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What Exactly Is A Head Teacher?

Posted by Lindsay Hall on 6/23/18 3:01 PM


If you're applying or about to head out for your first ILP semester, you may have heard some chatter about head teachers. You may know that you will have one and that you can go back as one, but have you really heard exactly what an ILP head teacher is and does?

You might have heard that head teachers get to go abroad with ILP for basically free — but that's not all the perks and responsibilities to this position ... this is probably is one of the main reasons why many people chose ILP over other organizations. 

Another reason many people choose ILP is how ILP keeps you safe. 

Head teachers are a vital part of your semester abroad and it's important to know exactly who they are and what their role is. Plus, if you want volunteer again but this time as a head teacher (like Ariel did during her seven ILP semesters), you'll need to know exactly what your role will be.

What is an ILP head teacher and what to do they do?

  • Peer-Age Leader Of The Group
  • Have Been On AN ILP Semester Before
  • Have Been Interviewed  By The Directors
  • Act As The Middle Man Between The School And ILP
  • Perform Trainings And Evaluations
  • Ensure All rules Are Being Followed
  • Are There To Help Their ILP Group Members
  • (And These Perks) 

Peer-Age Leader Of The Group

A head teacher is typically within the same age range as the volunteers in their group (18-25). We send head teachers that are within the same age range as their group so they can better relate and hopefully develop a good friendship with each member of the group, which is a huge part of the ILP experience. 

Have Been On An ILP Semester Before

A requirement to even apply to be a head teacher is they have to have at least one ILP semester completed. 

This is a requirement is because ILP's teaching method is different than any other teaching method you would learn in school, even if you've gone to college to become a teacher. Dr. Trevor Mckee came up with a method we use called Duolingual Education that has been very effective for our ILP kids and we want to make sure our Head Teacher is familiar with that method before helping others. 

Since the head teacher has been on ILP before and has a semester of teaching experience behind them, they will be equipped to hold trainings for their teachers and help them with teaching as best they can. 

Have Been Interviewed And Selected By The Directors

The process to become a head teacher is a little different than becoming a volunteer. Head Teachers are required to be interviewed, plus our directors look at how well that potential  head teacher did on their previous ILP semester(s).  We only select head teachers who followed all the rules, did well teaching, got along with their group, etc. 

The directors will select the best candidates and place them in the school they feel they will do the best job in. Because head teachers play such an important role, they have the ability to have a large impact on the entire group that semester ... this is why ILP directors do what they can to choose the best candidates.

Act As The Middle Man Between The School and ILP

Since ILP staff can't be in every country and school, the head teachers play an important role as the middle man. While ILP will do their best to work directly with the schools, sometimes it works better to have someone there that can handle some of the responsibilities and talk to the school. 

There is a local coordinator at each school -- a local that speaks English -- that the head teacher works hand in hand with to help ensure that the program is running as expected; both the head teacher and local coordinator work together to manage and handle potential problems. 

Performs Trainings And Evaluations

Head teachers aren't volunteering to teach English, but they will be performing evaluations on the teachers, as well as hosting weekly training meetings.

Each week, the head teacher follows a curriculum of skills to be addressed and practiced in the subsequent ILP lessons. Head teachers sit in on lessons and make sure curriculum is being followed, and give feedback to help teachers improve. The word "evaluation" sounds scary, but it really isn't. The head teacher is there to help you improve, not give you harsh grade. 

If someone is struggling with teaching, the head teacher can also take over for one or two of their classes and teach an example lesson. They may also fill in as a substitute if volunteers are sick. The head teacher is really there for whatever problems arise during teaching and they are there to help. 

Ensure That Rules Are Being Followed

You should have heard about the code of conduct and rules in your ILP Volunteer interview -- here they are just in case you aren't familiar with them. One of the head teacher's responsibilities is to make sure all volunteers are following these rules, and handle the situation appropriately if rules are not being followed. 

Are There To Help Their Group Members

Head teachers are there to help you with teaching, but they are also there to help their group members deal with anything else along the way like homesickness, if your wallet gets taken, sickness, planning vacations ... just about anything! They are ideally meant to be your go-to person while you live abroad. 

Our head teachers don't know everything though (remember most of them have only lived abroad for one semester). So while they have a quite a bit of experience, they may need to contact ILP for questions they aren't sure about before they get back to you.

(And These Perks) 

One of the coolest parts of becoming a head teacher is that the costs are significantly cheaper than when you volunteered.  For our Exchange Programs, the program fee is waived and for the Humanitarian Programs there is a steep discount for head teachers. Plus you also receive a spending stipend for your semester (to help pay for the fun stuff like vacations and whatever else you may need while you're abroad). In many cases you can spend a semester abroad for practically no cost this way!

Being a head teacher was how I was able to go on ILP four times! It's a great and affordable way to travel the world while giving back at the same time.


Sounds like something you'd love to do? 

If you're interested in becoming a head teacher, make sure you read up on how to show you're head teacher material and everything you need to know before you're a head teacher

If you have more questions about becoming a head teacher, make sure you click the button below to text one of our awesome ILP representatives!

 Text Me! I've Got Questions

Topics: All About ILP + Volunteering, Tips For Your Twenties

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Hi! We are ILP, a non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. We share our tips for making the most of your time traveling and living abroad.

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