Has professionalism just gone out the window?

I was thinking this after reading of [url=http://tw.forumosa.com/t/kaohsiung-dominican-school-evil-across-the-street/61574/1 situation[/url]. It seems with the market crowded with teachers and there not being a high demand for them at the moment, some school owners seem to have forgotten all about basic professional courtesy. An example (not the worst situation, but rude nonetheless) is when I called a school about a job and the conversation goes something like this…
A: Hello. My name is WLL. I heard you were offering a job on Tealit…
B: We found a teacher already. (Click)
A: Well, if you are look… (Then I realize they hung up on me :doh:)

Other situations can be where they schedule a demo class for you, only for you to come in and they have forgotten their appointment with you and have hired a teacher already. There are other such things. :bluemad:
If professionalism were followed during the job screening process something might occur; They might find teachers who suit the school better and not have to fire them often. At lease the hanging up on me tells me that I don’t want to work there in the first place.

Was there ever any professionalism?

This is the crux of the biscuit.

The only professionalism I observed in Taiwan was to appear as if you were working when the boss was around.

I think housecat’s situation is a tragedy of epic proportions. It’s one thing for that kind of thing to happen in the buxiban system, but at a private, international school? Further stories of people having the phone hung up on them because a position had already been filled are also disgraceful.

Taiwan is in need of serious educational reform in many ways. I don’t know what degree that should, or will, happen organically or from government interference. It also needs to attract people who really care and who really try to be professional. The blatant slap in the face that has happened to housecat will cause not so subtle or minor ripples. Others may read or hear about her case. If enough such stories occur, then a place gains a reputation that is not good and it’s a downward spiral from there.

Most of us will come and go, and even if we have some bad experiences here, we can put them behind us. However, it will be the people who stay here for the long term (whether Taiwanese or foreigners) who have the most to lose in all of this, and thus have the most to gain from trying to raise the bar of professionalism here. Perhaps parents here need to ask a few more probing questions. It’s important for their long-term future (as individuals and as a nation) to reward and encourage teachers who make hard decisions in the short-term and who don’t just give out high grades and candy willy-nilly. Firstly, it’s a sad indictment upon parents and other adults in this country if they don’t educate themselves a little better about education, and that their elected representatives don’t do likewise. Secondly, it’s a sad indictment upon them if they don’t demand greater transparency from schools and teachers about how their kids are really behaving and performing. Finally, it’s a sad indictment if they don’t reward and encourage those teachers who work towards good educational outcomes.

However, since applying for my current job, I have been treated with respect and in good faith the whole way. Things aren’t always perfect, but my current boss gives me a very large degree of autonomy and he and I discuss different things that are going on in the school and he actively responds to these discussions and my concerns. He and I are both on the same page in terms of wanting to achieve better long-term outcomes here. At this stage, the things that would drive me away from working here (and in Taiwan generally) are out of his hands, namely: 1) better compensation and benefit packages elsewhere, 2) better living and working opportunities for my wife, 3) a restlessness regarding Taiwan and a desire to experience other places. If more people had bosses like mine, there’d be a much different story here.

Scott: I know some people will get bent out of shape at the idea of government interfering in the way I’m about to propose, but it already does in other ways. The government could set up a (semi-)independent organisation that would be responsible for monitoring and maintaining standards. I know there could be a whole lot of problems with that organisation either being too easily influenced by others or, at the other extreme, becoming a law unto itself. I guess the ultimate problem is one of good governance and corruption generally in Taiwan. Anyway, I think there should be a move, over a reasonable period of time, to professionalise English teaching here. Require degrees in a relevant field, including with some sort of practical element (that is assessed). Do that for the government and university systems.

Regarding the buxiban system, if the normal education system were doing a decent job, then it would be superfluous. The main issue there is the over-reliance of mainstream education on inane multiple-choice tests rather than English proficiency, coupled with teacher training in this country at the university level that is decades behind the field in general. What would make a lot of sense would be two things. Firstly, find out who is doing English teaching well, and then go and copy them. That isn’t rocket science. Secondly, commit enough resources to producing high-quality English teachers for the mainstream system here. Throw scholarships at them, send them abroad, whatever (obviously with some strings attached though), but produce a large cohort of top notch Taiwanese English teachers and/or supplement that with high quality foreigners if necessary (and really, it’s probably not necessary). They could turn the education system in this country into a little English-speaking powerhouse within a decade.

