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scottiddled

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  1. I do not recommend Search "Associates." They charge a hefty fee to teachers and then sock the school for roughly one month's salary per placement. So they're really leeching the system. They try to justify it by marketing themselves as a "premium" agency, sort of along the lines of what you mentioned (for "elite" teachers), but for the most part you're just paying for short-term access to their database (they cut you off as soon as you get a job, whether or not it was through them) and a possible invitation to their hiring fairs. I've spoken with lots of people who get the cold shoulder from Search (i.e. messages never answered) even though they're top-notch teachers. They basically want you to pay them their money and leave them alone until you sign a contract (then they want to know so they can invoice the school). They also have a track record of not standing behind teachers and automatically siding with schools--including some bottom-of-the-barrel schools who hardly meet their "elite" image. International education has a big "honor your contract" trope that is, unfortunately, a bit one-sided. Teachers who break contract, and even some teachers who verbally accept an offer but it never gets to the signed-contract stage, are marginalized by agencies like Search. Fair enough, but schools get away with all sorts of shady dealings. And part of the implied (and sometimes explicit) benefit of going with an agency is that you have a supposedly neutral third part involved in the hiring process. Yet Search is clearly more interested in staying on the good side of schools than responding fairly to teacher-school disagreements. So they'll blackball a teacher who gets horribly mistreated and leaves (arguably for good reason or under disputed circumstances) but it takes a LOT for them to stand up to a school and/or stop representing them. I can recommend ISS-Schrole (paid) and the Global Recruitment Collaborative (free). TES has a lot of job postings, too. There are other agencies, some of them free and some of them who charge a fee, of varying quality. It often depends on the region and level you're looking to start at. Be careful of some of the opaque headhunting agencies. They'll treat you really well, but are really just interested in placing you *anywhere* and collecting their fee. I had one agency butter me up, then try to talk me into a "get your foot in the door" job for about 25% of the salary I ultimately accepted. When I didn't jump at it, they gave me a "it looks like we don't have a good fit right now" line and asked if they could check back in with me later in the recruitment season if I was still looking. Other teachers later confirmed that this agency had a reputation for preying on teacher desperation and the opaque job openings they had on their website were all just part of a bait and switch.
  2. Yeah. That's a bad contract but not as bad as feared. Basically they're offering you a two month bonus for giving them an earlier commitment or notice that you're leaving. Some schools have things like renewal bonuses built into either the contract or the published pay scale, but that's tied to actually coming back and not linked to giving them notice that you're leaving by X date. I'm not sure what the "allowances" are (just housing allowance?). In some ways it actually makes sense, as your extension of stay in Thailand is (probably) tied to that employment. All that said, it's a bad situation. If you were considering staying, you'd basically have to start insisting in September that they give you a new contract. Otherwise you have a one-sided commitment from that October deadline until...whenever they decide to commit to you. That's not OK. You might have some success working with whatever recruitment agency (ISS, Search "Associates") because this provision goes against the spirit of their terms. Schools working with them often (not always) sign teachers at fairs and can produce contracts--or at least memos of understanding--within days to lock into agreements. If your school is registered with one or more of these agencies, they should be capable of either offering contracts to returning teachers quickly or willing to take this provision out of their contracts. But it's a longshot.
  3. There's some truth in there but you're off base in some ways. First, the claim that "any decent native speaker can get triple the salary" in China is a huge stretch. Perhaps at the bottom of the barrel, you have a points. But for qualified teachers, Thailand and China are often comparable. For many, Thailand pays more. I myself had similar offers from Thai and Chinese schools. Cost of living, familiarity with Thailand, and "lifestyle" (but not the kind of lifestyle you're suggesting) tipped the scales to Thailand. Second, you're right to point out that Thai bureaucracy is maddening, but Chinese can be, too. A Chinese school that made me an offer, and has a reputation for good HR and smooth transitions, walked me through the requirements. They were worse than Thailand in many ways. You're correct that Chinese schools may reimburse more of the visa costs, but you're still going to bear the expense of producing documents (including some Thailand doesn't need). And you're probably going to have to pay (in time and money) to get to a consultate; China offered to pay a bit more of the costs, or reimburse me for a visa agent, but that reimbursement came out of a pool of money that I could've used for other relocation expenses (so it's a wash). At best, you're talking about two highly bureaucratic countries. I won't quibble over which is worse. Third, I find the trope about farang teachers insulting. You're not alone on these forums in voicing it, so I'm venting my anger more broadly here, but "native speakers working in Thailand only do it for lifestyle, girlfriends or wives" came from you, specifically. There are plenty of farang teachers who find the "sexpat" thing disturbing. I'm one of them. I didn't relocate my family here for girlfriends or wives. I did it for money, cost of living, future career opportunities (i.e. climbing the ladder in international education), and because we enjoy Thailand. People are free to critique those who are drawn to Thailand by their libidos, and I'll join in that critique. But you cross a line when you paint all expats, or all expat teachers, with that same brush. I find deeply insulting and consider it to be in violation of the forum's policies (especially when it happens in the Teaching subforum).
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