Having taught at Windsor for nearly ten years, a period spanning almost the entire history of the school, I have seen its transformation from a fledging operation housed in cramped premises in Olympiskiy Stadium, to a school which, in spite of the fierce competition in the EFL industry in Moscow, has blossomed into a professional, educational centre with a distinctive ethos.
Unlike so many of the larger centres, which tend to be overly bureaucratic, Windsor has retained many of its founding principles which include the freedom afforded to its teachers to develop their own approach, drawing upon their own teaching style and personalities, and a heavy emphasis on customer care, which takes into account the individual needs of the students.
The teaching staff is supported by an able team of administrators, who not only do their best to facilitate the delivery of teaching programs, but also demonstrate a genuine concern for the general welfare of the teachers. Requests and queries related to leave and pay are dealt with promptly and sympathetically. Recently the school granted a salary increase in order to mitigate the currency devaluation.
As the school has expanded, professional training programs have been developed which assist new and less-experienced staff to find their feet. This year, there has been a focus on training in the teaching of young learners, and IELTS preparation courses, a staple in the school’s teaching program.
The teaching staff tend to be young and diverse, both in terms of educational background and work history. This makes for an interesting mix which can foster the enrichment of one’s teaching style with the ideas and materials of colleagues.
The school has recently adopted the lexical approach, a method which aims to ‘dethrone’ grammar and place it on an equal footing with the development of a student’s lexical resource. In other words, the method lexicalises grammar rather than the reverse. From my own experience this approach encourages a more creative engagement with the teaching materials and greater scope for students to develop vocabulary.
In retrospect, and ending on a personal note, I suppose I have been a bit of a Russophile since my teenage years. The rich literary and musical traditions together with world-class standards in the performing arts have made living in Moscow a joy. Although I can only get by in Russian, I have been able to experience Russian life from within rather than through the distorting prism of the American and European mass media. For those thinking of travelling and teaching abroad, I can confidently recommend Windsor School as a safe and secure base from which to experience this remarkable country.