Running an online school - Part 5

This time I will talk about what you need to do after the interview process, the vital need to prepare your new teachers extra well and the difference between online and physical schools.

The post interview process

Again I should state that this is the benefit of my experience, based on a huge amount of interviews I have conducted or been part of, there is also plenty of advice from other professionals on this site to guide you through the interview and post interview process.

Get the obvious things right

First, the basics. Send a communication to the successful applicant and make sure they have accepted before sending out rejection letters. This way, if the successful candidate decides against you can offer the job to the next best and so on. This is a vital point, you don’t want to have to ask someone you have rejected to work for you. And you also do not want to go back to square one.

Create work and lesson templates

Prepare the ground as much as possible for the new worker. I am a strong believer in creating a work template that is as comprehensive as possible. Write down every task, every solution to a problem, every aspect of guidance that you can. Get into the habit of writing down everything you deal with and decide if the new person may also have to deal with them. This way you know that things can be done your way and the new employee will be clear as to your expectations. Templates are laborious to put together but so useful as they can be added to, or parts deleted, at any time. They become the bedrock of how you want the company to operate, how your brand is perceived, and instill confidence in staff. They truly save you time as you become better able to cope with anything that is thrown at you.

So, also, get all new staff to prepare their own template. Ask them to add anything they feel useful as time goes on. You will need to approve all additions, of course. A good template is a bit like having a PowerPoint display with you when giving a presentation, even if you have given the presentation many times, it is a great comfort to have it there for guidance.

I should mention at this point, the wonderful Vedamo Virtual Classroom, which allows you to create lesson templates which put everything at your disposal for your lessons – video files, sound bites, text or pdf docs, etc., – and which you should also use to build up your collection of helpful templates to deliver consistent teaching.

From the very start, you need to be conscious of your brand, what you wish to deliver, and how you want people to perceive you. A professional approach always pays dividends.

Online is hugely different from physical

What I want you to take from this is that online, you have to try to eliminate chance from the equation. This may be your first employee but they have got to be right. Get it wrong and the negativity from the web could destroy you. So have a work template and lesson templates ready to go. Make sure they know what you want and how to do it. Using Vedamo means you have a readymade software solution at your fingertips. They will train your teachers in the software but you will have to train them as to how you want them to apply your principles. They must also buy in to what you are trying to achieve. You do not have the power of the big schools but you can care more, put more effort in, and give a unique service they cannot provide.

Bring your new employees onboard

In short, you need to sit down with your new staff. Explain that the web is a viral institution, which has the power to make or break you in a way that a physical school doesn’t. By this I mean that a bricks and mortar school is in an area. It is convenient for those that live or work nearby. This factor means that people may overlook certain faults because of this convenience. This will not happen online. They can switch in a heartbeat. If you provide a top class service at reasonable prices you make it that bit harder to jump ship. You can only do that if the teachers are dedicated, skillful and know exactly what they are doing online. Be sure that they can operate online. Give them safe trial runs with friends or colleagues. It is super important that you train them right. Never throw them in at the deep end.

Prepare them extra well

On this point, I once worked for a big international chain of language schools in a capital city and the boss there thought nothing of throwing rookies into classes. He would say there are the textbooks, go and teach. Sometimes it was a disaster, sometimes the teacher would find a way but always they would learn, or sink, on the job. It was painful to watch someone drowning. You do not have this luxury. Preparation is the key online. Get all the help you can from the software company, give your new staff all the support you can but don’t take any gambles that they go online and ruin your school before it has truly started.

Next time I will move on to paying staff and the problems therein, and I am well aware that this needs to be decided before hiring staff, however, logistically, I felt that going through the hiring process first made more sense than talking about salaries and payments for non-existing staff.

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Gus Worth is a highly experienced writer and educator having worked in universities for nearly 20 years and being first published at the age of six. Currently in the English department of the American University in Bulgaria, he also writes extensively for the web and in print for many companies. He has a particular love of online teaching and enjoys helping teachers take their first steps in the exciting world of the future where you can connect with, and help students develop, all over the planet.
VEDAMO Virtual Classroom
For the past nine years we have been providing a platform purpose-built for education.
VEDAMO Virtual Classroom
For the past nine years we have been providing a platform purpose-built for education.