SCHOOLS AND RECRUITERS REVIEWS
View Thread · Previous · Next Return to Index › Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE
Frank Carle - 2017-09-01

Dear all,

When Ben Stone and I founded ABCi almost 6 years ago, our original goal was to work with 60 schools by 2022. To say we underestimated the huge demand for quality project-teaching would be an understatement. The first few projects quickly led to fast growth (official recognition by Austrian Ministry of Education: https://www.bmb.gv.at/schulen/pwi/pa/abci.html) and new positions (From 4 staff members in 2013 to 20 members of staff 18 months ago and this winter we’ll have over 50) that have made those initial projections look ridiculous. We are not MBAs or businessmen, we’re just a couple of regular teachers who wanted to help change things for the better. So hopefully we can be forgiven somewhat for concentrating on the quality of teaching and teacher training first and focusing on the administrative aspects second. Like any good teacher, we’re still learning and we appreciate your feedback as well as your patience.

Just on this past program alone (April to July 2017), the College gave away free outreach English projects to 25,489 children. Of that number approximately 2,800 were refugee children and another 5,900 came from families living at or below the poverty line. Were it not for ABCi’s visit, these children would have never have had this incredible linguistic, social and cultural opportunity that can serve as the impetus that guides them towards a better future. The college has recently worked with outside experts to create a theory of change model for children in the German-speaking world. I think it is important for us all to stop sometimes and remember that we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves.

The college recently commissioned an academic study by award-winning TEFL researcher and author Jason Anderson to inspect, research and summarize the efforts of the College's outreach projects in the wider EFL field: "Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), Task-based Learning (TBL) and Total Physical Response (TPR) within a communicative language teaching (CLT) framework.” You can read more about it here: https://www.english-teacher-college.at/about/academic-research/

So thanks to the great efforts of staff and Student Teachers, we have popularized a very effective style of English-language instruction at a scale and speed across an entire country that we never thought possible before. But there’s a downside to doing something so well that you grow so fast, and that’s the growing pains that we’ve experienced over the last year. When you grow fast, one of the things that is hard to get right is people. Like I said, we’re teachers, not MBAs – just like the kids we teach, we are learning by doing here.

One of the things that always made the College a great place to work was that we only hired good people, the sort of people who do with all their heart what they know in their head is right. I know that probably sounds simplistic, so let me explain. When I say good, I mean empathetic and competent. That’s really all you need, we can teach you everything else. Empathetic because those kinds of people identify with the mission of the organization to help children and see that if they don’t do their job, it hurts everyone else and one of their colleagues has to step in and do it for them. Competent because once you realize what needs to be done to help, you need to be able to do it: e.g. you need competence in English to teach it or knowledge of HTML to design a website. Competence without empathy ends in empty selfishness, empathy without competence ends in frustrated inefficiency.

So if we’re such a great place with such a wonderful approach to language teaching and such awesome people, then why the negative reviews of the organization and its staff that have appeared online recently? The truth is that we grew so fast over the last year, our hiring strategy could not keep up and we necessarily hired some staff who turned out to not fully meet our expectations as outlined above. That’s one of the reasons why we are slowing down to consolidate our growth now. At the end of the day, I am the boss and I shouldn’t have let that happen. But I did. Mea Culpa. So the good news is that we all learned a lot about people and recruiting from that experience and we can be sure to avoid putting ourselves in that position again. In response to these online attacks: personally, it’s hard for me to empathize with the mind-set of someone who attacks an NGO that has helped over 200,000 children, is one of the only institutions trusted by both Trinity College London and Cambridge University to run their world-leading TEFL courses and is an official partner with the Austrian Education Ministry. In any event, those people who did not fit the ethos of the organisation are no longer employed here.

So where does that leave us moving forward? Well, if you are one of those empathetic and competent people I wrote about above and are thinking about joining us in Austria, all I can say is that Ben Stone and I have worked up to 100 hours a week for the last 6 years to help create the kind of place where we, as teachers, would want to come to work every day: a place where the focus is on teaching and teacher training and not on taking shortcuts to turn a big profit. And despite some growing pains, we’ve done it. So let’s focus on some of the positive things happening right now. In my former role working at a state teacher training college, I’ve seen thousands of teachers and right now we have just hired or promoted 6 out of 7 of the best teachers I have ever seen in my life on staff into leadership positions. As an educator, these are great people, these are the kinds of people that you want to work for and learn from.

There have been some additional exciting changes and additions to the College over the past month. As we grow and decentralize, these changes are all a sign of our healthy growth from a start-up NPO to a larger NGO.

The governing organ of the college has been restructured and the manner in which it operates made more robust and transparent as per the advice of our external advisers at Leitner and Leitner (https://www.leitnerleitner.com/austria/en/about-us) and IGO (http://en.gemeinnuetzig.at/igo-interest-group-of-public-benefit-organizations). At a board of directors meeting on July 25th, 2017, the statutes were amended to add six extremely competent directors to bring professional operational oversight to each department at the college. It was in large part due to the advice and insight from these directors that the college has begun a plan to consolidate and optimize that will have a great knock-on effect in the coming weeks, months and years for student teachers, staff and Austrian pupils alike. It is time to slow down and really concentrate on quality control. It is time to train and retain these turly great people that we have on staff at the moment. It is time to eliminate, once and for, the commerical presence of multi-national corporations from Austrian state schools, where they have NO BUSINES BEING WHATSOEVER.

