Laughing Coyote School of English in Nayarit in Mexico has recently got a lot of TEFL blog coverage due to them turning the tables on us by starting a blacklist of former teachers and trainee teachers. You can easily find the blacklist itself and the various blog and forum threads on it by googling the school name. Here, however, is what Juan Pablo assures me is the only interview they have ever given or ever will give. As such, and in order to avoid just repeating the information and atmosphere of other sites, I would like to keep most comments to further questions that you would like him to answer. Alternatively, you can email the questions to me (see the Contact Me link on the main blog page), and I will ask him. I have given one example of a follow up question that I hadn’t thought of in the interview in the comments section. If you have experience of the school and would like to contradict something he has said, I am happy for you to paste that part of the interview into one of those other blogs or forums and comment on it there (it is best to avoid cutting and pasting the whole interview if you can).
Can you give us a quick potted history of the Laughing Coyote chain?
Laughing Coyote School has been in business for 5 years. The first 4 years it was 100 percent family owned and run. We only started hiring teachers this last year. You can see our web page for the history of the name.
What is the structure of the chain now, e.g. franchises, head office, top management?
It is still a small, family owned business and it will stay that way. We have no desire to grow into any type of corporation. This business is to give back to the community. We are retired and we do this for our state and community. We developed a program called GTWO. (get the word out). Our state is not very big, and we have many small villages that have never had the chance to learn English. Our goal was to open 10 schools in one year. We opened 11. It was a great success. We committed to 1 year to open small schools throughout Nayarit for the people to see the importance of learning English and how it can change their life. After the 1 year commitment we will close the on site schools and they will be invited to join our schools and programs in Tepic. We have taken over the English programs in Universities and other schools. We will be opening a Bilingual school hopefully by the end of 2009. We are building our new bilingual school and that takes time. This is Mexico. The land of tomorrow.
All students who participated in our program outside Tepic will have first priority to enter the new bilingual school. We will continue with our Language School also, but it will only be in the Tepic mother school.
So, what is the business plan? Are the village schools profit making, or does the training money the teachers pay subsidize the schools?
The teacher do not pay for the training. It is free. The only thing we ask is that they complete their contract, whatever the contract term may be for each teacher. Of course, if their is an emergency, like one teacher developed cancer and he had to leave. Another teacher his mother died and needed to go home. The small villages are not profit making. TEPIC school is the mother school and supported the teachers and schools where the tuition was not enough.
Can we have some stats- number of teachers, staff turnover, number of students etc?
On average we have over 300 students. Tepic on average has 150 plus students. The small schools in the villages are on average of 25 to 60 per school. We do not allow a class to be bigger than 10 students. All classes are 10 students or less in all our schools. Tepic is the mother school and it is fully staffed. All business is run from here. In total we have hired 25 candidates. Out of 25 we had 11 make it through the training and get to their own school in one of the villages.
So, how many native speaker teachers that are not members of your family work for your schools at the time of writing?
We will not give any information on teachers or staff. At this time, they are being bothered by the 2 web sites here in Mexico run by the 2 individuals we do not know, as well as a couple of black list individuals. They harass and threaten the teachers and staff in their attempt to get revenge.
All I’m asking for is a number of people.
How many people we have has nothing to do with the quality or qualifications of a school. Your getting off the original agreement . (My answer is above)
What are your unique selling points?
1. Our method. 2. We teach students to speak.
We have seen their dreams come true. We have been part of them getting jobs in major businesses, and in other countries. One of our big goals was to get students to know the culture, customs, and the language of other countries so that they can get good jobs in our country here, Mexico. We have seen that happen. There is no need to go to other countries if you can have your own business, or make a living here in Mexico. In Nayarit, our reputation speaks for itself. Teachers who teach English in other schools come to our school to learn English. People in Governments, come to our school to learn English. Doctors come to our school to learn English. They know when they come here, they are going to learn to speak English and have fun doing it. The Latin students are tired of grammar, books, cassettes, and boring classes. They are tired of spending a lot of money to learn to read or write, but not speak or understand. Our method is amazing. It is fun, dynamic, and full of visual learning. Students are in front of the class 80 percent, the teacher 20 percent.
What are the job titles and roles of yourself, your wife and other members of your families?
