Monday, May 29, 2017

TEFLpocolypse 2017: Two Shits and a Fuck You

As I finish the first year of my contract, the future is still precarious here in China.

Last week was a tough week; I got a "fuck you" from one student and two "shits" from another one. The "fuck you" was from a fairly typical kid here -- actually pretty smart, but huge and weird looking and uninterested in absoultely anything other than watching movies in English. He never completed any of his class assignments and skipped half the tests, and his grade point average was about 25.

The admininstration was actually going to punish him severely but he fooled everyone -- his parents were shipping him off to Australia that very week. I think we can safely say he had the last word.

The other one was a little girl of 12 who looks 8 and frequently rubs her crotch when bored. Many of our students refuse to sit next to her. She never completes any of her class assignments or tests, just copying what she can and leaving the rest blank.

Actually, the kids have made a lot of progress this year. We've mostly stopped them from banging each other's heads against the wall, anyway.

See, where I work is bascially kind of a reform school, an expensive boarding school with no particular entrance requirements, populated mainly by rich kids whose parents can't or don't want to deal with them. Very few of them care about making good marks, I suppose on the grounds that they are already rich and they will continue to move up through the grades regardless as long as their parents keep paying.

As if all that weren't enough to make me doubt whether the job is worth the hassles, there are various administrative problems. Quite a few of the teachers I work with -- way more than half, about 75 percent -- aren't returning after summer. Some weren't offered new contracts; others are just leaving. A couple that were offered new contracts found they included more work hours and less holiday time,  different insurance, and no increase in salary. One guy who was promised a contract suddenly found the offer rescinded at the last minute. By all accounts, admin is paring down the staff to a skeleton crew.

Now, I like China -- this is being written in a hotel room in Shanghai with the above view.  But is it worth it? I have contracts from the two colleges in Saudi I applied for back in 2015 waiting for me in America -- I guess the Mideat hiring freeze is over. (It's about the same salary as I make here, though.)

This job, however, is my foot in the door into the world of 'international schools' -- many of which are equally shoddy and not especially 'international' but there are a lot of them, in many countries, and the pay is usually good.  I'll have my Master's in Education finished next year and I can get more international school qualifications, like the IB, in Beijing while I finish up the second year of this contract.

Saudi just leads to more Saudi, of course, in general.

Once again, X is isolated and uncertain.

So what else is new?


Anonymous said...

You're working in a Tier 3 school so you need to pay your dues, get a good reference (along with your master's) and move up the "system" of international schools. If you can land a Tier 1 gig by your mid-50s, and then retire-out at one, you should be ok.

brian said...

Scary to think you'd still have to pay dues in your late 40's. How's the Master's program going, X?

englishteacherx said...

I guess if I'd payed any dues in my 20s or 30s it would be scary. Master's degree is half finished and I'm a straight A student, for what it's worth.

Tom said...

Are you going to the online program at a brick-and-mortar school? Or strictly an online school? I've been looking at programs. There are some really good deals at online-only non-profit schools, but I don't want to get an MA at a school that isn't taken seriously.

englishteacherx said...

I'm doing one at a school that has a brick-and-mortar campus, though it's just an inexpensive state college. It's not too expensive (by American standards - only about $1500 per cclass) and i can write a lot of it off in taxes.

I would say stick with "real" schools because Saudi Arabia, just to name one place, is very suspicious of online degrees.

Tom said...

That's what I've heard. I'm younger so I guess the extra $5-7 grand isn't too big of an issue in the grand scheme of things.

Mike said...

I'm curious to know what your IS plan is without a USA state teaching credential and a subsequent 1-2 years of teaching experience in American (public) schools stateside. The last time that I checked, both were requirements to be taken seriously by legit international schools.

To reiterate, I ask only out of curiosity. Maybe things have changed, or I'm otherwise not apprised of loopholes.

Mike said...

Also, while I acknowledge that this wasn't your statement ETX, I'm curious about anon's assertion that you are working at a "tier 3" IS.

Is that the case?

It sounds to me like you are working at a private institution outside of any recognized IS school circuit. I did the same thing in S. Korea. It was a great school for rich kids from the ROK, but it wouldn't have counted a lick on my resume in an application to an IS school. They want to see credentialed experience in US schools, and secondarily they will look at credentialed experience in recognized IS schools if you have it.

I'm not trying to be pedantic; I'm merely attempting to clarify information.

P.S. This next question / comment is a bummer, but it addresses anon's comments that you should be okay if you get into a "Tier 1" school by your mid-50's. The question is whether or not you have checked into de facto age limitations when getting into the legit IS circuit. Once you are in, you are good. But I once read that the age ceiling for legit teaching experience (with a credential, in their eyes) is one's late thirties. Though, being that this is likely an unofficial limit, I'd imagine that tenacity could overcome it.

englishteacherx said...

The whole issue of is and what is not an "official' international school is a complicated one and one that is not easily quantified; there are international schools which have international students, and there are international curriculum schools, which might or might not have international students. (Generally just rich kids) The second group of schools is by far the fastest growing.

One of the largest qualifying programs for international curriculum schools is the IB, the international baccalaureate:

And I figure that's the route I will go. I know several people in their 40s and 50s who work in these schools, and they pay generally good salaries in the $3000 - $5000 a month USD range, with or without accomodation.

The who issue of working in an American school on an embassy compound or an army base, for example, is not something I was especially interested in anyway, and the only places that I know which definitely prefer to hire people in their 20s and 30s are the shitty by-the-hour language schools, like the ones I worked at during most of my 20s and 30s.