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From Teacher to Manager

Ron White. Andy Hockley, Julie van der Horst Jansen and Melissa S. Laughner
Cambridge University Press, 2008
288 pages
ISBN: 978-0-521-70909-5

It is an unfortunate fact of ELT life that many teachers move into management positions on the grounds of excellence as teachers, experience, or simply because they no longer wish to teach. Whatever the reasons, the results are often seen in mutual criticism and dissatisfaction between teachers and management, and, sadly, an unhealthy teaching and learning environment far removed from the modern concept of the ‘learning institution’. Teachers do not necessarily make good managers, and while good managers were not necessarily good teachers, teachers aspiring to management status are rarely provided with the skills and training required to make the transition.

From Teacher to Manager is, in many ways, the successor to Management in ELT, a previous CUP publication, and an updated attempt to provide an accessible handbook for managers of language teaching organizations. The book is aimed at practising Directors and Assistant Directors of Studies, Academic Directors and Co-coordinators, school principals and owners, as well as those moving into a management role from teaching or administrative positions.

The book certainly covers the main areas of management by considering what factors make a language teaching organization effective and dealing with each of these in turn. Thus, chapters are devoted to topics ranging from strategic and operational financial management and sales and marketing to customer service and academic and human resources management. There is a balanced consideration of the institution, managers, customers and employees. Each chapter is broken down into topic-related components. The chapter devoted to human resource management, for example, is sub-divided into staffing, motivation, performance management, delegating, conflict management and negotiation. However From Teacher to Manager is far from being purely a reference book or manual, since the key management processes are well linked and integrated, and supplemented by brief case studies and vignettes taken from real life management situations.

The authors offer a reflective approach to the reader. The case studies and vignettes help to make the theoretical base of each chapter understandable and recognisable whilst drawing parallels to the reader’s own experience, offering alternative ideas and solutions, and adding personalisation and colour to what might otherwise be dry subject matter. Each chapter also includes tasks which encourage readers to relate decontextualised content to their own organizations and which might help to identify areas for improvement or potential training needs. These reflective tasks would be particularly useful in promoting discussion in group training situations or to supplement material for training courses such as the Cambridge ESOL International Diploma in Language Teaching Management (IDLTM).

Much current ELT management is reactive rather than predictive, and inefficient crisis management may be more prevalent than longer term planning and development. Under these circumstances, teachers and managers are likely to be primarily concerned about their immediate working conditions and may therefore view the suggestions and advice given in this book as idealistic. However, one major reason for recommending this book is that the approach is pragmatic. The authors recognize that good management requires both knowledge and skills, and both are dealt with. Similarly, generalization is avoided through the use of tasks, case studies and vignettes, and a balance is achieved between the generic and the specific. Awareness of the ever increasing demands on the time of a working manager and limited opportunities for lengthy periods of study is demonstrated by the sensible arrangement and readability of the book. Overall, the book presents an effective argument in favour of the close relationship between good management and successful business, while the whole approach is consistent with current trends towards job-specific training and the growing acceptance of lifelong learning in continuous professional development.

White, R.V., Martin, M., Stimson M. and Hodge, R. Management in English Language Teaching, CUP, 1991

MET 19:1 January 2010