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Running a School: Systems, Part 2

As mentioned last time, it is essential to be able to step outside of your business. This is very difficult to do while still doing every single job in it.

 

We’ve also previously discussed what business you are actually in.

 

You may be running an English school. You may be selling crêpes. Either way, your product is neither learning English, nor eating food.

 

Anybody can learn English or sate their appetite anywhere. The Internet exists; there are hundreds of thousands of schools and teachers worldwide. Why would anyone come to you? It’s the same question if you’re selling crêpes.

 

Your business is not your product. Your business is the business itself.

 

Debates over approaches to life, learning and education (and food) have raged since the days of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. They’ll doubtless continue from those peripatetic times and reach out forever into the future. There will never be one single right answer.

 

Not having seen any recent media announcements, I am unaware of who currently holds the title Best Teacher in the World.

 

If you’re the main or only teacher in the school you own and operate, and you got there because you think your way is the right way, or you are the only one that can give your students the best learning opportunities, and are happy to stay that way, please stop reading now. My blog is of no use to you.

 

If you wish to improve your business and/or replace yourself and/or expand, please continue reading.

 

You need to work on, not in, your business to improve it.

 

To be able to systemise your business you need to be able to understand it and map out how it functions.

 

Sit down and draw an organisation chart and a flowchart. They should tell you what needs to be done, and who needs to do it.

 

You can then break all of these tasks down into trainable systems.

 

Everything is trainable.

 

We only need people to operate the systems.

 

The systems need to be monitored to make sure they are running properly and the people are operating them. Everything should happen as explained and expected.

 

The systems maybe logical, physical or a combination of both.

 

To give an example, we have a whiteboard system in our schools that fits into the adults curriculum and is used as part of our CRM and sales systems.

 

During training, teachers are shown which areas of the whiteboard to use for what, and how this relates to other parts of the organisation.

 

They are then trained in a system to check with students before clearing certain, but crucially not other, areas of the whiteboard, and finally to completely clear the whiteboard at the end of the lesson and leave the eraser in the tray.

 

As part of the end of the day routine, we take that day’s eraser from the whiteboard tray, clean the tray, take the eraser to the sink, clean it with old toothbrushes recycled for that purpose, put it in its position to dry, and replace it in the cleaned tray with the dried eraser from the previous day.

 

Each teacher uses the classroom for the first time the next day with a clean whiteboard, eraser and tray.

 

Students have written down new things they learned in the lined pages in the textbooks with spaces pre-provided for notes, new phrases and new words. This will have happened spontaneously, and/or been checked for and instructed at the ‘ask permission’ stage.

 

Staff have this (and other) knowledge to use to close sales and counsel students.

 

This apparently simple use of the whiteboard operates as part of other curriculum, teaching, CRM, reporting and sales systems.

 

All of this is held together in our mission statement, organisation chart, job descriptions, operations manuals, regular scheduled tasks, MOs, CMR (and more).

 

These are extensive and cover every single aspect of operations.

 

Of course, there are other ongoing systems to ensure our current operations meet our goals.

 

This isn’t equivalent to the amount of work and time involved to bring me my daily coffee, but is the result of a huge amount of work.

 

Daunting, in fact, I’d say, and achieved over the last 20 years with contributions from lots of staff.

 

Knowing what I know now, I’m not sure I’d do it all over again.

 

Next time we’ll look at a simple process to get you started.

 

 

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