I own the school. I am Mexican. I speak 6 languages and I worked in the USA with the GOVT. My wife is the principal and a teacher. She keeps things organized and decorates all the schools and apartments. We plan on turning it over to someone else after the bilingual school is open, so we can continue to travel around the world. WE have a few more places we want to see. But, it will stay in the family. That is the Mexican way.
Other family are teachers, trainers, and moral support. I do not hire Mexican teachers for the Language Schools. I will for the bilingual schools for the afternoon classes, but they must be born in the USA or from Mexico if they have the cultural experience. We have other staff, all Mexican. (non-teaching) positions.
What are the backgrounds and qualifications of the people in top positions?
We do not reveal any educational backgrounds on any of our staff. Mexican or American. Just as we do not disclose the acedemic backgrounds of any of our teachers. This is to protect the person, as well as the families of the staff. Some of our staff has worked is sensitive jobs and are under guidelines that they must follow. I can tell you that backgrounds include 4 year degrees, master degrees and doctrine degrees. The backgrounds include Psychology, Business, Philosophy, Religion, Criminal Justice, Firefighter/paramedic, Engineering, Holistic Medicine, Death and dying Counselors, Military, Education, Linguistics, Analysis, among others.
This seems like a spurious argument to me. If somebody working in your school has come up with an entirely new method of teaching English, they should have a recognised English teaching qualification that they could quite easily state here. Here’s an example- I have a BSc (Hons) from the University of Birmingham, a Cambridge CTEFLA from Angloschool in London and a Cambridge DELTA from BLC in Madrid, plus some other more minor TEFL qualifications. I wouldn’t give out my address or telephone number online, but I had no problems giving that personal information. Can you please do the same for yourself and your wife? If you really don’t want to make that information public (again, I can’t imagine why), you can tell me. I will then check with the university and publish the fact that I have found out that you do indeed have postgraduate qualifications, without mentioning in public which institution and which qualifications.
First, I do not care if you publish this or not. It does not affect us either way. Secondly, I will not disclose any personal information. I do not expect you to understand. You have no idea what jobs or life was experienced before retirement of anyone involved in this school. I do not owe you or anyone else an explanation. This is not about the past. It is about a school that teaches English and in 5 years has produced hundreds of English speaking students. That is the future. Teacher Candidates have no need to know anything else about any staff members other than what concerns their job, school and students. They come here to teach, and enjoy our culture and hospitality. IF that is not enough then there are plenty of schools for them to teach in. What speaks louder is the production. The students and the parents are the best voice.
We are with the SEP National Federal Educational Program. It is not easy to be affiliated with them as a Language School. It is a long process and takes a lot of patience to provide all the information they ask for. That means they have seen our entire program and done in depth interviews, know our program, our backgrounds, and us. We have been with them 5 years. They are monitors for the Mexican educational programs. They can come in any time and observe or close a school. If you check you will see very few in Mexico that are affiliated with SEP as a LANGUAGE PROGRAM. As a bilingual or regular Mexican school, they must all be accepted by SEP but Language schools do not need to be affiliated.
I must ask you to respect our privacy and understand that we are a very private family and intend to stay that way. There is a reason for everything we do, and you will simply just need to honor that.
If you want to keep your qualifications completely secret that is of course your right. Does that mean that you never mention your qualifications or those of your wife to teachers and students?
See the answer above.
When, how and why did the blacklist start, and how has it changed since it was first set up (e.g. have people been added more recently)?
The blacklist started almost a year ago. That is when we started hiring ESL teachers. At first, we were quite naive. We thought everyone in this business was doing this because they were good people, and they had a passion or love for working with children. We had no idea of the dark side of this business. . It became apparent that there were some great people but there also were some very bad people that had no business being around children. We started doing background checks. Very thorough ones. What we found was shocking in some cases. We spoke to other schools all over the world, who had more experience in this field then we did. The USA was very helpful and a couple schools in Asia, as well as research on the subject. We were shocked once again what we were told by several schools.
