This is one of the harsh realities of teaching in Taiwan. It’s true that–usually–a teacher is worth more after a year or two of experience. If that teacher actually stays at the school where they started out for all that experience it’s even better because it shows the teacher’s sense of loyalty to the school and sense of efficacy towards their students and the job.
But this added value is only temporal. There is always another English speaking warm body stumbeling of a plane in Taipei or Koahsiung looking for a great teaching gig.
I have a friend who has worked for only two schools in Taiwan. She worked for three years at her first job. She was hired at 500 per hr. and eventually earned 550. She married and had a baby, then decided to leave her husband and return to the States. She lived in the States for three years and decided to move back to Taiwan with said husband.
The school she had worked at was very small. She was always the only full time teacher, but she and her boss got along very, very well. When she left, the boss said to call her if she decided to come back–so three years later that’s what she did. The boss said, sure come on back, and I’ll even pay you 600 per hr. My wise friend jumped on it.
At this school the hours were variable and a lot of prep time and flexibility were required of her, but she never, ever had to deal with unruly kids or crazy parents. The boss put in as much or more effort than my friend and trully cared if the kids learned. Yes, the boss needes to make money–she’s a single parent who’s husband was killed in an accident–but she actually takes the education of the kids seriously.
My friend is also a single parent in Taiwan now, so decided that it would be better to take a job in an elementary school that offered stable hours that were the same hours her daughter is in school. It also worked out to more money, but not a lot more.
She hates this new job. She says the job is hard enough, but she has to do anchinban hours that are insane–no discipline at all there and she’s made the scapegoat for any troubles that come up. She’s going to finish out the year, but swears she’ll quit next year if they expect her to do anchinban–of course they will.
The fact is, even in a good economy, there is just no real leverage. A good working environment is worth a hell of a lot. Better jobs can likely still be found, but they’re rare in the first place. If you feel that you’ve outgrown your job, you probably have. I mean that with nothing but respect. You’re just facing the delima that everyone eventually does in Taiwan. It’s easy to stay and keep living a relatively easy life treading the professional waters, but you start to realize you’re not getting anywhere cause there’s no place to go.