It’s an important consideration, thank you for pointing it out.
So, why become a public school teacher rather than a buxiban teacher? It’s starting to look like the best reason is stable hours with comparatively high pay, but based on the descriptions of @nz and @cats_meow, I’m not sure what I would be accomplishing as a teacher unless you happen to get put with the right class at the right school. At buxibans, strange to say, much of time I did feel like I was doing something that mattered, though it could always have been much, much better. I’ve been doing the math, and I would have to teach around 30-40 hours a week to match the yearly salary + benefits of a public school. I’ve done 25 hours, and it was exhausting after adding in admin.
Sorry, I’m thinking out loud again. The question is: Why choose a public school over teaching at a buxiban? Is it the money? Is it a better work environment, or something else?
I worked at a cram school for many years and this is my first year at a public school. It’s nice finishing work at 4 compared to the late nights at buxiban.
- Work-life Balance. Maybe one or two times per year, they might ask you to come in on a Saturday or stay late (beyond those stupid “holiday make-up days”), but generally, if your contract says 7:45-4:45, you’re only at work those times. (Contract times seem to vary. Mine were usually 8-5, but lunch is at least one full hour, if not 1.5 hrs)
- Holidays. You might have to do camps at the start of winter and summer breaks, but you might not. Generally, you have two-three weeks off at LNY and a month+ for summer.
- Consistent pay. As long as you wave your contract in the face of everyone in the office and make sure they understand they are legally obligated to pay you, you will be paid consistently and on time. (I mention the contract waving because I took over at a school where the foreign teacher before me was taking maternity leave for a second time and she and her husband had had to tap into savings from August until December, quite a few years in a row, because the school “didn’t have the money to pay the foreign teacher yet”. “The contract says I will be paid on the fifth of each month” didn’t go anywhere until she said she was not coming to work until she received all of her back pay. I didn’t have this problem, but it seems to have been a widespread problem for a long time. But, given it’s a public school, it’s very easy to make them lose face for being idiots with your pay check, vs cram schools and private schools, who couldn’t care less)
- If you teach lower El, you can make a difference. If you teach Upper el through senior high, you can try to make a difference, but I guarantee whatever you teach will be untaught by the local teacher most of the time.
- You probably have total flexibility over what you teach. Excellent if you understand how to actually to teach a world language. Terrible if the only teaching strategies you’ve ever learned come from cram schools and YouTubers who teach in cram schools (or you want any sense of direction)
I would never go back to any traditional education environment ever again because I see the value of non-traditional education from the experiences I’ve had working in such an environment. Children’s bodies were not built to sit in desks all day and board games and other “ways to make learning fun” are laughable to me now (they used to seem like the obvious way to do things, but not for me anymore). If a public school would give me my own class to work with as a real (not foreign/fake) teacher, I would consider going back. But I left because every single thing I tried to do was undermined by every other person in the school, so I have no hope in being able to ever make meaningful change in TW’s public school system.
Pretty much the same reasons as NZ mentioned. I enjoy getting off work at 4 and having more time to spend with my family. I also love getting paid even in the winter and summer months. Not having to talk to parents is another plus. I see parents during parent teacher conferences, special events, and 1st grade recruitment day. Almost none of them want to talk to me during those times.
Also never really having to fight to get something I am owed. Your contract will pretty much outline everything you are entitled to. Annual leave is covered in my contract along with all other benefits. I can just go up to my director and say I am going to take a personal day on this day and he just says ok. There is no oh but you can’t do that, I need to find a substitute, or you won’t get paid for that day.
I’m getting ready to apply for the TFETP, and I saw their requirements for a background check. It looks like it has to be from your own country, but what if you haven’t lived there for a long time? I only needed to get one from Taiwan when I worked at a buxiban and when I applied for an APRC.
Also, does the TFETP program even hire for Taipei and New Taipei? I know New Taipie uses Teach Taiwan and it looks like Taipei uses Taiwan Language Institute (though that may be only for the ETA program as they are not taking any other applications for public schools). I’m starting to think TFETP is a waste of time right now since you have to jump through so many hoops to apply.
Check the required documents again. It states
Police Check/Police Clearance Certificate
Applicants should provide a nationwide police check/clearance issued after January 1, 2023 from competent authorities in his or her home country or the country he or she currently resides in.
So assuming you are living in Taiwan, then you just need a Taiwan police check.
