Back when I was working at Modawei, they wrote up this little summary about me. That way potential clients could learn something about me before seeing me in action. They framed it nicely on the wall, and then put it up on a snazzy (over-snazzy, one might say), website. I’ll get back to this in a couple paragraphs.
Lot’s of things at Modawei were snazzy. People there commonly wore full suits to teach ESL to 3rd graders. During training, management continually stressed the importance of presentation. Most of the teachers were taller and good-looking. When the students did oral tests in class, they came to the front of the class and lined up in fours. It looked slick. First Step isn’t like that. We don’t dress like slobs, but lets just say I don’t wear a tie to work anymore. When our students do oral tests in class, they stand up where they are and start asking and answering questions. Ron doesn’t want to waste the 30 seconds it would take each group to get to the front of the class. That would waste class time that could have been spent listening to and speaking English. A bit fanatical? Yes. His heart’s in the right place, though. Unlike every single other school at which I’ve worked, none of the questions they ask are memorized. That means the kids look bad sometimes. But it’s also good for their English to learn how to understand new sentences they’ve never heard before instead of leaning on memorization at the low levels.
Remember that website where I said Modawei has snazzy teacher introductions? Well, at my current school, I’ve got a couple of paragraphs printed out on a yellow piece of paper and tacked on the wall. Very minimalist. And yet, somehow, my classes have filled far faster here than they ever did at Modawei. Could it be that substance sometimes wins out over style, even in marketing? Or, could it just be that I’m not competing against all of those taller good-looking co-workers for my students anymore?