Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Winter of TEFL Teachers Discontent

This is the period where most TEFL teachers in Thailand start to get twitchy.

I am not talking about those backpackers who are here for a couple of months or those who have a history of doing a moonlight flit from one school to another. I am talking about those poor deluded fools who actually try and do the right thing and stay with a school for a full year and try and do their best for the kids. I would like to think I am in this latter category - even though I get frustrated, even though I get angry at the stupidity of them and the whole situation. At the end of the day, I still try and do the right thing.

Now, why are so many people twitchy? Contracts and jobs for the new school year. That's why. A lot of schools haven't a clue what going on next year and don't tell the teachers. The teachers are left with no idea if they have a job, have to find a new one, need to make arrangements for new work permits and so on.

A basic sort of timetable is this

January - teachers begin to ask schools what is happening. Schools begin to ask their board what is happening.

February - teachers ask again what is happening. Schools haven't decided yet what to tell the teachers.

March - teachers start applying for new jobs but there aren't may around as a lot of schools don't know what is happening. Schools decide to wait until after the holidays before making a decision.

April - teachers run around in circles trying to organise a new job and their work permit and visa. Schools cant make decisions because everyone is on holiday.

May - teachers have gone to Japan, USA, UK etc in disgust to be replaced with a new batch of frantic teachers trying to find jobs. Schools realise that term started last week and maybe they ought to advertise.

June - the situation settles down as teachers start to find jobs......

in Taiwan

Schools are still trying to organise timetables and interviews. Students wonder what the hell is going on with the 4th teacher of the year, as any teachers that have been hired have quit because of the chaos.

OK, a bit of an exaggeration but not as much as you might think in some schools.

In a way, at least I know what's happening. I have to get a new job. But it could mean I don't move school. The reason for that is the agency I work for has lost the contract to provide teachers. The school is now going to employ the teachers direct and in fact I saw the advert for it on Sunday. Hmm, should I apply for it considering all I have said.

Well, the answer actually is probably. Because with it going direct, it may provide a better deal than I have just now. Better working relationships with the Thai staff, better pay and so on. OR it could be a complete disaster. Who knows?

The only thing that is certain is that I am now applying for a few jobs, including some International Schools where basically I know I haven't a chance in hell but have decided to try anyway. The worst that can happen is I don't get a reply. Unless of course they phone up and ask me if I applied as some sort of bet! :(

But going back to the broader picture, just who is to blame for all this uncertainty and confusion?

Well, from where I am, it lies with everyone involved to an extent but the majority does lie with the schools in not making plans for the unexpected event called "NEXT SEMESTER" Add in the mix of any new regulations that the government has added, any change of management at the school who wants to change things around and well......

It has to be said that there are some teachers out there who don't help. Agreeing to start a job, getting a second one and then not bothering to either tell the first school they aren't coming or turn up for 1 day or even not turning up in the country!. Which means the school needs to go through the whole hiring thing again.

How can it be improved? Well, a bit of planning wouldn't go amiss from the schools. Some idea for existing teachers on how many are going to be kept on, putting out adverts in February for vacancies in May. On the teachers side, keeping the school informed if they cant take up the position would be a great help to a lot of the "better" schools.

Add all that up, you will still get stuff going on that wasn't expected or planned for and last minute emergencies and changes but it couldn't be any worse than what's happening now.

Could it?

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