I am posting this review of Alexander Academy in Taipei in its own thread in hopes that it will get picked up by search engines. ALL details are relevant to the Xinyi (Guangfu) branch, and most details will still be relevant to the Daan (Xinsheng) branch.
- They have strong, reasonable philosophy around what a quality education is.
- As I write this (January 2020), there are no consequences for breaking your contract, which is good because you will probably want to quit.
Undoubtedly, I forgot some of details about my awful experience at Alexander Academy, so the following is an incomplete list of cons:
- The owner is the worst communicator I’ve ever met. She will not hesitate to lie to you to get what she wants. You can’t trust anything she says. She is always on the edge of throwing a tantrum, constantly shaking, laughing nervously, and her voice quivering. Every couple of months, she flies into a rage, screaming at people over complete nonsense. She’s good at first impressions, but don’t let that fool you. There is no doubt that she has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which you will find out if you work for her. You are not allowed to disagree with her. You may only praise her, otherwise she will start shaking and possibly screaming. She has the emotional maturity of a toddler. Here’s a quote of her giving someone feedback about their weekly brainstorm: “Yeah, your brainstorm is really bad. Really, it’s quite terrible. It needs to be better. This school is a whole language learning school, and yeah, this is just not good at all.” This is her speaking style. She speaks broadly with significant negativity and has no ability to discuss specific details in a positive way.
- You get paid literally half of what you can earn at any other job as an ESL/EFL teacher. The reason that people accept this is that the school’s teaching philosophy is good and the owner is good at first impressions. Again, don’t let it draw you in. Not only will you hate your job, but you will get paid half of what you could elsewhere. The low pay is completely unnecessary. The owners are very wealthy. I ran into their “friends” outside of work once, and they told me about how nice their house & cars are and how the owner even talks down to her friends as if she’s superior to them.
- Middle management (i.e. the “Head Teachers”) only advocate for the owner and will NEVER advocate for the teachers. If you raise any issues about the school with them, their first response is to get angry at you and tell you to be quiet and “know your role.” If you continue to raise such issues, they might try a softer response, but they are only paying lip service to get you to be quiet. Even if they agree with you, they will never take a stand for what’s right. They will only ever kiss the owner’s feet.
- The HR & Operations executive is a kind, reasonable person to interact with, but unfortunately, he’s not good at his job. When you’re doing onboarding paperwork, things will constantly fall through the cracks and you have to remind him several times about important tasks. Additionally, even though he’s head of operations, he is completely removed from the day-to-day operations of the school and has no idea what types of issues exist. Although he’s a nice guy, he has admitted to me that he’s “very lazy.”
- There’s a very high turnover rate, so you constantly see new faces. There’s literally no effort made to make new employees feel welcome, not even a name introduction. Literally nothing. One of the foreign kindy teachers had 4 different Chinese teachers in a span of 5 months because turnover was so high. Also, staff is never notified in advance when someone joins the team, even if you’re going to work directly with that person.
- There’s a big rift between Chinese staff & Foreign staff. Management asks Chinese staff to report on Foreign staff without the knowledge of Foreign staff. This would be acceptable in some circumstances, but they do this in place of any form of communication whatsoever. This contributes to an “us” and “them” mentality rather than a strong team dynamic.
- Chinese staff is explicitly encouraged to make negative reinforcement their default behavior management system while Foreign staff is told to make positive reinforcement the default. Chinese staff constantly yell at the kids and sometimes even push them on the floor or yank on their arms really hard. Chinese staff will often preempt undesirable behavior by yelling at children before they even do anything wrong.
- Some Chinese staff are really nice when they first start; however, it usually only takes about 1-2 weeks for them to become extremely negative and abusive due to the culture of spite and resentment.
- When a child wets themselves (it happens at kindergarten ages), the Chinese staff is responsible for cleaning it up. They do not even use cleaning solution to wipe it up. They just take a water-damp rag and mop it up (and then everyone wonders why the whole school is getting sick all the time).
- The school is incredibly messy, disorganized, and in disrepair. An example: A plywood board that had been stapled onto a cupboard door frame was coming off and had staples sticking out of the back. As it was coming off, kids could see a big opening in the door and stick their hands through it, risking cutting themselves on the staples or plywood. It took the school nearly a month to fix this. There are many other areas of chaos and no plans to fix them.
- Middle & upper management blames absolutely everything on the teachers. There is no sense of personal responsibility with management.
- You often (not always) have to pay for your own supplies like pens, markers, etc. If you request such supplies, they will pretend like they might get them for you but then just never act on it.
- They just don’t care about you. Everything is about the owner.
Do not work for Alexander Academy.