It was only after observing first hand the behavior, and grotesque actions that we decided that is was our duty and obligation to expose these individuals and give the schools a heads up that they could be a problem and to check further into the backgrounds. We made it very clear in our ad’s that we were very strict and conservative and would not allow many behaviors other schools may overlook. Just like anywhere, if a person does not report something that is illegal, they become guilty of a crime also. A teacher in the states must report even the suspicion of any type of child abuse. If not she can lose her job among other things. If a teacher candidate does something here at our school, and we do not report it, then that teacher goes to another school after we terminated them and does the same thing and on and on, then we are responsible for that action by not reporting and exposing what we know about that teacher. In Mexico, a teacher is not allowed to have any intimate relationship with a student. Our school does not and will not allow such actions.
Most of the entries mention things that are crimes under Mexican and US law. If you have enough evidence to publicly name and shame such people (and hence enough evidence to be able to win a libel case if one of them decided to start one), you must therefore have enough evidence to hand over to the police for a prosecution to go ahead. Why don’t you take that route instead?
They are in the hands of the police. But, this is Mexico, and things take time. An example: I was with a Ministerio Publico (like a judge) yesterday. An attorney and his clients were in the office looking very tired. I walked in and asked for a copy of a report. The attorney said “son, have a seat. We have been here since 8 am. (it was now 8 pm). My clients family got shot last May 08. Today is the first chance the MP had a chance to go to the crime scene.” I was very sympathetic for the family.
In Mexico, you have to file a demand in the place the crime took place. In most of these cases that is in a small village. The other issue is these people took off and ran. They had the chance to give back what they stole, or money they owed the school, but chose to not try and clear up the issue. We gave them notice and time to return and clear up the problem and that door is still open to some of them. In other cases, they are so severe that the investigations are ongoing. Even in the USA or other western countries, investigations can take days to years. It is also important to not make any mistakes in the investigation. One mistake can cause a very bad criminal to go free. I am sure you have heard of such cases. Mexican Law is very different than the USA. In the USA there are times we know they committed the crime but do not have enough evidence to convict. Most of the blacklist have the opportunity to rectify the issue. We have had 8 cell phones stolen thus far, 5 federal educational ID’s, with their photos on them, 6 bank cards, (visa), that we give to them, and of course money. The destruction of some of the schools are devastating. Everything in them are brand new, and they are very organized, clean, and stocked well. Each teacher in each small town is on a trust basis. They collect the money from the students twice a month and deposit it. There is no one looking over their shoulders.
The other issues are behavioral. It may not be a crime, but do you want that behavior in your school? Or, are you ready to overlook a teacher sleeping with a student? We are not. We make it clear before they get here. We send out the rules of our school. You can also go online to see what we expect. There is a copy of a sample contract online.
The other issue is some of them have issues in the USA, and that can be very complicated in the laws from country to country. The other issue, is some of them change their names, date of birth, or age and height. It is harder to get the background, and can take quite sometime. In the meantime they can cause a lot of damage before they are asked to leave. What we put on the blacklist, is what we have seen, observed and have witnesses to. We have done all we can, and there are some cases getting ready to make an arrest when they find him/them.
Even if all that was true, if you cannot prove those accusations with the same level of proof that the police would require, you are guilty of libel.
I am not sure where your information of not having the level of proof came from. It is up to the police to prove the case. Not us. It is up to the suspect to prove his/her innocence. Our only duty is to report the crimes. Each of the crimes the police are called in to investigate. We work hand and hand with them on every teacher that has allegations made against them to come to the correct conclusion of what happened without a doubt. I think what you are stuck on is the “mental disorder” which was the professional opinion of licensed doctors observing them in and out of class.
If a man likes pictures of underage girls. That is a crime and a mental disorder. A teacher steals a cell phone, money, uniforms, books, etc…. That is a crime. Someone goes out of his way to destroy property and an entire school, that is a crime. Someone who has prostitutes in a school, that is a crime. Would you not agree that any of the crimes above also are accompanied by some level of metal instability or disorder?
There is then an investigation made by the police. All information is gathered. What people in towns have observed. What students have observed. Photos are taken. Residues left in the apartment are tested to see if it is narcotics. All this information is put together with local law enforcement, It is very simple. Some cases are also being investigated in the USA.
Do not use drugs or you will get caught. Do not have sex with students or you will get caught. Do not steal money or property that does not belong to you or you will get caught. If you destroy school property it needs to be replaced and you will be prosecuted. If your background check comes up dirty you will get caught. Our number one priority is the protection of our students, staff, and schools.