New Taipei City has two programs, their own program and the TFETP. For their own program it is Teach Taiwan. For TFETP I am not completely sure now. Previous years it also seemed to be Teach Taiwan as I would see them advertise on Facebook for schools in the middle of nowhere in New Taipei City.
I would just apply to both to be safe. It doesn’t take that much extra time to do both.
I’ve only worked at one public school and two buxibans so my experience is quite limited. But I will say that teaching at the public school has been significantly better than the buxiban (at least the one for children I worked with adults on the second one). The public school work has taken up a lot more of my time but the school has allowed me to design my own curriculum and pays me for the class preparation (getting paid a wage instead of hourly). But being able to have autonomy over my class design and having the school listen to my feedback and suggestions has really helped a lot. I feel more fulfilled at work even when the kids often choose not to care because the times they do care are really fulfilling moments. Since I can teach how I want, I get to see the students have moments of happiness and get to see the stress from the other overly rigorous/tedious coursework melt even if it’s only for 50 minutes at a time.
The paycheck is steady which helps and the contract helps keep my hours stable (the school never asks or expects me to work beyond the hours in my contract and the few times they have I’ve been paid the appropriate overtime).
Of course the adult teaching buxiban job I had was easier and the students were more engaged (usually), but it also paid a lot less and didn’t pay for prep work.
Recently the Moe finally fixed the pay scale imbalance (after months fighting about it) and even back paid me for the lost salary I was supposed to have received from the new pay scale. So now everything has been repaired and I can say that it’s worth taking a public school job.
The only thing I can’t reccomend is working through one of the recruiting agents because they’ve made it clear that they care far more about making the schools happy than the employees. They have tried to screw me over several times to make the school happy (like trying to get the school to take 18% taxes every year by saying I have to be in Taiwan 185 days in a calendar year before they can change the rate back every year. Like even if I’ve been in Taiwan 10 years they would want the school to charge me 18% until June then switch back and make me apply for a tax refund. Luckily the school didn’t do that but teach Taiwan wanted them to. They also didn’t want to fight to help get the Moe to change the salary back to the new pay scale. This finally happened but only because myself and other teachers rattled some branches until they had to listen). So if you can, I’d say avoid taking a position through one of the recruiting agents that has contracts with the MOE.
Based on the stories i hear from my teacher friends in my home country, this is universally true…
OK, thanks. Late night reading and clicked straight to the More Info link.
Yes, but I will probably do TFETP last. They seem to want their teachers to apply through their system. They require two letters of recommendation, which on one hand, is a bit awkward, and on the other, I’m not confident that either former manager is going to get around to writing one in time if ever. All my former managers are Taiwanese except one I can’t contact, and, while they liked me, they’re busy. I actually asked one to do this years ago and it did take a long time to get done.
What was the problem? The pay scale is something I’m a little worried about.
The Moe updated the salaries this year but the local MOE was slow to update. I signed my current contract on the old outdated salary and found out later about the increase. For a long time this was denied and the tftep website even got rid of the publicly available pay scale on their website. So some teachers that were recruited directly from the Moe had higher salaries than everyone else. For a long time they said we wouldn’t get the updated salary until next year and only if we chose to resign. But finally they updated the salaries to the new pay chart and back paid me for the the months I was paid on the lower outdated scale which is good. They fixed the problem even if they denied it for so long. Im just happy they fixed the issue
Has anyone heard of a situation where, when you’re absent a day for a vacation, you have to PAY your coworkers to cover your classes? I’m guessing only a private school would try that.
In the public schools they either move your class to a different day to make it up or you are supposed to pay your sub. This will depend on your school. The only time I ever ended up paying for a sub, I had been in the ER with a very legitimate medical emergency all day. So it goes.
In public school contracts it’ll probably mention that you need to reschedule or swap your class. But in reality that’s actually hard to do. If you need a substitute and it’s not for official school business then you will have to pay.
For swapping classes, you would have to find a time you and your coteacher for that class are free and you would also need to find another teacher for that class and swap with them.
Since you have a coteacher they will usually just teach the class without you. You don’t have to pay them since they aren’t a sub, but you should be nice to them and maybe buy them a milk tea or a coffee.
If you don’t have a coteacher and you’re going to miss. You either have to swap classes with another teacher or pay a coworker who is also free to be your substitute. In public elementary schools it’s $400 a class, which is the same you get paid if you work extra classes.