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Ijustwannateach

What I Would Tell My Administration

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Well, maybe my honeymoon's over. The big boss, the DI-rector, just proposed increasing my contact teaching hours for next semester from the current 6 or 12, to a whopping 23 hours per week. Nobody will laugh in front of him (there are signs he thinks that he's verrrry important), but they're laughing behind him.

So PB, are you going to jump ship? Or is it time for a high noon type showdown? My contract is up in a month or so and I'm going to have to going after bosses for more money and fewer hours - but I hate doing that kind of negotiation. :D I'm thinking of having my wife negotiate on my behalf, but as she and my boss don't really like each other that my not have the desired effect :o .

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8. You DO want all your employees to be legal residents within the Kingdom with proper licenses, visas, and work permits, DON'T you.

"Steven"

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9. It's great that you have so many nice, farang employees now. How do you manage them and communicate with them? You need at LEAST one Thai employee doing this full time with nothing else to distract them- preferably someone with experience living/working in a farang country. If you have an EP program with a variety of subjects, you need for at least one of your Thai-speaking teachers in each subject to have nearly the same level of fluency as your manager (i.e., quite good). Otherwise you'll soon discover how easy it really is to translate "simple driven damped harmonic oscillator" from one language to another when you don't even know what one is.

PB's rule number 4 is a corollary of this- proper management of farang workers requires the full-time staff member I mention above whose responsibilities include producing an English version of official school materials, including the calendars.

"Steven"

P.S. Yes, I second the above question- whatcha gonna do, PB? The school seems determined to shoot itself in the foot. Won't be the first time or the last.

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I don't know what I'll do. Today, too many meetings. Tomorrow, some Buddhist holiday may also interfere with a meeting that discusses my teaching schedule. I'm going to be firm on the 18 hours mentioned (supposedly) in my contract. Gee, the last time I was handed a signed copy of my contract was in July of LAST YEAR, at the previous school.

I told two experienced Thai teachers of English (who probably earn in the high 20's of baht per month, plus perks and pensions) on Friday, "Would you teach 28 hours per week? 69 hours per week? You have a number beyond you won't go, and so do I. The contract says 18 hours, and that's how you two recruited me. You have to wai and kowtow [and kiss arse] because you don't have a pension yet. I have a pension, and I work no more than 18 contact hours per week.....

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10. Business Overhead is an inevitable reality, not a dirty word. White boards require markers, blackboards require chalk, lights require electricity, bathrooms require water, air conditions require power, and classes require books, copies, and other materials. Here are some really stupid ways to mismanage your overhead:

A. Pretend it doesn't exist. Don't budget for it, and ignore the need for it. When teachers ask you about necessary items, stare at them indignantly and say something like "I gave you a school and a job, what else do you want?" Repeat until they go away.

B. Try to make your employees bear the burden! Charge them for copies, for markers, for other things, for use in YOUR school for YOUR paying students! That'll build team spirit for you!

C. Pretend you're in a "shortage economy." Ration copies to ridiculous extents or force teachers to get 20 signatures 3 weeks ahead to make them. Give only one white board marker a month even when it goes bone-dry. Force employees to shut off lights and airconditioning in rooms which were not designed to have open windows and don't have fans! This can sometimes be used as a sneaky way to accomplish point B above.

Seriously, BUDGET for the darn overhead and SPEND it. It's part of the standard expense of operating YOUR business. Sure, you can push some of the responsibility onto the teachers for awhile, but you'll build resentment and in the end it'll be YOUR BUSINESS that looks bad. If you don't like paying for white board markers, then install blackboards. The copy machine is not a holy relic- it is to be used BY teachers FOR students and classes. Classes will still need copies even if you do force the teachers to find a way through the locked gate behind the leopards guarding the shed in which the copy signature lady is imprisoned.

And if you think the teachers will lose respect for you if you don't spend the necessary overhead, wait'll you see what the parents (who're paying for your business for their child's education) have to say.

"Steven"

P.S. PB, you have my sympathies. There's no way to effectively pressure [split infinitive!] these types of folks when they get one of these harebrained notions in their heads. Start looking for a new place and stay in touch to hear about all the problems that occur once you're gone. Make sure to get good references from those you can before things go sour (i.e., before you've made it absolutely clear you're gone!)

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Time for another short one.

11. If you keep all your windows and emergency exit doors padlocked except during drills, what will you do during a genuine emergency? [And you haven't forgotten about fire extinguishers, hoses, and alarms, now, have you?]

I really don't make these up! All of them are sources of problems at one school or another that I know about!

"Steven"

:o

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C.  Pretend you're in a "shortage economy."  Ration copies to ridiculous extents or force teachers to get 20 signatures 3 weeks ahead to make them.

