70909-5
282 pages, including appendix and references for further reading

Teacher management and managing language teaching organizations have become ‘big business’ in the past few decades. This book is for managers of language institutions or for those looking to move in this direction. It is recommended to such people as directors of all kinds as well as owners.  I would add that this would be a helpful tool for anyone leading other teachers, such as a department or team head. 

The book is not exhaustive but contains introductions to the following topics: general management of the Language Teaching Organization (LTO), organizational and behavioural management, human resources management, marketing and sales, customer service, strategic financial management, operational financial management, academic management, managing change, project management. Also included in this book are an appendix and references for further reading  for those who are new to the managerial business.

Since I do not run an LTO, I chose three chapters that apply to my situation, starting with the general chapter ‘Managing the LTO’. This chapter looks at the various kinds of management possible in an LTO and the responsibilities that are part of each kind of management. For example, in academic management, one would be responsible for curriculum development, course planning, assessment, teaching, materials selection, and development.  Another topic this particular chapter addresses is one for beginners: the transition to LTO manager. This particular section covers topics such as knowledge, skills, attitudes, and awareness.

Human Resources Management is another chapter that may be applied to many a teacher. The topics covered here are staffing, motivation, performance management, delegation, conflict management and negotiation, and legislation. One of the best parts of this chapter is the case study on staff orientation. Many of us have had to ‘train in’ someone new, even if we weren’t a director or LTO owner.

The chapter on academic management was most interesting to me, personally, as I do many of the tasks described. The chapter covers curriculum, resources (such as materials), professional development, and quality management. I found the personal accounts in this chapter and the comments on them very helpful. Another section presents the dual roles of an academic manager, which  was quite insightful. Teacher observation is also a topic covered in this chapter, and, although it is just touched upon, it has some good ‘rules to follow’.

The Appendix contains some answers to tasks from various chapters as well as example job and person descriptions. Also, a glossary to accompany this book is available online from Cambridge.

Even if running an LTO is not in you future plans, this book would satisfy most of the requirements for a department head or for a language school coordinator as well as, of course, for those venturing off to start or take over an LTO, as it is quite comprehensive in its coverage of topics relevant to the management of language schools.

Patty Jehle