Where can Academic Managers find support and advice?

In this article, Andy Hockley looks at the support networks available for academic managers in English Language Teaching.
In this article, Andy Hockley looks at the support networks available for academic managers in English Language Teaching.
Perhaps you’ve recently moved from being a teacher to some form of management role – maybe senior teacher, ADOS, Academic Manager, Coordinator, Director of Studies or some other role or title. You’ve probably faced a few challenges in making that transition (see my article from a few years ago on EnglishAgenda for some of those challenges and some advice).
One of those challenges, is likely to be a sense of being more isolated than you previously were – as teachers we have a ready-made network, a staff room, where we can chat and connect to other professionals doing the same job as us. We can ask for advice, complain about the coursebook, laugh about something that happened in class, and generally have a close professional relationship with a group of our peers.
Managers, however, typically don’t have that convenient network. In a large organisation it’s possible you do have peers at your level, but in many cases you are working on your own, and while you hopefully have a good working relationship with the teachers, you are now working in a different area of focus and you can’t share the same stories and bounce ideas off people in the same way.
So, clearly then, a professional network, a community of practice for academic managers, would a worthwhile and useful thing. And if you can’t find that in-house, in your own organisation for those people working in chain schools or larger LTOs, then it will have to be outside.
There are a number of options – some cities or regions have associations, such as Londosa (the London Directors of Studies Association), for example. Some people find their network on a training course – I train on the IDLTM (International Diploma in Language Teaching Management) and one of the bonuses that participants on that course take away as well as the training and certificate itself, is the network that you accrue through working with a group of fellow language teaching managers, as well as a group of alumni to tap into and be a part of.
Perhaps the easiest, though, and the best way to find a supportive and professional network is through the IATEFL Leadership and Management Special Interest Group (LAMSIG). As the coordinator of LAMSIG I’d like to share with you some of the things we offer and how we feel we can help you.

Face to face training: While there are dedicated training courses for managers in language teaching organisations, like the IDLTM mentioned above, it is possible that you don’t have the time or access to the resources that would make such a course a viable proposition. LAMSIG offers shorter more focussed training held at least twice a year.  Prior to the IATEFL conference itself we annually run a pre-conference event (PCE) , a training day for those attending the conference (or, indeed, those not attending the conference – there is no requirement that you attend the whole conference if you wish to simply attend the PCE). In recent years we have held PCEs on performance management, continuing professional development, managing difficult people and conflicts, and preventing burnout. The next PCE in Birmingham next April will be on effective teams and teamwork.

Webinars: LAMSIG runs 3 webinars a year which are open to all and completely free. Past webinars can be watched as recordings for those who are not able to attend live. Webinars that have so far been held (and which are still available for viewing) are “How to do ELT Management Research” with George Pickering; “Coaching and Mentoring in ELT” with Loraine Kennedy; “Appraisals” with Jenny Johnson; “Peer Observations” with Andy Hockley; and “Revitalising Coasting Teachers” with Josh Round. All those recordings can be accessed from the LAMSIG webinar page.

Conferences or other similar events: LAMSIG partners in a number of conferences – either one-offs or with partners in annual events.  In recent years we have held or been involved in events in Barcelona, Brighton, Abu Dhabi, London, and most recently Dublin. In early 2016 we will be partnering with International House Barcelona in their annual conference in February, and hopefully with PASE, Poland, in their conference in Warsaw in May.

Newsletter: LAMSIG members receive two print newsletters and one online e-bulletin per year, with articles and advice written by managers all over the world. This is a great resource for those managing in ELT and the only one of its kind. 

Articles: Selected articles from old newsletters are freely available on the LAMSIG website, a resource which many managers make great use of.

Online Community: As well as the website and the various resources contained therein, we have a very active Facebook page, on which interesting and relevant articles are regularly posted, a twitter account which also connects ELT managers around the world, and a LinkedIn group for academic managers.

As you can see, as an academic manager you are far from alone. Check out the LAMSIG website, see what we can offer you, and how you can become part of a global community of practice. Join LAMSIG - and get discounts on events and receive the newsletters. And, if there is something we could offer but we are not doing, let us know and we will see what we can do. Finally – get involved. As with everything the more you put into something the more you will tend to get out of it. You have lots to offer to our community too, and we’d love to get your input, participation and contributions.

About the author

Andy Hockley is a freelance educational management consultant and teacher trainer based in deepest Transylvania. After 11 years of teaching English worldwide, he completed an MA in International and Intercultural Management in the USA. He has been training (both teachers and managers) for over 15 years and has been coordinating and training on the IDLTM (International Diploma in Language Teaching Management) since its inception in 2001. He is co-author of 'From Teacher to Manager' (CUP, 2008), 'Managing Education in the Digital Age' (The Round, 2014) and author of 'Educational Management' (Polirom, 2007). He is also the co-ordinator of the IATEFL Leadership and Management Special Interest Group (LAMSIG).


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