Simple English ~ Nicola Prentis

Thoughts on ELT, English and whatever else comes into my head

Summer [school] is here!

Well, not for me for the first time in six years. I might have managed a fair bit since having a baby — speaking at IATEFL and getting called fame-hungry for it by a load of misogynists, finishing off a Graded Reader for Black Cat (best one yet) and writing a teacher’s book for Macmillan — but running a residential summer school is way more than I can handle. Apparently, people go on holiday at this time of year so I’m doing that instead.

However, I can’t help noticing that global mass is re-distributing around the south coast of England as TEFL-ers and students descend.

And I’ve a few posts that deserve a seasonal airing.

Applying for summer school

Everyone involved would appreciate it if applicants accept jobs and then actually turn up. It’s kind of implied in that email that includes accepting the offer of employment. Your granny will be much more proud of you for seeing the job through than for thinking of an excuse for dropping out that calls on her to faux-die and have an imaginary funeral.

Summer school – the unluckiest time of the year

It seems that June and July are dangerous times. Just as you’re about to start the job you’ve accepted and signed a contract for, up to 25% of you will be struck down by a “grave medical condition” or “serious health problem” or will just have that mysterious affliction of “personal reasons” that will prevent you from working for the entire summer.

Even worse, many of you will lose a family member and have to attend their funeral on exactly the same dates as induction and you’ll be so devastated you won’t consider maybe starting work and taking your mind off the tragedy …carry on reading

Are you cut out for management?

This section could just as easily be retitled: Are you an idiot with no leadership or organisational skills? A surprisingly high number of people don’t recognise themselves as needing to tick ‘yes’ in that box. If you’re not sure, here’s a little test based on a real life summer car crash I saw.

There are two schools using the same books. Last year, School A had two classes on that book and School B had one class. This year, the numbers are reversed so School B needs one set of School A’s books. If you’re School B do you:

a) get on the phone and email and make sure you have organised collection/drop off of the books you need in time for when you need them?

b) do nothing?

Now, that was the easy question, though not everyone can manage it. The trickier part is for School A. You have the books, do you:

a) drop off just the set the other school needs and call them to confirm what you’ve done?

b) arrange the drop off (when repeatedly hassled to do it) of both sets of books thereby leaving your teacher with no books?

If you can only answer A’s in an interview but not apply that bit in your head where thinking comes from, you’re best off not burrowing up from the primeval sludge and trying to be a DOS. Likewise if you can’t manage these things:

Thinking of ADOS/DOS/Senior teacher roles?

Being computer literate: Computer literate managers are not limited to being able to find the on button and using hotmail. If you can’t cut and paste cells in Excel or attach documents to emails in Outlook or have heart failure every time you click on another open programme because you think your document has vanished, the job is going to stress you out …carry on reading.

Doing the job

Forgotten what’s in store? Well A-H includes feces and gossip, I-Q includes parents and R-Z covers venomous children. But don’t let me put you off. I’m just jealous because I’m not going yet feces will still figure predominantly in my summer. No-one’s paying me to change nappies either**.

The alternative universe of Summer School

Summer School is its own little universe with a distinct set of laws governing reality that make re-entry to the Other Real World a simultaneously yearned for and feared event …carry on reading.

Reflecting on it

If you ended up at a crap school, here are some reasons why:

What summer schools get wrong

Summer School is an immense undertaking. An entire functioning school, which usually has to be up and running in 24 hours, that combines Academic, Activities and Residential programs, often run by people new into the company or job role, and then made to disappear overnight once the last students go home.

It’s a wonder there are so many that make a success of it, excelling at their British Council inspections and achieving commendation by the ever watchful EL Gazette. It’s also not surprising so many mistakes are made – even by the good ones … carry on reading.

Despite the lateness of the month, it’s not too late to apply. A load of people likely dropped out today.

** Actually nappy changing is fine and my baby’s smell of fresh dough. They do, honestly!





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This entry was posted on June 24, 2015 by in Summer School and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .
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