There is no libel case. We have an international attorney that specializes in trademarks, libels, contracts, etc… With an exception of a few on the blacklist they can come return the money and pay what they owe as well as the items they stole. They can mail it in if they like. It will be noted on the blacklist that they rectified the problem. Once the problem has been rectified we will notify the local police of the rectification. The issue you should be looking into is why has not one person on the list offered to return stolen property, give back the money they stole, Id’s, phones, etc…? They could send it back in the mail.
So, they are guilty until proven innocent?
The above answer in correct and so is this one.
That is not what is being said. There is a big difference in being guilty and being convicted. Many are guilty of a crime but are not convicted of the crime because of a lack of sufficient evidence or a technicality. you are accused of a crime, in the USA and many western countries you must obtain an attorney. It now is up to your attorney and you to prove your innocence or cast a doubt. It is up to a court of law too and a jury to determine guilty beyond a shadow of doubt in the USA. In Mexico, it is different. In other countries it is different. The laws need to be respected in every country you or anyone else is in. Many people travel to other countries, especially ones they feel they can get away with more, and do not respect the laws. IT is not till they get caught, arrested, or prosecuted that they understand that they are not in their own country. There are many stories out there about disrespect for other countries people or/and laws. Mexico deals with individuals with their law. Not yours, not the USA, not Canada or other western laws. I am not American, Canadian, British or any other western nationality. We are a Mexican School that is conservative and has rules we expect to be followed, and students and schools we expect to be respected. The crimes are documented. If they are not guilty then why dont they rectify any accusation they can? Real innocense you do not go to blogs. You go to the source to clear up a situation. You dont RUN, you face the truth.
Couldn’t you achieve exactly the same thing (warning employers) by printing their names and “contact us if you need more information of why we would not recommend them for other teaching jobs”? That at least would be slander rather than libel.
There are 11 people on the list. Can you give us numbers for (1) people who left before their end of their contracts, e.g. did a runner, (2) people who you fired, (3) people who finished their contract?
This is very difficult, due to the reasons behind the departures. I cannot go into detail on any one person. There are cases still open. I will let you word the names. I will tell you the names and you number them how you want.
(He gave me a list of names and details, which seems to boil down to one runner, two mutually agreed, and all the others fired)
If you mutually agreed with two people that they should leave, isn’t it rather backstabbing to still put them on the blacklist?
Let me give you the perfect example. EDITED, was speaking with one of the local doctors about his mental condition. He and ourselves came to the conclusion that he would give 4 weeks notice to bring in a new teacher and help train the new incoming teacher. He then sent this email
I thought you did not want names? Are you a real journalist or do you not have the capacity to remain fair and balanced?
That would of been great, except that EDITED did not honor the letter, contract, or the 4 week notice. It was 24 hours. He left the next day and took many things with him that did not belong to him. EDITED was given every chance to clear up the issue. Long before he was put on the blacklist. He chose to not clear it up. EDITED signed the contract knowing full well what was in it and the conditions. He broke the contract and did not honor the contract. The only backstabbing are those writing lies on a blog after being treated very well, and very fair. The only backstbbing is when we put our trust into teachers and they abused it.
Those sentences about EDITED were not in the email I sent you. I don’t know how it got in there but the only thing I can suggest is that one person over there started answering the question and another person carried on without realising that. I do not want to give a false bad impression of you due to just a misunderstanding, so would you like to delete the above and just answer the question again?
I added what I think will clarify more what we are saying.
One of the entries lists 13 accusations. Did he do them all on the same day? If not, why was he still employed at the school after you found out about the first?
What you have to realize is after training the teachers go out to the school. These schools are 1-2-3 to 8 hours away. There is nobody watching them or looking over their shoulder. They have tons of freedom and that may lead to the downfall of some who may need more structure. There is a meeting in Tepic once every two weeks and usually someone checks the small schools once a month. Due to the level of trust given to each teacher to do the right thing. We usually will not find out about things that have happened until it is too late. These accusations are not made by us and that is where many people are mistaken. These accusations are made by the students in the schools. It is impossible for us to see if he put cocaine on candy as we are hours away. The kids told us and the parents were very angry. So in support for our students we pursued this further and found the drugs in his apartment along with light bulbs used for smoking crystal meth. A full blown investigation was initiated. He was terminated the same day we were called by parents and showed up with the police. There are currently 3 police reports and case numbers against this individual. When students tell us something we do not jump to a conclusion. It is investigated first to find out if there is any merit in the accusation. When it is substantiated the proper steps are taken to ensure the safety of the students.