Oh yeah, I hear that one!

Get this: the school requires that the three 1st grade teachers send home the same letter to parents prior to exams. So I write up the letter for the three of us and go to get it copied, unfortunately, the daily limit per teacher is 30 copies and I need to make 75 copies (3 classes X 25 students each). So I can't get it copied because it's over the limit. However, what I can do is print out three copies off the computer, give one to each of the other teachers, and then the three of us can walk into the copy room and request 25 copies each.

The mind boggles :o:D:D:D:D:wub:

Someone please tell me how to say: "IT'S THE SAME NUMBER OF COPIES!!!" in Thai please -_-.

One teacher cannot copy 75 copies, period. EVER. But THREE teachers can waste their time filling out copy requests for the same copies. Bleh.................

Anyway, that point dovetails nicely into a rule of my own I'd like to add:

12: If policy conflicts with the education of the children, then policy must be reviewed and revised.

When planning a project, test, or special activity, SOME acknowledgement must be given to the fact that these short people in your building are CHILDREN, not minature adults.

* Children have feelings, and giving them tests that you know they can't pass (simply because you're implementing some Ministry requirement) is unfair and mean. Especially when YOU, yourself, don't understand the REASON behind giving that test and what data should be collected from it.

* Children are CHILDREN. If you plan an activity that is boring and the kids act up, it's YOUR fault. If your behavior requirments do not take into consideration the age level you're dealing with, then it's YOUR fault when the kids act out. Asking a kid to climb Mount Everest and then yelling at them when they quit halfway up is an ass-backwards way to run a school. Activities and rules need to be age-appropriate, not the other way around.

* Children do not have fully developed brains. Their logic and deductive reasoning skills are DIFFERENT than adults. Therefore, test questions and requirements that may seem perfectly intuitive to you, may be completely obtuse to a child. In other words, if you don't understand the basic steps of child development, get out of the business of running a school.

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Pudg, I have the smallest class in the whole school, so 35 copies will do it. And, to avoid having the students from looking on each others' papers, I made two tests, A and B, and wanted 20 copies of each. Oh, no; the MINIMUM number of copies is apparently 50. So I either go to the lady on campus who does them for 50 satang each, or I order enough copies to kill another tree. Of course, the form has to be signed by the dept. chair (who, fortunately, sits behind me and is very helpful) and must be submitted two schooldays before it's needed.

Update: to receive my newest pension, American law requires that I work (when overseas) no more than 45 hours per MONTH, regardless of how few satang per hour I'm earning. So, Uncle Sam has solved my problem of working 23 hours per week! Now, we'll need to negotiate my new salary....

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Pudgi, sounds like you're straining beneath the wheel! Kinda like some of your suggestions, though should be a little more concise- maybe will rewrite into a single point for the final list. Incidentally, it's up to you of course, but ultimately no teacher in Thailand is irreplaceable- performance and qualifications are irrelevancies here; it's obedience and attendance that count- so watch out telling off your admin!

PB, knowing a bit about your situation, couldn't you just present things as you living off your pension? It's not like examination of tax docs is gonna give you away here, right? Or is this just the habit of following rules ingrained for so long?

And here's the point of the day!

13. [mainly for the private schools] One totally psychopathic little buttwipe of an imp [who is paying you for, say, 1/30 of the total class revenue] is NOT worth losing even one other student- if he's the problem, lose him. If he's that bad, you can count on losing more than one other student because of him over the years- save yourself the loss and the pain and let him be someone ELSE's problem. Heck, it's probably not even worth losing one of your valuable skilled foreign employees over one kid [though you can't make a habit of choosing your employees over your customers, naturally!]

"Steven"

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PB, knowing a bit about your situation, couldn't you just present things as you living off your pension? It's not like examination of tax docs is gonna give you away here, right? Or is this just the habit of following rules ingrained for so long?.............

"Steven"

Ahh, I think I discovered, through the grapevine, why the DIrector wants me to teach a full course load - he sent out a letter last week to ALL 3300 students, that they should pay 500 baht in this coming semester, so that they could be taught by a farang! But this school isn't trying to recuit more farang staff - does he honestly expect me to play White Monkey to 71 classes of about 50 kids in each class? At least this new pension thing settles it; I'll go part time.

Boyfriend and I decided on a good reason to cut back to three days a week: road safety. There's no sense in me endangering life and limb five days a week.

14. If you're going to publicly notify 3,300 families of your intent to utilize foreign staff, wouldn't it be best to make sure all the chickens are hatched before counting them? Especially when your school is far enough away from civilization that the town has a long reputation of short hires?

