Start your own school Tip: How to hire great teachers

superhero stood teacherIn the last post I talked about why it’s probably a good idea to not hire any extra teachers.

But if you do want to make the leap of faith,   how to hire great teachers – and not end up with nightmare scenarios – is probably the most popular question I’m getting now.

And, along with Tip no.3, it is probably the second biggest mistake I see people making.

The thing is that there is a huge worldwide shortage of *great* teachers.

They are just so hard to find and if you get one,  treat them well! 🙂

So if there aren’t enough great teachers around …. what’s my top Ninja Tip here?

Don’t hire teachers! 🙂

As I said most great teachers already have a job (or are starting their own school), so you have to ask “Why did they leave their last job?”

Sometimes of course it is a legitimate reason.

But very often we see it being because of clashes with the previous school owners.

And these clashes are usually one of two things:

a)  Bad personalities.  (Either the teacher or the previous owner)

b) Differences in teaching methodologies.

You might *think* you’ve told them how you want to teach,  but what they’re thinking is “Nah, I’ll do it my way” 🙂

I’ve seen so many owners make this mistake.

It *will* happen.

And anyway you don’t want mediocre people.

That is the definition of stress.

What you want are *great* people.


So how do you hire great people?

The rule, and this applies to any hiring anyone not just teaching,  is always…

Hire for personality.  Train for ability.

It doesn’t matter if they have zero teaching experience, in fact if you’re doing Genki English this is probably a plus point as it’s so different from everything else,  but hire for the one thing you can’t train for … an amazing personality.

Believe me if you hire someone who has all the qualifications in the world but doesn’t have the right personality,  it’s going to be heartache all the way!

But if they have the right work ethic, smile, attention to detail, ethics and dedication,  you can train them up in no time!

Ninja Tip:  For training someone up, get the book “The EMyth revisited” it will show you how to simplify everything you do so that anyone, with the right personality, can pick it up.   It will also save you hours and hours by helping you streamline your business.

Ninja Tip 2:   Even before you hire *always* be keeping an eye out for amazing people.  Just  like when you buy a red car & suddenly every car you see on the street is red, when you start thinking about people with amazing personalities, work ethics or dedication you suddenly start seeing them all around.   In the coffee shop,  in the cafe,  on campus,  ex-students, parents, wives or husbands of students,  university returnees.  They are all over.

But keep your eye out well before you need to fill a position.

That way you’ll have a list of possible candidates in your head already when the opening comes around.


Don’t rush in 

Then the second rule is  (and this one comes from bitter experience, everyone I know, including myself, has made this mistake!!) …

Hire slow. Fire Fast.

Take your time.  Get to know them.  Fill in classes yourself if you have to.

I know it’s tempting, but never, never, never give someone a job just because you “have to” fill a teaching position.

You don’t “have to”.  You’ll find a way.

And that way is *not*  by hiring someone who isn’t perfect.

Believe me you will regret it.

I promise.

Always wait.

Get the *perfect* person, not the nearest,  for the job and they will not just fill it, but they will exceed all your expectations.

Ninja Tip:  This is one more reason to keep your eyes open well before you actually will be hiring.

And finally, if they don’t work out,  do fire them.

I know emotions (and laws) come into this,  but we all make mistakes.

And it’s not the teacher we have to think about, it’s the kids.

If the teacher isn’t suited to teaching,  they have to go.

They will be happier elsewhere, you’ll be happier and the kids will be happier.

I know it’s hard,  you think they’ll change,  but they won’t.

Hire slow. Fire Fast.

I’ve seen so many owners go from quivering masses of stress and sleepless nights, to happy, relaxed human beings just by getting rid of that problem staff member.

You need to do it.

Remember we’re in a different industry.

We’re not selling widgets.  We’re guiding kids to their future lives.

Your school is where they come to gain their energy, their positivity, their passion for learning and their ability to communicate with anyone, anywhere.

They deserve the best,  teachers who have all the passion and energy you do.

And you deserve someone who can take your vision for your dream school and make it a reality and often a reality that is even better than your biggest dreams.

You guys are all my team, and your staff are all your team.

And for team Genki English we want superstars all the way.

When you get those superstar teachers, cherish them, nurture them, be strict with them and be there for them.

They will be your diamonds, your superheros, your inspiration and your guides on this amazing journey!

OK, those were my top tips,  what is your best advice for hiring great teachers?  Do let us know in the comments! 🙂

Good luck and be genki,


P.S.  Do check out that EMyth book, it’s how you will write your training course.

P.P.S.  If you’re wondering how many people you’ll need eventually, keep in mind the rule of 7.    In any business if  you have 7 people reporting to you, that is a full time job.  No teaching, that’s full time managing.    And it will usually take 7 teachers to match the teaching work you can do (because you’re so amazing! 🙂  Well, that and because it’s your baby so you are more passionate. )   So the next goal line is 7 teachers with you managing them.     Then when you get near to 7 teachers, you need to hire a professional manager.  Each manager will only manage and not teach.  They will manage a maximum of 7 teachers each and report to you.   So once you pass the first 7 teachers the next goal is 7 managers (a full time job for you to manage them) x 7 teachers per manager = 49 teachers.   See, I told you it was a never ending rabbit hole!  But that is a million dollar company.   If you want it.  My advice?  Stay small.  No teachers.  Just you. And 120 students.