As it is, the buxiban system is a massive drain on this society. I don’t even believe people do necessarily want it per se because most are not in an informed position to really comment on it. I don’t believe people can claim informed consent. It’s quite analogous to some of the dodgy financial products full of mumbo jumbo that few people understand/understood that led to the recent Global Financial Crisis. Many of those who are somewhat informed about this field, or who have actually thought about it for two seconds, find the whole thing incredibly frustrating. If they have the money, they often send their kids to international schools or send them abroad. However, I think that if mainstream education were doing its job in this country, people generally wouldn’t see the need to support such a massive buxiban system. Outside of East Asia, the rest of the developed world doesn’t have such an enormous parallel system and it actually produces better results. It’s really bizarre, actually how much time and money is thrown at this and how poor the results are.

I would like to say that the issue of professionalism goes beyond just the teacher’s performance in the classroom and extends to their treatment in the office. This has nothing to do with being Taiwanese or being a foreigner. The point that I am trying to make is that professional treatment in the office will lead to better performance at the job, whatever that job is.
Some places try hard to appear professional. Their buildings are clean. The classrooms look beautiful. Some of the quality of the teaching going on at the place may appear to be very good. True professionalism goes beyond all this.
One place that I once worked at in Taiwan used the term ‘international school’ liberally. They used the name of a prestigeous English University along with calling themselves an American International to sound pretentious. If I used their real name, this post would probably be deleted. So, I will call them Kaoshiung, Cambridge, Canadian, Interplanetary School. In their training sessions, they said that they had ‘high standards.’ While working in their school, one of their favorite teachers (an Englishman) decided he didn’t like me very much and made it his mission to make my life hell for the year. This person was basically an office bully and tried to harrass me subtly so the boss (a Canadian) didn’t notice it or think it was a big deal when I tried to complain about it to him. The bully made jokes about my genitals :fume: . The boss did nothing about it. Another time a co-worker decided she loved a song on the radio and decided to turn it and not only sing the song aloud in front of the whole office, but also dance in the office to it. I asked her politely to please stop and to turn it down and she said ‘no’ and told me to leave the office, if I didn’t like it :bluemad: . The Canadian boss did nothing. I had to go to another room and prepare my lessons. On both these days I got in trouble for not being prepared for my classes. This is working in an office that is ‘foreign managed.’
Another time I went in to teach my class (properly prepared this time) and one of the managers was trying to take a class picture. They hadn’t told me before that they would be doing this. My Chinese teacher and I had the class standing in front of the camera and ready. The manager started yelling at us because she couldn’t figure out how to operate the camera. I mean they probably heard her in the next room. She then got frustrated. I asked her if she was going to take the picture and she told me to ‘shut up’ in front of my class of third graders. I followed her as she was leaving and she slammed the door in my face so closely that she almost got me in the nose. I asked her if she was coming back and she said nothing. I then tried to teach what was left of my class and somebody else came back five minutes later and took the picture. Basically the class was ruined by the administration.
What I am saying by bringing up these stories is saying that there is a connection between professional treatment from the administration and your performance in the classroom. This is true wherever you are working. Buxiban or real international school.
All the people in these stories, except the one taking the picture, are foreigners. There are times when I think the term ‘foreign managed’ doesn’t really mean much here in Taiwan. There are times when foreign managers are not ver professional. It is as Pogo said, ‘I have met the enemy and he is us.’ :2cents:

Another thing I would like to say is that I think part of the lack of professionalism has to do with the fact that many managers at some schools are very young. Their youth may make them good teachers, but they will have noe experience leading people. Maturity matters.

Why might youth make them good teachers? Better oiled joints for Heads and Shoulders Knees and Toes perhaps?

I wouldn’t let my kid be taught in any subject by anyone under 30. Experience matters.

I would like to add that the lack of professionalism goes both ways. I’ve interviewed many people who clearly couldn’t give a rat’s ass about coming on time, looking respectable, or acting professional. And don’t get me started on the resumes… :unamused:

Overall, from both sides, the cram school business is often a gong show.

I promise you it wouldn’t. :thumbsup:

Yes, this thread has gone quite :offtopic: . Actually, some of these post would be more appropriat in some of the other forums that have sprung up lately. My point was many institutions here have no sense of general propriety when it comes to proper behavior in an office. This is true of any industry from teaching English to selling Sattlelite TV services.
This isn’t just about hiring qualified teachers. This is about how we can improve situations for all of us, regardless of where we work, by using professionalism to promote a culture of mutual respect in the office :wink: . Since many English teaching jobs are entry level, I am beginning to think it is going to be difficult tko achieve a high level of professionalism in Taiwan due to office managers lack of experience.

