From teacher to manager…the first year


The step from teaching staff to management can be a traumatic one. We rarely get any training or support but are merely plucked from the ranks of foot soldiers and elevated to our new lofty position where we are expected to suddenly, instantaneously develop a whole raft of new skills and a totally different mindset.

As a teacher we encounter many issues. Classroom management, disciplinary issues, creative lesson planning and staging, encouraging engagement and student motivation; the list seems to be endless. However my biggest surprise upon becoming Academic Manager of a new language college in Brisbanewas the wealth of things to focus on outside the classroom!

I have been working in a management capacity for just over a year. Like many people I started working at summer schools and on a voluntary basis after my initial teaching qualification, then moved on to teaching ESOL in a government college. I taught refugees, asylum seekers and international students both in classes and one-to-one, did teacher training and volunteered teaching EFL in Kashmir, Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake. When I emigrated fromEngland to Australia I was employed in an ELICOS college as a DoS on the basis of my qualifications rather than experience; and had to learn my new role on the run! I was never on speaking terms with Excel before but now we are very distant cousins and send Christmas cards annually.

For me the one of the most challenging things has been the shift in both my perspective towards the LTO and my erstwhile colleagues’ changing perspective towards me. However, other challenges have reared their ugly heads and eyeballed me, muttering about how I’d better get this right, this time, no excuses…

  • Being younger than many of my teaching staff by a few decades;
  • Having little experience of managing a budget (except those heady university days when drinking at the uni bar rather than having dinner counted as budgeting);
  • Sudden expectations to be the font of all knowledge for everything from grammar to free English class providers to the distance from Goondiwindi (obscureQueenslandoutback town)  toBrisbane;
  • Responsibility for teacher development, management and discipline (discipline? Who, me?)
  • Keeping a firm thumb on the pulse (nothing like mixing your metaphors!) of technology and cascading to team members;
  • Keeping up to date with constantly changing industry terminology!

Over the next month, I’ll be blogging about several obstacles which I have found necessary to overcome, and hopefully offer a few new, innovative or at least amusing ways to avoid total mental breakdown and maintain a semblance of dignity. I will also be touching on areas which I believe make me a more rounded teacher and manager, and which may be of interest to others:

Monday 8th October: Installing a creativity app in teachers – Some practical ways to encourage creativity in the staffroom and classroom

Monday 15th October: CPD. What the…? An exploration of Continuing Professional Development and how you can get it

Monday 22nd October: UK vs OZ… same same or different? The differences between teaching ESOL inEngland and ELICOS inAustralia

Monday 29th October: From teacher to manager to conference speaker – Tinker, tailor, soldier, jack-of-all-trades

Any comments, queries or requests (I’m a bit like a genie – if you can get close enough and rub my head I’ll erupt into smoke and grant 3 wishes…) please feel free to contact me on


CPD – Continual Professional Development

DoS – Director of Studies

EFL – English as a Foreign Language

ELICOS (often shortened to ELI) – English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students

ESOL – English for Speakers of Other Languages

LTOLanguage Training Organisation





If you would like to read more in the ‘From teacher to manager…’ series, please follow the links below:

Installing a creativity app in teachers

CPD. What the…?

UK vs. Oz… Same same or different?

From teacher to manager to conference speaker

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