Many people don’t think about the consequences of their actions. One teacher destroyed the life of one student. She was a University student chasing her dream of becoming a Veterinarian. A cute girl that he started sleeping with from a small ranch town. She was a virgin and fell in love with him. Her mother went after him with a machete. He was fired and she was kicked out of the school. Her family was devastated. She dropped out of University thinking she was going to marry him and move to the USA. He left her and went back to the USA. She now is a cashier at the pharmacy. Her whole life has gone downhill because of his selfishness to cross the line with a student. It is sad and makes me sick to think he was a part of this school for a short time. The family was notified that the teacher was fired immediately and their daughter was being expelled for breaking school rules.
Basically the same question as above- if you have a lot of evidence for each person, why were you collecting evidence when you should have been just getting them out of the school (even with paid leave until their contract was up if you were really concerned about safety of children etc)?
They were not still in the schools when we found out any of this. They either were gone, or fired immediately. Once again, they make you think we were around them all the time. This is not true. We have schools anywhere from 1 hour to 8 hours from here. NO one is there with the teacher. The teacher goes to the village, community and blends in and becomes part of that community. We do not interfere unless we have a reason. The school monitor goes around 1 time a month. It was not till we got a complaint for a student or parent that we were aware of the problem. WE all are in Tepic. None of those teachers were teachers for Tepic. They were terminated as soon as possible, or they got scared and ran because they were affraid of what would happen to them when the police arrived.
We bring candidates to Tepic to train, and that is why we are able to terminate candidates that we feel are not qualified or dependable, or ethical for a school of their own in one of the small towns. In a few cases we sent a Mexican assistant with them till the full backgrounds got back. We also sent a Mexican assistant to report back to us on the condition of the schools and apartments as well as she would speak to the students and familes for information. That is how we were able to act as quick as we did in some cases.
The main point I get out the above is that some of the accusations are based on information from the students that you cannot confirm. Even if you really found said drugs in the room, that is not proof that the incident happened as your student said. By publishing that hearsay you are guilty of libel.
We have the proof 100 percent. Without a doubt.
If all the accusations were true, don’t you think that would reflect badly on your school to have employed such people in the first place?
Of course. But if I was worried about everything everyone said about me, and acted on manipulating their opinions, then I would have to compromise my own morals, values and ethics. I will always do the right thing. What I feel is right for my students, family, and the welfare of students here or in any other school in the world. What value does a reputation have if it is bought and paid for? Telling the truth is not always easy, nor popular, as in this case. But not telling the truth is far more dangerous to other human beings, and no reputation is worth 1 innocent person being hurt, or harmed in any way. I cannot have that on my conscience.
Many of those people never made it to a school. They were eliminated in training. In fact I think only 3 or 4 off the top of my head have actually made it past the training period. The blacklist is not for a popularity contest obviously. If another school hires them that is fine with me. But it is only fine if we did our part in letting them know that there is a risk. If something happens to one of their students we did our job informing them of the information we have and that a school may want to dig deeper into the references etc. of these people.
My point is, I am a professional and experienced English teacher who would avoid your school because you have done something unprofessional like putting up the blacklist. That is enough, without any need to even read other rumours.
If you read blogs without facts or speaking to us or visiting our schools or speaking with our current teachers, and believe everything you read from total strangers, then I think you avoiding our school would be a good idea.
I never claimed I was a journalist, I clearly stated that the interview was for my blog and that I was a teacher from the very first email. I did, however, say that I had written for the EL Gazette and that I aimed to keep to journalistic standards. That is true. Again, would you like to take this opportunity to delete the threat above and give a more acceptable answer? If not, I am quite happy to publish it as it is
What are your minimum requirements for teachers (qualifications and teaching experience)?
