What do I look for in a school?

This is related to Fabienne’s “What do I look for in a teacher” post, but it’s in no way intended as any kind of reply. Hopefully just starting a new conversation or continuing it from a new angle. 🙂

If we’re honest, there are two stages in school-choosing. In the first stage, the main consideration is really, “Do they have hours?” “Do the hours fit in my existing schedule?” If the answer to either of those questions is “no”, then that’s the end of the consideration. The more complicated part of school-choosing is after the end of the first year when we have to decide whether we want to keep working at this school or start looking for new hours at a new place. Here’s what matters most to me (and I’m interested to hear what matters most for you in the comments): consistency, professionalism, and good atmosphere/colleagues.

By consistency, I mean how far in advance can I know my schedule? When a course is booked, how certain am I that it will run? By professionalism, I mean two things: am I treated as a professional (ie, do I have an appropriate amount of freedom in my lessons) and is the office run professionally (is the admin work completed efficiently, is the communication handled well, are the wages paid reliably without undue effort on my part)? The atmosphere and colleagues are also important, but I find it easier to work with someone who’s good at their job but I don’t get along with rather than the other way around. Ideally my colleagues will be both professional and nice, although I have been in situations where they were neither.

What about the money? Money is important too, of course. But typically I’m working in 2-3 schools and I don’t get a lot of offers for a 100% position. So if I did get a new offer, I’d be using the above criteria to decide which school to cut, rather than whichever one pays the least. Simple things like being able to plan my schedule and not having to deal with a bunch of repetitive paperwork add up for me and these are the kind of places I want to stick around. The grind of doing work I don’t like takes time out of my life that I’m not paid for anyway, and these kind of factors motivate me to look for something new anyway so I may as well get rid of those jobs first.

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