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14. If you're going to publicly notify 3,300 families of your intent to utilize foreign staff, wouldn't it be best to make sure all the chickens are hatched before counting them? Especially when your school is far enough away from civilization that the town has a long reputation of short hires?

As a addition to Rule 14, or to sum it up a little more generally:

14a. If you're going to communicate, do so with EVERYONE involved. Don't just tell one or two people. Don't just tell the parents and not the teachers, or vice versa, etc...

Additionally, communicate in an EFFECTIVE manner. Posting a tiny note on a bulletin board is NOT effective communication. Set up a communication network in your school (either on computer BBS or via office mail boxes), and use it!!

The best way to annoy foriegn staff is to demand they do lesson plans a week in advance, and then tell them on Wednesday afternoon that classes on Thursday are cancelled for an "activity" day. You waste their time, throw a wrench into their well-laid plans, and leave them scrambling to get organized for some activity they didn't even know about.

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Both are excellent sides of the same point, PB and Pudgi [geez, that's like 4 times I've agreed with you in two days... something must be wrong! :o]

15. Foreign staff prefer communication to be reliable, simple, direct, timely, transparent, and universal, even if they can't always manage this themselves. While there is no perfect system for communication, here are systems which do not work at all:

a. Assuming blindly that your foreign staff will figure everything out from their contacts with your (largely non-English speaking) Thai staff

b. Expecting foreign staff to know what they should do based on "common sense [yours]."

c. Writing memos or making signs in Thai or Thaiglish

d. Delegating authority over the foreigners to 3 or 4 different managers who all tell them different things

e. Realizing that there's an emergency coming and holding an after school meeting scheduled for the same work day that you've announced it

f. Holding any meeting more often than once a week or longer than one hour after official end of working hours or on any holidays

g. Telling the Thai teachers one thing and the farang teachers a different thing- or telling different farang teachers different things. Do you really think we don't talk to one another?

16. If you don't know what your school's curriculum is, how are the foreigner teachers going to know it?

"Steven"

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I'm not a teacher, but I'm going to offer No. 17:

"I'm the boss" does not entitle you to amend the pay provisions of staff contracts downwards without consultation (or without informing them!!) And if you do, don't expect them to react in a happy-happy jai-yen-yen mai ben rai gee I'm so glad you've decided to hire your spectacularly untalented niece with my wages kind of way.

If they bite a chunk out of your arse, you deserve it !

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^Good point, Crushdepth- this might be generalized to:

"Farang employees expect contracts to be fixed in stone after formal signing, both for you and for them. Major changes in working conditions, particularly affecting remuneration, benefits, number of hours worked, days worked, holidays, subjects taught, or work attendance hours must be negotiated or abandoned- unless you like reliving Mutiny On The Bounty."

18. Farang employees expect a certain anount of preplanning and predictability in their schedules. Unlike, perhaps, your Thai employees, they get disgruntled when their one-contact-hour a week gets cancelled right before a major test or an exam, or when you suddenly announce the school will continue classes a week later into holidays when they've already purchased international air tickets. Many farang can eventually adjust to this, but as a suggestion- wouldn't your business run better by careful and meticulous planning?

19. If there's an employee who's the bogeyman of the office, farang or Thai, get rid of him. It's not worth it- even if you've already paid the bribe money for the WP he's not really eligible for. Try not to employ sociopaths/ psychopaths/ criminals in the first place- include some reliable farang in your interview process, as most Thais cannot easily detect the usual trouble signs as well. But if you've already hired 'em, get rid of 'em. Some typical troublemaking types to send off:

a. The Alcoholic Sexpat - comes late every day with random excuses; other teachers are constantly hassled having to cover his classes- may grace the office with photos/discussions of his "conquests" which no one really wants to hear.

b. The Perv/Pedo - creeps out everyone with his constant discussions of child sexuality and takes way too many photos of the P.5 class.

c. The Druggie - same as a. above with more creepy physical signs- often vanishes to the bathroom.

d. The Senile - absent minded to a fault, and blames everyone else for it- may assume he's top of the heap from his age and wind up in shouting matches with bosses, managers, etc., as well as trying to start fights with other teachers.

"Steven"

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hmmmm. reading though the thread here it seems to me that english teachers cant speak thai, now obviously being an english teacher means u have basically reached the apex of the english language.

so why cant you learn to speak thai? have all english teachers lost the ability to learn another language? are they really proper teachers?or maybe in previous times they had low end jobs with low qualifications like shelf stackers at the local mart, or low civil servant jobs like in the tax dept, i just cant understand why these supposedly highly qualified and supposedly intelligent teachers cannot learn to speak the local language.

learning thai isnt that hard :o

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