We will be changing that for our bilingual school for Sept. They will have to have 4 plus years of college, a teaching credential from the USA or other qualified place. They will need to speak at least 2 languages, and they will need 5 plus years teaching experience in the USA. TEFL, and other certs. are not required anymore. We do not want teachers that get on the computer and apply for a cert. or go to a school for 2 weeks or 4 weeks and come out calling themselves teachers. We have seen how unqualified many of those teachers are. For the rest of the qualifications I suggest you look at our web page. We are very strict, and conservative. We want teachers who are serious, and not here to back pack or party vacation time. We were more lenient for our 1 year program for the villages. The qualifications were basic. The pay was lower in the villages because the students could not pay a lot for the program. Tepic financed the program in most part and were proud to do so.
In Tepic, the teachers have 5 plus years teaching and all the above qualifications.
If all your present native speakers have US teaching qualifications and 5 plus years teaching, you must pay pretty well!
You do not read what was written. Pay attention to what was said. That is the new qualifications for our Bilingual School that will open at the end of the year. The current teachers were accepted with a lot less qualifications. We will pay a lot more for the bilingual School teachers.
Does that mean that a science teacher from the US who has no TESOL training or experience could teach in your school?
Yes it does. It will go on all qualifications, experience, and references. This again, will be for the bilingual school.
Do those teachers also have to take your training and pay for it?
Once again, the teachers have never paid for the training. It is free to all those that finish the contract or we mutually agree to terms.
What are the selling points of working for your school for professional qualified and experienced teachers?
The number one selling point is the method. It is so interesting and fun to teach. I learn from it everyday. It is very visual and dynamic. Teachers are given the opportunity to use their imagination in every lesson. You do not have someone looking over your shoulder every day. There is a lot of freedom and trust given to the teachers. The method takes ideas from Chomsky among others. It is extremely unique. That is the number one reason why there is a month training. This are not Backpack books and New Interchange. This is in front of the class teaching in a manner where the students are extremely active. The students love it and so do the teachers. Even most of the teachers who are unhappy with us loved the classes and the method. They saw results.
I have found that if you are extremely left brained you will not fit into the method as well. Teachers are treated very well. Taken on trips to the beaches, financial help, the school is extremely organized. You can always get exactly what you need and when you need it. If you are very needy you will not fit in. You need to be comfortable with yourself. The villages are full of Mexicans, and no Westerners. In most cases your out in a small village and are the only white person there. Many teachers can’t handle being completely submerged in the culture. It changes them and I believe they do things that they would not normally do. But, it can also be an experience to last a lifetime. The people here are so fun and loving. They are extremely affectionate and quite passive in this area.
We celebrate every holiday here. Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas are celebrated with the students in the most traditional ways. Costumes, cooking together, music and Santa Claus. Dramas, plays, poems, stories, and much more. The schools are all brand new, and the apartments are within most of the schools so they are all very quaint and nice.
Again, if you have your own method, what are the credentials behind that? Every TESOL teacher in the world knows what Chomsky said, but that is hardly proof that their methods work. Research for an MA? Published papers?
Once again, if the method did not work we would not be in business. The public knows the difference in a school that works and one that does not. It is not just Chomsky. It is influenced by other scholars also. Every single teacher that was here saw the results of the method. Not one every criticized or scorned the method. Just the opposite. In all the gossip, you have never seen anything negative about the method. Because the method is great. It works, and the students are the proof.
Don’t you think the present controversy would make such teachers less likely to work for your school?
Like I said before this is not done for a popularity contest. We are a bit of a black sheep rebel school in the ESL world. I feel if someone can not see the gossip for what it is, they probably don’t belong here. If you actually look at the blogs, it is the same 4 or 5 people who were fired. There is one other blogger named Guy who I do not know. He works in DF. He was offered numerous times all the police reports, numbers, photos, everything under a privacy condition. To put it all to rest. But, he declined. I am guessing he is just trying to get his name out there. He does not really care about the truth or he would have accepted. I think he is more interested in fame and bashing than anything else. He does own a school in DF and gets teachers to pay for the training. Showing he supports teachers, good or bad, is in his best interest. As with Mr. Denness.
