This is mostly a rant, I apologize in advance. I realize all of these problems are probably a result of me and my own shortcomings (I’m idealistic and serious), not the system. But just to see what it yields, I’m going to turn off this loftiness and be a selfish fingerpointer.
What kills me about this whole scenario is that I’ve seen 3 part-time foreign teachers quit my school, much to the chagrin of the administration. But the one full-timer who is willing to stay, they don’t want! And wait, it gets better… all of this at a time when foreigners are fleeing the country, and most places can’t find one! You bet your tush my pride is hurting.
So here’s the story. I was recently called in to the office of the Chairman of the Board at the private Jr. High where I teach, and was told in subtle terms that I would not be needed after this July. Totally sudden and unexpected. This hit me like a bomb. It was a secure job, well-paying, no tykes to babysit, no taxes, and a good name. At the beginning of this semester, this same dude hinted that he’d like me to stay as many years as possible. Quite a u-turn, huh?
Chinese vagueness gets to me sometimes. The chairman said I didn’t meet his expectations, and would not elaborate. This is after I busted by butt for this place. I DESIGNED A CURRICULUM for English conversation singlehandedly, for chrissakes! I was tough in the classroom, and always had an uphill battle to be taken seriously by the students as a “real teacher”, but fight that battle I did. I fostered an interactive classroom environment with give and take, something unheard of before I made an appearance there. I graded 60 essays a week, complete with as much as a page of comments and corrections each!!!
I did explode at classes that were chock full of jerks sometimes. I was visibly angry and frustrated sometimes in the teachers’ office when a lesson I gave was poorly received. I put my foot down a few times to the administration when they asked me to do something I felt was unreasonable. I would not let them show me off on a TV commercial. I would not let them house another [Taiwanese] teacher with me, something they never told me I was obligated to do. I felt I had racked up enough good karma by my sincere and pithy work in the classroom to afford to not bend on these things.
Wrong. Truth is, as a low man on the totem pole, my hard work did not pay for my relaxed and laid-back manner in dealing with my fellow teachers and the administration. The school probably wanted somebody conservative and shallow. Collared shirt, plastic smile, and crisp "yessir"s to those in power, but a game-player devoid of substance in the classroom.
But at the same time, the administration did little to earn MY respect either. They gave me ZILCH in the way of teaching materials, explanation of the Taiwanese school system and where the kids are at, and guidance in planning the curriculum. They gave me 40-50 kids a class, each class meeting only once a week. Conversation? Ha! They never hesitated to badger me for grades FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL STUDENT 3 times a semester, though!
If the Taiwanese government wants to invite a whole whole slew of fresh-faced laowai to teach in Jr. highs around the country, they had better give them plenty of training, and plenty of resources to fall back on. Otherwise, this money could be better spent.