"Walk Slow" – an overview to the IDLTM course
First published in Teaching Times TESOL France. 2010
"Walk slow" was the first piece of advice I was given when I first got a job as a Director of Studies roughly twenty six years ago. It has served me well ever since then and I have passed it on to numerous participants on Educational Management courses I have tutored over the years. Everyone else might be running around tearing their hair out, but an educational manager should appear cool, calm and confident at all times, hence 'walk slow'. After all, being a manager includes inspiring confidence in those you are managing regardless of how you might be feeling at the time: we are talking human resource management and communications here of course which is one of the modules on the IDLTM course certificated by the University of Cambridge in England, the University of Queensland in Australia and the School for International Training in the United States of America.
Another favourite quote of mine, this time from Wilhelm Von Humboldt (1767–1835) is: "You cannot teach a language, only create the conditions under which it might be learned." This doesn't directly relate to educational management of course, but consider the conditions under which a teacher is enabled to work and a school to run effectively and efficiently and this quote suddenly has a lot of relevance to educational managers in my opinion. Educational managers need to ensure these conditions are optimised and clearly realised in all aspects of the school structure.
In some ways a school can be compared to a restaurant with a variety of staff members doing different jobs which together add up to a good restaurant as a whole, hopefully so at least. Who runs the restaurant? Is it the chef? Many chefs seem to consider themselves the most important person in a restaurant, but no customer would get to eat without someone to take and serve an order and it wouldn't be possible to eat without clean plates and cutlery – someone has to do the washing up. In the middle of this there is a manager who ensures the 'parts' add up to the 'whole'. And there is something else: customer expectations. A British person ordering roast beef in a Parisian restaurant might be rather surprised when the meal arrives at the table: Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and gravy are unlikely to be part of the meal and the meat might well be rather redder than the customer is used to. Who deals with this problem?
Every school needs a manager who ensures that all the parts are making up the whole and that customer expectations are being met as fully as possible once the 'menu' has been made transparent so that the customer knows what they are choosing. Schools also need gifted 'chefs' – the educational leaders who provide educational expertise and direction. However, the manager and the leader are not necessarily the same person; in fact they frequently are not.
So, back to the conditions that the educational manager needs to ensure; these can be categorised under a variety of headings such as these that follow:
- Management and Managing
- Organisational Management
- Managing Financial Resources
- Human Resource Management and Communication
- Client and Customer Service
- Academic Management
The above are the IDLTM course core modules, there are also two more which reflect specific local concerns ie: issues in your own working context that you can work on as part of the course. Overall the course aims to enable managers to create the conditions under which a school will run optimally.
I wish you all bon appétit!
Full course details