If you are fired it hurts your ego. If you are caught stealing and fired you are extremely embarrassed. If you are fired, caught stealing, and exposed that is the ultimate. If we wanted to be really vengeful we could post exactly what they did with a photo of them. Could you imagine your photo next to statements and photos of a feces covered room? OR worse? We do not believe that is necessary. Plus, We do believe in a degree of privacy to keep reprisals from happening. More important, it is not necessary to say any more than what has been said.
I am not concerned whatsoever about the gossip on blogs. My concern is providing a safe, secure environment for my students and staff. As life goes, the rest will take care of itself.
As I said, this will make professional teachers avoid a school that is odd enough to have a blacklist, and so will in no way improve the level of teaching or safety and progress of your students.
The only teachers that will avoid this school are ones we do not want here. Real teachers are not interested in gossip or the comments from people they do not know. An intelligent person will not even stoop to the level of online blogs that are for the personal purposes of revenge or vendictive gossip.
There have been quite a few online complaints about accommodation. What is the logic behind having (some of?) the accommodation in the same building as the school?
The accommodations for each place are posted online. Photos are sent beforehand. I actually have emails from the complainers saying how much they love it. If you are angry and want to damage a school what would you say to prevent other teachers from coming? Obviously, accommodations are an easy target. They all are furnished , have tv, dvd players, phones, internet, fans, kitchens, desk, tables, etc… Again, this is Mexico. It is a 3rd world country. Of course things break but are fixed quickly. When it rains the electricity goes out. Houses are built with small pipes. You can not place toilet paper, tampons, etc.. down the toilet. If you do it will be clogged. A plunger will not fix it. The system has to be blown out. That may take a couple days. If a teacher does not listen to things that we say we can not prevent those things from happening. It is Mexico not New York. One teacher had to wait a week for a new hot water heater to be put in. I am sorry but things do not move quickly. I myself have to wait for these things as well. The workers get there when they get there.
Accommodations in the school has worked out two ways. One, it is impossible to be late and two it is convenient for the teacher. They do not have to pay for transportation etc… They do not have to pay utilities because it is all included. They are able to save more money. The buildings are all new. Most of the places we were the first to be there. We send photos to everyone, and when they get here, they see the different schools and are very excited about the accommodations. We have emails from them praising the accomodations and very happy with the entire set up.
Could you describe the teachers’ accommodation that is in the same building as the Tepic school?
This building is brand new. The apartment on the 3rd level was just built and finished. It is very nice a quite lovely. A great view of the entire city, with a bar on the huge 40 foot balcony. Everything is brand new. We have photos online and we send them detail photos before they arrive. The teacher accommodations in Tepic are only for training. Nothing else. It is 3-4 weeks then you are off to your town. It has a twin bed, mini closets, shelves for clothes and shoes, new tile, new hot water heater, private bathroom, with shower, toilet and sink all brand new. Just put in this last year. Hacienda furniture, with leather table and chairs, tv, dvd player, internet, fans, big picture windows, salmon colored walls, in the best part of Tepic on the tourist track. Walking distance to the historical downtown and running parks, are right in front. 3rd level view of the park. All teachers are told beforehand that they may share accomodation in Tepic only for the training period. After that you live alone. There are pictures as well on the website.
There have also been online complaints about the initial training. Can you explain what it consists of and the thinking behind that system?
To begin with we give them a couple days to rest, unwind, and adjust. We then go over again all the rules and expectations for the next 4 weeks. The first couple days they observe. After that we put them in front of the class and they start their real teaching training. There is a training teacher with them at all times. The students that are here, have been here quite some time and are aware of the program. We train the candidates in the classroom and after the class. They get evaluations in every class by the training teacher and the students. We emerge them into the method and by the 3rd week they are comfortable and feeling more confident. We observe their behavior with all ages of students, and their patience levels. We observe if they can take control of a class or if it controls them. Their voice level and pronunciation is crucial.
we are aware of only one complaint by a teacher that finished it. The other complaints were made by people who were released after a short time or failed the training. Again a majority of the people complaining were not here more than two weeks before being released. It is a time for us to see if they are fit for the position. If you were released after two weeks because you were not a good fit for the system of course your going to say it was bad. We actually read one complainer who never even saw a class. She arrived saturday and was asked to leave Sunday. She lied on her resume and her background check came back dirty.