I sent the posts Whole Lotta Lotta refers to above here: viewtopic.php?f=35&t=82431&start=180#p1226219

I promise you it wouldn’t. :thumbsup:[/quote]
The name of the school? Kaoshiung= Taipei. Cambridge= Oxford. Interplanetary= International. Canadian=American. School= School. It is located in Neihu. I think the boss I was refering to sometimes reads these threads, and I hope he sees this :laughing: .

I promise you it wouldn’t. :thumbsup:[/quote]
Sigh! :s The name of the school is Taipei Oxford International American School.

So, my CV is out there all over the place. Yesterday, I was called by a local buxiban to come in and talk about a JOB. Yesterday started out for me in on a train to TaiJong (sp?) and I didn’t get back until about 8:30. I went straight to the buxiban then and when I arrived they told me they had 3 hr.s a week, kindy, for which I’d need to demo. But they really wanted me because I’m so highly qualified.

Couldn’t they have just told me they had only three hours a week up front?

And in TaiJong, the bi-lingual school I interview at is a twenty minute cab ride from the train station. Once I got to the school, the guy who I needed to talk to was 20 minutes late and he didn’t offer to pick up cab fare, train fare, or even spring for a lunch box or bottle of water! I was there all day and had brought my son with me, too, as there was no one to leave him with.

They’re at least offering a full time job–with enough work for THREE teachers, and pitiful pay. It’s tough out there for a pimp!

But my point here is that no–there’s not a lot of professionalism anywhere. I mean I know that an employer isn’t obliged to pay for your transportation or your lunch—it’s just that these small gestures are thoughtful and helpful. Common courtesy and kindness would go a long, long way.

What I’ve learned is this: what you consider professional or ‘of a certain standard’ just doesn’t fly here. Working in Japan, I was always reimbursed for my transportation by an employer or a client if I was invited out to their site. Here in Wan, I always request via email transportation reimbursement (such as a cab fare from the train station). I have to, they won’t do it unless I do.

I phone interviewed for a job that would take me out into the sticks. The company was situated in a really remote area and relocating to be near it was not possible. So you either live in the suburbs of Taipei and drive (no train) to the office or use train/taxi. After negotiating on the phone for an in-person meeting time, how to get there and some reimbursement, I said, “Send me an email so I can accept this information. It helps me use Google Maps to get English directions and I can make a note of how much I need to spend on transportation and how much you will reimburse.” Never heard from them again. I consider it a litmus test. Maybe I was asking too much in a climate where the employer is king. But maybe I saved myself a boatload of hassle in the future. Take this as a warning, HH.

Although non-teaching, I’ve never had a prospective employer offer to pay for lunch or travel, if they see hundreds of people or even 20-or 30 thats pretty damn expensive for them, but drinks of any sort are just a common courtesy. But for me it shows a lack of professionalism when they turn up late, it also shows a lack of respect that they would expect me to wait around for them.

Having been made to wait that long I’d seriously question whether i wanted to work for them. I realize punctuality isn’t such a big deal here but it matters to me.

housecat: I’m with MilkTeaJack on this one. Consider it a learning experience. You need to vet them first to see how serious they are. Write down a list of information you need to know regarding anything and everything important you can think of. Ask others (here if necessary) to add questions to your list. A professional employer would be happy to answer such questions precisely because it’s not in his or her interest to have a misunderstanding and then have an employee leave a month later.

Of course, this does indeed mean that you’ll probably eliminate 98% of employers, but I’m assuming that’s a good thing. If it gets to a state of desperation, then it’s a matter of beggars can’t be chosers anyway, so then you disregard your list.

Reminds me of the time a school called me, after getting my name from some unidentified third party. They invited me to an interview, and before agreeing I asked them about the salary.

OK, so it needs to be decided after meeting, but you can make it clear that you’re expecting to be paid within a certain range. I did this, and asked them if they still wanted to see me.

So, after spending several hours travelling, interviewing, demo-ing, we excitedly sat down to discuss money.

They then informed me that nobody in their organisation earned as much as my absolute minimum. At the time that was 700 or 800 per hour, I can’t remember precisely.

What’s the fucking point? I mean, why waste everyone’s time when they have already told you that they won’t accept your pay scale?

Taiwanese people don’t fucking listen, that’s half the problem.