The end of the school year tends to find school owners and teachers wishing for only one thing: peace and quietness, preferably away from the school.
Although it is perfectly natural to feel physically and emotionally drained, locking up the school at the beginning of June and coming back in September does not work out anymore.
Nowadays, the ‘’dead’’ summer months, ought to be nothing but dead.
Looking back The end of the school year is the time to work on what we have done. We owe it to ourselves to sit down and reflect on what the school year has brought and what it has taken away.
First of all, the school owner has to meet members of staff, both as a team and one to one to discuss a variety of issues which are related not only with how we will avoid repeating the mistakes of the past but also with goal setting.
Secondly, this is the time to see what our clients have said about us. Some school owners are in the habit of giving questionnaires to parents. Some others fear what the questionnaires will show, so they prefer not to ask.
Personally, I disagree with the latter. It’s like saying it’s safer not having blood tests in case they show something alarming. The earlier we spot our clients’ complaints, the sooner we can take measures to rectify them, before our competitors get wind of them and shape their marketing policy around our weaknesses.
Another problem with in-school surveys is what happens to them after they’ve been completed. I have seen many of them accumulating dust or filling closets but unless someone spends time decoding and interpreting the results, the whole venture and whatever kind of cost it entails are wasted.
The month of June should be entirely devoted to planning our next academic year. In order to do that school owners need first ‘’study’’ the evidence they have and estimate their needs in human resources. If more teachers are needed, this is the time to start looking.
The hiring procedure, if meticulously done, is time consuming but guarantees results. On the other hand, if the school owner knows that fewer teachers will be needed, this is the time to let people know that they will be jobless in September.
School owners should not wait until September, to break the sad news to the staff members that won’t be re-employed. This is yet another reason why face to face meetings are necessary at this time of the year.
During the times of austerity our country is going through, we will all fair better if we are honest. Therefore, school owners ought to give an estimate of ‘’best’’ and ‘’worst’’ case scenario to their staff, so that there are no last minute announcements which might cause the next school year to start on the wrong food.
The same, of course, goes for the teachers as well. Those who would like to leave, should say so in May-June. Usually, though, people say nothing unless they are asked straightforwardly. Hence, one more reason for one to one meetings.
During the month of May a lot happens at our schools in the form of public events. As mentioned in the December article, these are all costly projects. Unless they are properly promoted, it’s as if never happened.
Therefore, one more thing that must be done during this ‘’dead’’ period is to plan the promotion of the school events that happened during the previous academic year.
It is also a good time to consider the kind of marketing and advertising for the busy month of September. For those who understand the market, the earlier one starts advertising the better share of the market s/he will get.
I saved the best for last on purpose. During the hard times our country is going through, school owners cannot afford not to pre-register students.
Pre-registration can be organised in such a way that parents do not feel that it burdens their finances and it gives the school owner an estimate of the sales for the coming year, depending of course on how efficiently pre-registration has been set up and what ‘’benefits’’ have been offered.
Although summer classes have not been doing well in the last few years, perhaps now it would be a good time to revisit them. The reason for this is that more and more families will not go away for the entire summer, while at the same time they will want some sort of ‘’project’’ for their child to be involved in.
What we should bear in mind, though, is not to burden those small sized classes with exorbitant tuition fees and also to figure out if the remaining group of students, who will continue in the next class in September, can form a profit-making group.
Hoping that the summer group will ‘’pay’’ for the losses of the winter one, is unfortunately a recipe for disaster. Finally, before pre-registration or summer courses we should all look at our discount policy.
Now more than ever school owners need to become strong and assertive businesspeople. It is not fair to devise a discount policy that varies from parent to parent nor is it fair to have a sound one and neglect to apply it.
Money! Money! Money! I would like to believe that school owners have collected the money owed to them but I am afraid this is too idealistic. So, in case there are unsettled accounts, school owners ought to make sure that the debtors are approached and a deal is made, before the first heat wave hits our country. Once people start going swimming, other more pressing expenses take priority.
Asking for money that is owed to us is one of the most demanding and soul-wrecking tasks. The rule of the thumb is perseverance. Unless we keep calling, emailing, texting or communicating in some form with our debtors, we do not stand a chance.
It’s true that they usually change phone numbers or stop picking up the phone, but in the off chance they do pick up, the person who represents the school, should be assertive, never rude or disrespectful.
The aim of that person should be to get a definite date (not I hope in the year 2025) for the parent to come to the school and either settle the account or make a new deal.
May and June are not easy months but let us take heart in that July and August are ahead, with sandy beaches and our gorgeous, Greek seas always there to fill our souls. Meanwhile, there will be more on how to take advantage of our summer months in next month’s issue.
Maria Sachpazian BA education / RSA dip/tefl (hons) is an ELF teacher employed at the Straight Up Markoyannopoulou schools. She is also an educational management specialist who has worked as a teacher trainer and materials’ developer. Maria and her associates George Moumoulidis and Konstantinos Koutovas run Input on Education, a company which provides academic support and consultancy to Foreign Language Schools. www.input.edu.gr