The fact is a majority of the teachers ASK to do an extra week so that they feel more prepared and comfortable.
Have you not noticed that the complaints on our school are not our method, schools, or compensation? Not 1. It is personal attacks on the owners. That is the extent. Anything else you can see it is a great stretch.
So, there are no workshops/ input sessions- just observations?
There are a lot of workshops, input sessions and ongoing training.
What observation tasks and ranking system during observations do you use?
We are NOT a training school who charges for the trainings. We are a private school that trains the teachers in our method and does it for free. We only expect the teachers to honor the contract. I will not go into our program. You can come and see for yourself anytime. You are welcome.
Who are the trained and experienced teacher trainers in your school? What previous teacher training experience do they have?
We are not mentioning names so that is not important. Those are your rules remember? Our teachers are trained and have all certifications to do the training.
That course costs almost the same as a Cambridge CELTA or a Trinity CertTESOL, qualifications that will get teachers jobs in reputable schools like AUA, International House and the British Council all over the world. How can that be good value for money?
Once again, our training is free. British teachers are not in high demand here. In fact, the students and parents have made it very clear that they want teachers with no accents. Mexico is close neighbors to the USA. That is the English they want. Cambridge Schools in Mexico have not done very well. In fact, 2 have closed down here in Nayarit alone. Students were very bored with the method. Students are tired of the boring classes provided by “name” schools that do not produce speaking students, but charge a lot of money.
Most well respected courses have 6 to 8 hours of observed teaching practice in four weeks. What is the logic between having 20 to 30 hours a week for your teachers? How can teachers reflect on what they are doing and improve when they have a full teaching timetable?
They do not have full time teaching hours. They are with a training teacher the entire time. The problem now is teachers pay a lot of money for your courses and get very few real teaching hours. What, 10, 12 at most 15 in the entire 6 weeks? Then they are now called teachers, and when they get a method that they really have to be a real teacher, they do not know what to do. Teachers need practice teaching, and being in front of a class, and taking what they have learned and putting it into real time. Many teachers feel they are great, and that the class was perfect, until you get the evals from the students, and they did not understand anything they heard. Teachers need a lot more hours in front of real students to learn what works or does not work. To get comfortable in their own skin. To learn to connect with the class and see results they can really see and know they were the reason.
Most courses also only have trainees teaching only free courses. Were the people your trainees were teaching during those 4 weeks paying students?
Yes they are paying students. Every single one of them. We are training teachers to teach, we are training teachers in a new method. We are qualified and certified to teach teachers but that is not our focus at this school. Our focus is to teach teachers the method. Our students enjoy being part of the process and are very active in the process.
The site of your school could do with some professional proofreading. It might be a small thing, but I find such lack of attention to detail is never a good sign when starting to work for a school. Any comments?
Yes it does. It was done by a Mexican. We also put that in our responses that we are working on the web page. A gentleman from the USA is proofreading and helping us right now to make it look better. It has not been on the web for long. It took months to do, and we are still making changes to it.
And yes, it is a small thing. I have seen many people who write beautiful, but cannot teach students to speak and do not have the talent to be in front of a class. Why do you think there are ghost writers out there? Why can people write beautiful songs, and music, but cannot sing it or dare try? You will not see a school anywhere that is more organized and clean than this one. The organizational skills are to the level of annoying. I have a great staff to thank for that.
I have no proofreading training, but as a native speaker teacher I could find 95% of the errors in a couple of hours. Why doesn’t your wife just do it?
We want the scholar to provide us with ideas and other opinions.
Do you also use your own teaching materials? Do they have a more professional person proofreading them?
Our material has been revised as the school has grown. It now is almost complete. We built a 5 year program and until we have it just the way we want it we are not going to mass produce it. It is almost complete. Books are not a big part of our program. Most students have tons of English books from all the schools they have attended. We are a visual school. Visual teaching and real life situations.
By the summer 09, we will have our material published and in the work force. A very exciting step for us. They will be trademarked and copyrighted.
What are the qualifications and experience of the people who wrote that material?
Very qualified. You can find out the qualifications when the book is published. Better yet, visit our school and speak to our students. Production in the flesh.