Do I sack this teacher?

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Do I sack this teacher?

Unread post by Julie »

I've recently been given a managerial position in a school in Jakarta and it's my first such position. I'm really enjoying the work ... until now. We have a teacher who's been working here for quite a while but I really think he is just going through the motions at this stage. I'm trying to help him and he says all the right things in our discussions, but when I monitored his class yesterday it was basically the same as before ... much too much TTT and much too little STT. So I've decided to let him go, but he's not a young man any more and I'm concerned for his welfare if he loses this job. I'm sure you can see my dilemma here. Any suugestions would be most welcome!

Thank you in advance.

Why would fire him just like that?

Unread post by ESLteacher »

There must be more to this story, it sounds like you are being awfully quick to get rid of him. Do you not like him?


Unread post by Duck »

Why do you want to sack him just for too much TTT? Don't you realize that students learn passively from listening too? While listening they pick up, for example, intonation. I don't think you are telling the whole story. Maybe you have a personality clash with this particular teacher.

Re: Hmmmm

Unread post by Duck2 »

Duck wrote:Don't you realize that students learn passively from listening too?
Yes, we all need to listen/hear the language we are learning, but we don't need to pay teachers for it. Did you never hear of TV, radio, songs etc, not to mention general conversation with native-speaking friends etc?

Let me teach you the piano by listening to me play

Unread post by Beethoven »

If I were to teach English I can't imagine how my students would learn to speak just by listening to me. When I teach the piano I expect my students to play the instrument rather than just listen to me playing. Surely learning a language is learning a skill which must be practised, like learning a musical instrument. Imagine how absurd it would be if the piano teacher did nothing but play the piano to his students for an hour. :roll:

passive learning

Unread post by duck »

In some countries students do not have access to native speakers. In such countries the grammar-translation method still dominates. Emphasis is placed on reading and writing, rather on listening and speaking. This method is still popular in Europe, especially in Eastern Europe, where English is just another academic discipline.

If a teacher regularly tells his/her students anecdotes and stories for enjoyment, students will pick up a lot passively. Try it. Tell your students an interesting story just for fun. In the next lesson ask your students how much they remember. Not only will they remember the plot, but they will also retell it more or less with the same vocabulary and grammatical structures.

Maybe the issue of too much TTT is probably about the teacher chatting too much because he/she may not have prepared for the lesson. But hang on, isn't small talk good practice? The most perceptive student will pick up a lot of language.

Maybe some teachers should stop looking at their students as empty barrels waiting to be filled with information about grammar etc. Students come to the lesson usually with knowledge of two or more foreign languages, life experience etc.

And anyway, did your parents give you formal English tuition as a toddler so that you could speak English? No, your parents talked to you and you just babbled back and you probably made loads of grammatical errors as well.

I have a 13 year student who picked up English from MTV, CNN, Cartoon Network and rap music. Lots of students pick up language in this manner. Likewise, students can also pick up language from a native teacher.
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Check first

Unread post by Barney »

I think before you fire someone for high teacher talk you need to check a few things. How happy are the students with this teacher and is their evidence of their feelings in writing, e.g through written feedback?

Have you set the teacher achievable and measurable goals? For example, he shoudl demonstrate the abilty to plan and carry out a lesson where 70% of the interaction is student focussed?

Can you give or arrange an input session on methods to increase student participation? sometimes the thoery is difficult to put into practice without some examples.
Alex Case
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Unread post by Alex Case »

A little chat once in a while is not going to have an effect in any kind of business.It might be too late for this teacher, but what you need to do is set up a whole school system that means teachers teach the kind of lessons you want:
- Make sure that during the interview the questions you ask find out how they teach, not just what kind of qualifications and experience they have. Ditto with the application form.
- Ask teachers to teach a demo lesson before employing them. If they can't teach a real class, ask a non-native member of staff to take the place of the student or just ask them to stand up at the front of the class and talk you through what they might do
- Have a written teachers' manual with any points you think are vital written down
- Don't just tell your teachers how classes should be taught, make sure they see classes being taught that way. This could be showing them a video (with a worksheet to make sure they are looking for the right things), peer observations (ditto) or you teaching one of their classes and them watching you do it (ditto). Many teacher training books now have DVDs at the back you can use, e.g. the new edition of the Practice of Language Teaching, Harmer.
- Have regular teacher training, observations and one to one progress meetings with teachers
- Offer information and/ or funding for outside teaching
- Have a library of books and magazines about teaching
- Have the pay, conditions and chances for career progress that attract good teachers, for example offering teachers the chance to get involved in teacher training or to take on more responsibilities as a way into a management job
Rising Star
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Unread post by Kootvela »

Alex Case wrote: - Have the pay, conditions and chances for career progress that attract good teachers, for example offering teachers the chance to get involved in teacher training or to take on more responsibilities as a way into a management job
Though money is not the main reason, it is a good advice. There should be difference in pay among teachers for the levels taught, paperwork to be done (with in-companies), travelling time, experience, years taught at the place, etc. Then motivated teachers work and backpackers leave.
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Re: Do I sack this teacher?

Unread post by chrisw »

This seems like a pretty easy thing to do. Train him. Get a one of your pros in there and really do some direct observations. Whenever he starts talking too much, hold a red flag. I've worked with some of the least talented teachers (maybe in the world) If you are aggressive with your training methods, they will improve.
Chris Westergaard
The Language House
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Re: Do I sack this teacher?

Unread post by Sadebugo »

I would not fire this teacher. In our profession, there are very few instructors who meet our ideal of what a good teacher should be. I work at probably what would be considered the pinnacle of the EFL profession and we still have instructors who do not meet this ideal.

There are practical reasons not to overreact as well. In Indonesia, how easily would it be to replace this teacher? I assume the salary isn't that great. Would the replacement be any better? If we let everyone go who wasn't perfect in the classroom, all the schools would shut down!

I think the better approach would be to continue to mentor him and help him improve. That would also validate you as an effective manager.

Hope this helps,

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Re: Do I sack this teacher?

Unread post by TESOLRulz »

Hi Julie,

Do you have a Professional Development program in place? Regular training will often see these things improve. It has the added bonus of giving you data to back your decisions if you decide to let a teacher go. I.e. you can prove that you've done everything you can to help the teacher to do what you want over a period of time.

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Re: Do I sack this teacher?

Unread post by Awalls86 »

There are many factors to take into account when deciding whether to let someone go. You say this guy has worked there for some time, so do you know your legal position? You may need to tread carefully with longer serving employees.
Secondly, is it going to be easier to train this teacher or recruit a new teacher (and can you be sure that the new teacher will not have this problem)? It is probably easier to train, and if he has a good rapport with students then surely it is better to keep him.
You say he is going through the motions. So he is somewhat demotivated. Perhaps he needs a break or something to motivate him. Perhaps some extra responsibility would help him to focus on his development too. You could ask him to give a workshop on the problem area - and suggest it is an area where all the team can improve.
Ultimately though this is a good opportunity to strengthen any processes you have for reviewing performance, providing feedback and developing teachers.
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