How to get the most out of your DOS

Directors of studies can be a mixed bunch. I’ve had a few; the one who’ll always be there to lend and ear or help out, the one who is useless with admin, the business person who’s guiding mantra is bums on seats, the all-round superhero leader (I bet we all wished we had that one).

Whatever type you’ve got, here are a few ways to make sure you get the best out of them.

1. Follow up on the important stuff

Didn’t get back to you on your email? Never fear. follow up on it, your DOS may thank you for it. With emails flying in to the DOS’s inbox and a million problems to sort out, it’s easy to see how your request could go on the back burner. If it’s important to you, follow up on it.

2. Workshops

Ask about them. Suggest topics, offer to sort out the of organisation. No one in the world would openly say that development doesn’t matter. Can you give workshops? Help out or take a small part of one? Let them know. You might be the solution!

3. Keep emails short and to the point

One topic per email. You don’t want what’s important to get lost in a sea of rambling. Can you make the solution or follow up action clear? Yes? Do it. Saving your DOS time will get you what you want and fast. Rant and ramble with six paragraphs and don’t be surprised if your requests are ignored. Consider your reader.

4. Glorious observations

Ask for them. Welcome them. Have a positive attitude to them. It takes time to organise and time to do (especially if it’s in-company). Be timely with your lesson plan and take it seriously. In the worst cases your professional attitude will reflect well on you. In the best cases it will contribute to a great working relationships.

Not all schools offer observations. You can ask for one. Ask and you shall be rewarded.

5. Come with questions

Popping by to say hi? Come with some questions. New courses? Missing your books? Come and ask. You might just catch your DOS with a few minutes free and then have all your questions answered. Be proactive. Don’t wait until it’s a problem.

6. Ask how things are going

It sounds trivial but it’s so refreshing. Ask about the company, how everything is going. Making small talk will build relations. We teach it, do we do it?

7. Share your thoughts

Feedback is important to me. So important. How the course is going, if the students like a new book. Try to think of a positive and a constructive. You don’t want to get a reputation as always negative after all.

8. Keep your admin in check

Invoices, lists, records. Every time these are late. Chasing up on these things and the delays involved creates more work.

What should I say? You’re probably nodding your head and thinking “that’s what I do”. Then congratulations on your working relationship with your DOS!

5 thoughts on “How to get the most out of your DOS

  1. Dennis Newson says:

    Dale. I don’t have to deal with a DOS, but I am a Joint SIG coordinator for a …well-known TEFL language association. :-). Any comments on how to show interest, support, raise important issues, float new ideas, encourage committee discussions etc. without producing too many emails? Is it important to Skype, for example, not write all the time? I’m a sinner but understand the disadvantages of messages that are too long. On the other hand, I’m a humanist educator and don’t want my committee to be merely efficient in a business world sense. In summary: Help!

  2. dalecoulter says:

    Hi Dennis,

    Thanks very much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

    How about flipping it all on its head and having the ideas floated and flowing to you? Meet your key member types (electronically via skype or google hang out) and encourage the floating of ideas to you.

    You might be surprised how much people have to say.

    A note on email – it’s top-down and time consuming. Ideas get lost and people seldom understand each other as well as face to face interaction.

    In a perfect world, this would be the way to run an organisation; focus on the grass roots and have them tell you what they need, use your acumen to ask the right questions and present the challenges.

    Look forward to hearing your thoughts.


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