More information, along with our latest financial statement, will be made available shortly on our updated college website’s ”impressum” page: https://www.english-teacher-college.at/about/impressum/

With new dorms, new partners and a redesigned (and less-intense) course, the experience that we now offer for student teachers has never been better – the TEFL program that will run in 2017-2018 will be superior to previous courses in almost every way imaginable: Every year, the college recruits 130 program participants from a pool of over 2,000 applicants.

I wanted to finish this message by again publicly thanking existing staff for their hard work over the last few months. Working at a start-up NPO in Europe is not easy. That's why 95% of them go bankrupt in the first 3 years. It requires passion. It requires dedication. It requires good people who believe in what they're doing and in each other. When we're stuck in traffic or stuck going through 100 emails in our inbox, sometimes it's easy to forget how much of a difference we are all making in the lives of children and young people every day.

Clearly it was not our plan to go through the last few months with an understaffed college and in retrospect, we probably grew a bit too much and a bit too fast. But we did it. Or more exactly, you all did it. And I won't pretend that you did that for me, Ben Stone or even for the mission of the organization, I am sure that first and foremost, in most cases you did it for each other. For doing so and doing it well, you are to be commended.

It is easy to make the right choices and to be a good person when times are easy, but by your choices over the past few months, you showed yourself and those around you that you are a good person when it matters and that you care about others around you when things get tough.

Your dedication is inspiring - I am proud to have the opportunity to work with you.

You have all earned a much-deserved rest and right now it is time for all of us to relax a bit and restore a bit of work / life balance for ourselves and those around us. No more phone calls, emails or working outside of normal hours. We don’t have to anymore. We did it. The sprinit has become the marathon. Pace yourselves accordingly.

Whatever else has happened, we're still on track to give every child in Austria a free outreach project by 2020, so let's keep working together until every child in Austria has had a free English project.

That will be something we can all be proud of for the rest of our lives.

Let’s all make a promise to relax and take it a bit easier on ourselves and each other in the future. It is time to slow down.

It is time for a fresh start.

Best,

--
Frank Carle BA BSc MPhil (OXON)
President
The English Teacher Training College and Bilingual Classroom Initiative (ABCi)
Vorchdorf Campus
Bahnhofstraße 13
4655 Vorchdorf
Österreich

Messages In This Thread
The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Bella -- 2015-10-28
My experience with ABCi -- Casey -- 2017-07-18
Re My experience with ABCi -- Question Master -- 2017-07-21
Re My experience with ABCi -- Casey -- 2017-07-21
Re My experience with ABCi -- FTinPRC -- 2017-07-19
Re My experience with ABCi -- Taffy -- 2017-07-19
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- CS -- 2017-05-25
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Kate -- 2017-07-08
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- BF -- 2017-07-09
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Kim Mares -- 2017-07-09
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Ben Stone -- 2017-07-11
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Frank Carle -- 2017-09-01
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- N -- 2017-09-06
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Principal Skinner -- 2017-09-06
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- N -- 2017-09-06
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Ben B -- 2017-07-28
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Viv -- 2017-07-30
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Taffy -- 2017-07-31
The English Teacher Training College of Austria -- Frank Carle -- 2017-09-01
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- expat hubby -- 2017-07-28
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Richard Harvey -- 2017-07-12
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- HR -- 2017-07-12
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Question Master -- 2017-07-20
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Claud you are a nonce -- 2017-07-19
English in Action -- Trevor -- 2017-06-09
Re English in Action and ABCi -- Agree re Frank Carle -- 2017-06-17
Re English in Action Austria -- Shameem Aziz -- 2017-06-22
Re English in Action -- Heather -- 2017-06-12
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Martin -- 2016-12-31
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- TR -- 2017-03-01
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- The English Teacher Training College and Bilingual Classroom Initiative (ABCi) -- 2016-03-15
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Lilly -- 2017-03-13
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Gem -- 2017-03-15
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Lilly -- 2017-03-15
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Gemma -- 2017-03-22
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Ing -- 2017-04-19
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- MK -- 2017-04-24
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Definitely Not Ben Stone -- 2017-05-04
ABCi: good place to get a TEFL certification -- James -- 2017-06-12
Re: ABCi: good place to get a TEFL certification -- Observer -- 2017-06-12
Re: ABCi: good place to get a TEFL certification -- James -- 2017-06-13
Re: ABCi: good place to get a TEFL certification -- Arthur -- 2017-06-13
Re: ABCi: good place to get a TEFL certification -- James -- 2017-06-14
Re: ABCi: good place to get a TEFL certification -- Shameem Aziz -- 2017-06-16
Re: Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- SuperWoman -- 2017-04-28
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Mike -- 2017-04-25
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Sam -- 2017-05-01
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- Definitely Not Frank Carle -- 2017-05-04
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- expat hubby -- 2017-04-29
Re The English Teacher Training College of Austria (aka ABCi) - BEWARE -- FTinPRC -- 2017-04-26
The English Teacher Training College -- Danny -- 2017-04-28
Warning! Wumao attack!!!! Re: The English Teacher Training College -- SuperWoman -- 2017-04-28
Re Warning! Wumao attack!!!! Re: The English Teacher Training College -- Silverboy -- 2017-04-28
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Go to another board -