“On the advice of Medvedev went into business”: the story of a school teacher who opened her own business
As you know, recently Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev advised Russian teachers complaining about low salaries to change their profession and go into business: “This is a vocation, and if you want to earn money, there are lots of great places where you can do it faster and better,” he said. Ekaterina Kalashnikova, founder and head of the Glasha Skype school, shares her personal history of creating her own business, describing the difficulties and obstacles she had to overcome
Not so long ago, the Department of education launched the process of combining schools and kindergartens into huge educational complexes. After this merger, instead of five Directors, only one remained, respectively, and he only needs to pay one salary. Teachers, doctors, nurses, speech therapists, and other psychologists have been cut in the same way.
Thanks to this process, about 15% of teachers were left out. Some of them had to, as the unforgettable Ostap Bender said, “re-qualify as managers”, and these Golden words of his directly echo the thoughts of our Prime Minister. I was one of the lucky ones who had new horizons opened up for them.
Not without pride, I would like to note that the cuts were made mainly by bright people who have their own opinions and independent character. Mostly, they were those who disagreed with the reform. After listening to the last parting words of the Director, I decided that “not the gods burn pots”, and decided to create my own school.
By that time, I had little experience in organizing Skype classes for my children. I have three children and I naturally want a successful future for them. It is no secret that for a favorable start, you need to know English, since all the most interesting materials in scientific communities are published in English and have not been translated into Russian for a long time.
On the advice of a classmate who twenty years ago graduated from Moscow state University with a red diploma and went to Canada with full confidence that he knows English, I began to look for lessons with native speakers, remembering the horror with which he wrote about his first impressions on Novaya Zemlya. In the first month on arrival, our excellent student did not understand a word. The situation was aggravated by the fact that he spoke in principle well, using all the tenses beautifully. This gave the Canadians the impression that their new Russian friend had sufficient command of the language to be able to throw out a lot of slang expressions and old jokes.
To this day, he can’t look without pity at Russian first-year students, who can be identified by an awkward smile and a frozen expression on their faces when the interlocutor asks something and has already left without waiting for an answer from this crank, and our man is still standing and building a grammatical construction of the answer in his mind.
In order to improve the image of our students abroad, a friend of mine found a foreign English teacher for my children at his University of Ottawa who agreed to give lessons via Skype. For me, it was a gift of fate. All my children are very different, each required an individual program. The canadian teacher managed to find the right approach to everyone.
Soon the news of the new method of teaching and the magic teacher spread among my friends, then, like ripples on water, the information went to the masses. After a while, all the free slots of the first teacher were occupied and he invited his colleague to teach lessons for students from Russia. As time passed, the number of teachers and students increased. As it turned out, in Canada, teachers do not get much and are also ready to listen to Medvedev’s advice.
The collaboration was very successful. Canadians were delighted with our children! “Russian children are so amazing!”- they admired, ” Very talented! Yesterday I didn’t know anything, but today I’m already talking with all my might.” They sincerely could not believe that a person had previously studied English at school for 7-10 years. The first session with the host was particularly effective. The eleven-year-olds couldn’t answer any simple questions, they babbled something unintelligible. And already in the second lesson, the passive stock of knowledge began to turn into an active one, making the teachers admire.
Based on this small learning model, I decided to create a professional language school. And resolutely set to work. At this critical moment, I was extremely lucky. Probably, in all successful projects there is some element of luck, when the stars in the sky are aligned correctly and people who are destined to meet meet together. The discovery of a professional canadian Methodist in English was so fateful for our company. This person not only helped us make methods for 12 levels of the language, but also helped and still helps in finding and training competent, charismatic, teachers.
He teaches a course for teachers at the University of Ottawa, which allows us to be at the forefront of new trends in teaching, using special intelligent platforms. It develops language teaching methods for introverted teenagers, dyslexics, dysgraphics, teenagers with hyperactive behavior, etc.
So, the issue of selecting teachers was resolved. It was necessary to take on the structure of the company. First of all, I bought a hosting service and a domain, after checking the meaning of these words on the Internet. I thought it would be a simple task to come up with a name for the project. How wrong I was! It seemed logical to use the word ENGLISH in the title. However, I unexpectedly found myself at this moment faced with the problem of the Millennium — all sites using this word were already busy.
I experimented for several hours. But that’s not all. Falling into despair, I began to type all the familiar words in English — and you will not believe it! All domains were occupied! Getting into a rage, I typed all the phrases that came to mind, such as MashaInternationalandGlashaLimited. And, lo and behold! The Glasha domain was free!
It was an absurd, funny, but memorable name.
Over time, the number of languages we have expanded to 13, and this name has become our unique brand, no longer associated with teaching English. The number of students increases towards foreign non-Russian speakers. For them, this name no longer seems exotic. Often now in my correspondence you can find the address Hello, Glasha, and sometimes even “Glasha-San”.
So the baby was given a name and had to take care of its immediate needs. At this stage, some investments were needed. Now everyone is obsessed with organizing online schools. Young” gurus ” of business sweetly sing to their target groups in their ears that you can get millions on online education. I just laugh.
First, I am so old that I still remember Herbolife with their “first-level partners”, and second, I would probably believe them if I didn’t know all the business processes of creating an online school from the inside. The boys are right about one thing: creating such a business is possible with minimal costs.
I made my first website on my knee, just following the instructions in Google. I learned how to insert photos and crop videos myself, and write content to an FB group. I read the comments of those who want to learn the language in the public FB and LJ and wrote them in personal messages, I handed out leaflets at the entrance to educational exhibitions. She kept accounts and read books on marketing. I worked without exaggeration 24 hours a day. Constantly answered messages and monitored test lessons in different time zones. After 3 years of this life, I needed the help of a psychotherapist and antidepressants.
As a result, I realized that working in this mode can ruin my life. Delegating authority was difficult, but ultimately the right decision. She conducted 18 interviews and invited two assistants based on the results. My eye literally twitched when I checked their work. The fact is that I knew the first hundred students personally. I knew everything about them, down to their pet names. And I had to leave communication with them in the wrong hands. The thought of it was unbearable.
The communication scheme in our Skype school is as follows: all assistants write in one Skype. In the morning, serious Alexander-in the evening, laughing Anastasia. Thus, Glasha’s interlocutors may have a wrong opinion about the school’s work. In the morning, everyone is serious, and in the evening, apparently, they drink…
However, oddly enough, soon the assistants became as attached and loved our students as I was. the System now consists of 8 people: a Manager, an accountant, a programmer, a specialist in working with social networks, a methodologist for working with teachers, and assistants. Recently, we had a great joy-there was a third assistant, a former student of ours.
Since I like to model ecological systems (like aquariums and anthills), business suddenly turned out great too. My University knowledge came in handy. It turns out that the basic principles of stability of the business system and ecosystem are very similar 🙂 for Example, the dependence of the number of individuals in the population required for reproduction of the genus is exactly correlated with the number of customers needed to form a stable sales funnel.
My salary, however, is now exactly the same as that of a biology teacher, a big Hello to the Prime Minister and his taxes! However, I began to understand my former headmistress better. I have as many problems as she does, and maybe even more. At the moment, we have 75 teachers and almost 500 students. The youngest is 6 years old, the oldest is 76 years old.