Working as an ESL director of studies

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The post of director of studies (DoS) is one of the most prestigious and demanding posts in ESL teaching.

The DoS is the ‘keystone’ of an ESL educational institution, and how well the educational institution functions strongly depends on the abilities of the DoS. For the novice ESL teacher who would aspire to become a DoS, here are some of the principal duties and responsibilities that would fall within your remit.

  1. To deputize for the deputy headmaster/principal or headmaster/principal in their absence.
  2. To assist the headmaster/principal in management matters.
  3. To actively engage in the maintenance of discipline and good conduct.
  4. To participate in the interviewing of candidates for ESL teaching posts.
  5. To take responsibility for all aspects of the curriculum associated with its planning, development, delivery, assessment, monitoring, and budgeting. This is the most onerous duty that the DoS has to undertake.
  6. To take responsibility for all aspects of the management, performance, and development of the ESL teaching staff in accordance with specified academic objectives and goals. To this end, the DoS is required to provide the appropriate training where necessary and to monitor and review ESL staff performance. This would also include teacher induction training for novice ESL teachers, and regular teachers’ ‘professional development’ conferences.
  7. To set, monitor, and manage a school homework policy.
  8. To organize and administer parents’ meetings and parents’ evenings.
  9. To advise parents and ESL students on ESL curriculum options.
  10. To participate in the production of a school timetable.
  11. To ensure that ESL teaching workloads are fairly allocated.
  12. To organize extracurricular activities.
  13. To liaise with external ESL examination bodies.
  14. To manage ESL staff and material resources.

It would not be an understatement to say that the responsibilities and duties a DoS can be best summed up in one word – everything. If you are interested in becoming a DoS, here are a few qualities that you have definitely got to have if you want to succeed in this post: confidence, organizational skills, ‘people skills’, and problem-solving skills. You will have to show your ESL colleagues that you are confident and that you have the necessary organizational skills when it comes to the planning, development, delivery, assessment, monitoring, and budgeting of all aspects of both the school curriculum and staff management. You will have to have well developed ‘people skills’ so that when you have to make unpopular decisions – you don’t end up alienating affected members of staff. Finally, you have got to be able to deal with problems, and unforeseen difficulties; this is where you will need good problem-solving skills, which means that you have to be knowledgeable and resourceful.

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