In my last post/video, I shared my grievances and negative experiences with an online English company, iTutorGroup. However, in this post, I would like to consider what is required to make English teachers happy – whether they are teaching remotely or within a physical school.
In this post, I outline three points which will improve the happiness of all teachers and is reaction to a TED Talk that I had watched a few days previously.
Idea 1: Respect and Trust
The first idea that Michael Bush suggests which would improve overall staff happiness would be respect and trust for employees. Within the English teaching industry, respect needs to gained towards practitioners that have invested their own money and time towards achieving qualifications, continued their professional development as well as the experience that individuals develop over time while teaching a range of students. One such example that (online) language schools could demonstrate their respect to teachers is by offering a remuneration which is comparable to the qualifications and experience that they could offer and an open dialogue needs to occur.
Michael Bush also highlights the fact that within ‘trust’, that employees should feel that they know best and that organisations/companies should support their employees, or teachers in this case, to decide what is best for their customers. Furthermore, with regards to organisations which are not based in the home country of the language teacher, or if an online English company is recruiting teachers outside of their territory, then these organisations must place trust within these remote teachers rather than micro-managing these online English teachers. Experienced and suitably qualified (online) English teachers will know best on how to teach, how to support their learners and what method works best for their students. Thus, the likes of iTutorGroup or other online-based educators should trust and support their teachers.
Idea 2: Fairness
The second idea that Michael Bush highlights as an area to improve employee happiness is associated with ‘fairness’. Fairness needs to applied regardless the rank of the employee or the length of service. All (online) English teachers should be treated fairly when working for an online educational organisation. Unfortunately, the scheduling of some online educational institutes abroad prefer less expensive tutors and reduce the scheduling of teachers that are more costly – irrespective of the student’s expectation as all students pay the same regardless of the teacher. This is wholly unfair and teachers need to be scheduled fairly and an open dialogue needs to occur between the company and the teacher.
As we have seen with how iTutorGroup offer updated contracts to online teachers, regardless their qualifications or length of service, with a pay decrease and unethically reducing scheduled classes if the contract update is not signed, is unfair for all employed on a freelance basis with this company. So greater transparency regarding rates of remuneration needs to be available for all online teachers.
Idea 3: Listening
The final idea that Michael Bush suggests in his TED Talk to improve overall employee happiness is the act of listening. Organisations need to listen to their employees with areas of their business. If language schools listen to their staff, students or other stakeholders, then it would help them improve where it is required.
Unfortunately, now iTutorGroup has decided to reduce the opportunity for teachers to communicate with company representatives (by making administration staff redundant), with more reliance by the company to develop AI technology to deal with their remote teachers. This does not help teachers solve technical issues, raise student issues or the like. Thus, the supporting of teachers when an issue arises is not being dealt with in a fair and appropriate manner. It tacitly suggests that any issues are all due to the teacher’s incompetence. Online language providers need to open channels of communication with their teachers, students and support them when things need improving rather than blaming certain individuals when things go wrong.
What would make you happy if you were teaching for a language school or educational provider, remotely or not? Are there any experiences where some of the ideas suggested by Michael Bush has decreased staff happiness with previous employers?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.