A Review of Alexander Academy in Taipei (both locations)

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.

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:
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.

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This school seems to have a lot of Chinese people working for them. Is there a reason for that?

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It seems like a typical shitty buxiban, but then I read this…

Child abuse should be reported.

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This school seems to have a lot of Chinese people working for them. Is there a reason for that?

I’m not really sure how much “a lot” is since my experience at other schools is limited to subbing. All I can say is that there’s one Chinese teacher per class and then something like 15 (give or take) administrative, cleaning, and cooking Chinese employees.

Are they working legally? Perhaps this is another thing you can highlight?

That’s a heck of a lot. Is it a Chinese franchise? I’ve been here for twenty years and I’ve only ever seen Taiwanese people working at Taiwanese schools.

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Are you saying they are only paying you half as much as you originally agreed to? Did you sign a contract which stipulates your pay level? Are you getting paid at that same level?

You got there eventually, JP. I’m not sure if the NT will have dropped, though.

I worked at AA, and quit 9 months ago. I can confirm the work culture was shocking. The owner just loves to have meetings and shout at people. There was no constructive criticism or a even a clear reason she was upset. She would just yell insults at you, when you asked for clarification of what her specific criticism was she would answer with the same vague insult. In the whole time I was their she never watched me or any other teacher teach, she is just mentally unstable.

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4 posts were split to a new topic: I always advise strongly against private bilingual kindergartens

To specify I worked in the elementary part of the school. I’ve worked in many schools and I’ve never really had any major problems before. This school was by far the worst environment I’ve ever worked in.

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Ah, there’s a miscommunication here. In the school, they refer to all staff of Taiwanese/ROC origin as “Chinese.” I don’t believe it’s a PRC school.

I know a certain school that employs mostly Chinese teachers because Taiwanese refuse to work for the manager, whom the owner refuses to fire for some unknown reason.

Just noticed the above post. I’m actually referring to mainlanders on work visas.

Aaaaaaand…BEGIN!! :popcorn:

Did I say something that will make the PC police go apeshit?

I’m with @bojack… it’s too damn hard to keep up with.

What’s “PC police”?? Is it a Windows thing?

Guy

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I see the sarcasm is strong within you!

I admit that I’m a mainlander. I wish I was from Hawaii.

I was one of the people who posted a negative review of this school in the blacklist thread. I didn’t expect to see a thread pop up about them – honestly, staff turnover was so high when I was there that I wasn’t sure the school would still be around. I’m sorry to hear that things there haven’t improved.

I can confirm what the OP wrote above, particularly the bit about the owner being volatile and unpleasant, to which I’d add that in my experience she also had a penchant for talking about her employees behind their backs. (I’m not sure what she was thinking – that the staff wouldn’t compare notes?)

When I was there, the amount of prep work and paperwork we had to do was absolutely overwhelming, although it’s possible that’s changed since I left. It was really demoralizing to come in every day, try my absolute hardest to get everything done, and still feel like I was on thin ice with management.

Additionally, and I don’t think I mentioned this in my post in the other thread, when I was there we had a couple of kids with serious behavioral issues. I’m not talking about passing notes, these were students who in the US would have been in special ed. classes. I remember teachers bringing up their behavior with management several times and getting blamed for it – “That wouldn’t happen if your lessons were more engaging.” This encouraged teachers to keep it to themselves when their students acted out, which I think is very irresponsible and damaging, but understandable when one’s job (and ergo one’s ARC and residence in the country) is on the line.

I’m still in contact with many of my ex-coworkers, who’ve gone on to work at other schools where they’re much happier. I still don’t know whether there are any perfect schools out there, but I do know there are better ones to work at than this.

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