Richard Graham

I'm on a mission to make education Genki—fun, exciting, and full of life! Genki English has now been researched by Harvard University and licensed by the British Council around the world. The results have been magical! Now I'm here to help you teach amazing lessons, with all the materials prepared for you, and to double your teaching income so you can sustainably help many more students in the future!

10 Responses to “Start your own school Tip: How to hire great teachers”

  1. Teacher Karlee

    Great advice Richard! The first teacher I hired had no teaching experience whatsoever, was very young and didn’t even have perfect English… most would have turned her away in a second but I saw a spark in her. She radiated positive energy and had a smile that could light up a room! I decided to give her a chance and started training her in my class, she was nervous at first but soon picked it up. Her love for kids and the language shone through as she began to teach and figure out her own style. I soon started training her on the business aspect of the school because I was already planning my exit strategy! (and yes I absolutely agree with what you said about The E-myth, it’s a must read for any business owner) Now 2 years later she´s the main teacher at the school and running it like a pro without me there! Of course I’m still working with her to improve the school but I found my ¨diamond¨ to ¨take care of my baby¨! That was the lucky story but I also did have a few ¨hire slow, fire fast¨ situations… and it´s true, you have to do what’s best for the kids not what´s easiest for you. Live and Learn!!

  2. Emmanuelle

    Hi, I am considering hiring someone.
    Hard to find someone highly motivated I could totally trust.
    But I do need someone to replace me when I am sick or have something important to do. And I want to have more classes on Saturdays ( but my partner doesn’t want me to work on Sat afternoon and he is right, we need to know when to stop!We have 2 little children! )
    I always need teachers for camps too.

  3. Annie

    Hi Richard,

    as good as that advice is for big business owners, I don’t think it’s a good attitude to have towards your teachers. As a teacher, it’s incredibly stressful working under someone who fires people all the time, or for one mistake. A stressed teacher means bad vibes, which means bad lesson and unhappy kids. Relaxed teachers that know you have their back even if they’re not always perfect (I’m not sure why you think teachers should be literally perfect! We do our best!) will try their best, do brilliantly and have lots of happy kids in their class. As a boss, I think its important to treat your staff well and let them know that you value their improvement- without firing fast.

    Having said that, I’ve worked with many amazing teachers but for some pretty bad ones- I guess I don’t trust every business person to make that call. I totally agree with your hire for personality- you can’t train for that.

  4. Okafor Elizabeth

    A pefect lesson for one to learn.

  5. Miichi

    Hello Richard. I am currently in Japan. I am wondering what if my school also has childcare services, can I hire day care assistants? And if I would like to focus on teaching. Can I hire someone who will talk on the phone with the parents and will do advertising for me. Need your help thank you. And besides my Japanese is also limited.

  6. Richard Graham

    Hi Miichi,

    Childcare services come with a whole host of regulations and rules to conform to, so you’d need to look all those up and make sure you are in compliance.

    For the English side of things it’s always good to have an assistant who can deal with the parents (it frees you up to do the actual teaching) Take them on part time at first (use a voice mail service where parents can ring up and your assistant then calls them back when they are working) and they will be there mainly for support i.e. listening to parents questions etc. and signing them up, rather than actual advertising. The advertising will always be done by the kids themselves and more importantly their parents. That’s the type of advertising you need – all word of mouth recommendations on how awesome your lessons are! 🙂

  7. Richard Graham

    @Annie: The being “perfect” is that the teacher has to be a perfect fit to the culture, the values and mission of the school. We still want you to make mistakes, after all that is Genki English rule no. 2.

    And this all applies the other way around too, you should fire any boss who doesn’t fit in with your values. The firing fast doesn’t apply to suddenly changing tactics, it just means that once you realize things will never work out it’s better for everyone to move on!

  8. Sarah

    Hi Richard,
    I’m considering opening my own school with a difference…i’ll write to you in private about everything that’s in my head.
    I would need at least a couple of Young girls, fresh out of school with great personalities etc. etc. only because if ever i go down with flu (which happens)
    or lose my voice(which also happens) what would I do?
    Plus I think to be able to give 19/20 year olds the possibility to continue Learning English, having fun with the children (oh yeah, they’d have to adore children) would be great in a small town where I live and no jobs going or very underpaid ones (usually black market ones) would be fantastic for both sides.
    What do you think?

  9. Richard Graham

    Sounds perfect Sarah! These are just the types of strategies we talk about in the Genki Business course! :

  10. Zuhra

    Thanks Richard. I always walk away with gems from your posts.

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