Feb 25, 2013

Day 1

A good day today -- unless I'm wrong.

This was day one of a teacher-training programme in a new school. When I say a new school, I mean it's going to be a fresh start for them with SpeakYourMind.

The school has been up and successfully running for 20 years and has a good stable stream of clients and a strong local reputation. Why rock the boat? The owner thought that after 20 years he could simply be looking towards another 20 years of the same and then retirement. Was that doing justice to himself and his own potential? Was it doing justice to the business that he might want to pass on? And was it doing justice to his staff who have been very loyal and hard-working over the last few years? He evidently had asked himself these questions and decided that no -- he wasn't ready to settle into a comfortable rut.

A lucky coincidence brought his attention to SpeakYourMind: a new student at his school told him that he had done a really good course in another town where he had spent the last few years – the method had really worked for him and he had made a lot of progress: didn't this school have anything similar to offer? The course was SpeakYourMind and the owner contacted us. After a few exchanges he came over to visit our central office in Verona with a friend from his town who would be able to get a student’s-eye view of things. They both liked it and were impressed and the decision was to go ahead with SpeakYourMind being at the centre of his revitalised school’s new era.

So today saw the school staff’s first real encounter with SpeakYourMind: the owner had prepared them for this in advance so it wasn't totally out of the blue and because they had a good relationship with him they were naturally inclined to trust his intuition on this important decision - or at the least, to approach this change with open minds. So -- how did it go?

Sitting here in my hotel room reflecting on the day, I'd say that things got off to a good start: the teachers had a busy schedule after our training, so feedback has to wait until tomorrow. I think things were far more different than they had anticipated but I think they are impressed by the way things are thought out and the reasoning that has gone into what we propose as an English course -- they like the whole approach that really looks at things from a student’s point of view.

And talking of students – well, they always seem to be our best allies. The students we had today as volunteers did the SpeakYourMind placement test in the morning, which in itself seemed to gain positive response from them -- and then they came back for their first lesson in the afternoon with all the staff observing. Students tend to instinctively get the point of the whole lesson format and quickly see how easy it is to get a lot out of the lesson, and for the teachers to see that positive response goes a long way towards persuading them that there really is something of value inside the course - things that might not be evident on first or even second sight. Thank goodness for the students!

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