1. When hiring teachers, look for personality as much as qualifications. Teenagers need teachers who can teach, entertain and be firm when necessary.
2. Remember to create a team who will take care of the pastoral side as well as teaching. You need responsible adults on the entertainment team (sports, outings, etc) as well as an admin team who will take students to the doctors, etc. when necessary. Remember to check out arrangements with your local surgery for emergency appointments.
3. Have a system in place for gaining parental permission for activities such as excursions and discos. Make necessary health and safety arrangements. Ensure that a no alcohol policy is firmly in place.
4. Excursions should be arranged well in advance. Make sure parents are well aware of extra costs for admission to adventure parks, stately homes, etc. Make coach bookings and confirm them nearer the time.
5. Keep the days well balanced between teaching and fun activities. Arrange sports such as football matches and other activities like beauty contests. Mix it up sometimes: football matches for the girls and beauty contests for the boys. Hire a karaoke machine and hold regular karaoke nights.
6. When planning the syllabus, have clearly defined goals. Put the emphasis on speaking and listening skills and incorporate lots of drama, roleplay and simulations. Have a long term project such as an evening's drama production or a magazine as the focus at the end of the course.
7. Set up an easy to use record system and make sure teachers use it. You will need it in case of teacher absence and it will be a valuable tool if you run the course again in future years.
8. Where possible, have teachers in reserve. Almost certainly, at least one of the teachers you have hired will not turn up at the beginning of the course. Also, a teacher may prove not to be up to the job. Put them on to the entertainment or admin team and bring in the new teacher.
9. Ensure you have sufficient control over the budget to invest in small items of stationery that were not bought initially and 'delighters' that the students don't expect such as ice creams all round on a trip to the seaside. Always aim to exceed the students' expectations.
10. Most importantly, look after yourself. During a summer course you will be on duty more or less 24 hours a day. Eat regularly and don't let yourself get sucked in to extra teaching duties for teachers who are ill. Make sure the summer is as enjoyable for you as for everyone else.
By Emma Headley
Emma Headley has been involved in many aspects of TEFL since 1988, both abroad and at universities in the UK. She is currently a lecturer at the University of Abertay, Dundee, where she specialises in teacher training and EAP.
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