Working smart, not working hard
Making the most of your teaching time
The following was an interesting observation from a teacher who has a friend with no degree but is still managing to earn 70,000 baht a month as a teacher in Thailand. Have a read of the full story first.
I thought some of you would be interested in this as I see a lot of crap about teachers on a 35k or 40k pittance or expect that's all they can aim for out here.
A mate of mine who moved into my condo last year has been over here for 3 years. He's 25 years old, has no degree and works as a teacher in Bangkok.
Anyway, his working week breaks down like this. His Mon-Fri job is as a homeroom teacher in a kindergarten. They have to be on site from 8-3:30, but only teach a one hour lesson during the day, the rest of the time they need to be with the students while the Thai teachers do their conditioning. Lunch is followed by ‘sleep time' for two hours, when the teachers can play on their computers or do whatever they want.
Through a standard agency, the teachers earn 35,000 baht a month for an 11-month contract, with an extra month of summer school if they want it (for the same pay) In other words there are no ‘dead' months when the teachers earn nothing.
He's been at the school for almost 3 years but about two years ago some parents wanted him to come and play with their son in his playroom using English as the language of communication. 500 baht per hour was quite an attractive deal because the work was Monday to Friday and the house was only around the corner from where he lived.
About a month later the child's parent wanted the same deal as the kid. So since then he has been ‘playing' with the kid for an hour before giving a more serious lesson to the parent. Two hours a day for an extra 1000 baht- five days a week. That's an extra 20,000 baht per month and he's back in his house for 6pm and has the whole evening to himself.
About a year ago he took on some Saturday work which is actual teaching in a language center. He was paid 600 baht an hour for six hours work. This added up to an extra 14,400 baht per month on top of the 65,000 baht he was already earning during the week. I've since heard though that he gave up on the Saturdays because he valued his weekend too much and was happy with earning 55K
He married his Thai girlfriend whom he met while she studied in Australia and they moved over here together three years ago, so he has his visas based on that. She usually takes home between 40-60k depending on commission, so they live quite a good lifestyle on 130-140k p/m. They are both in their mid-20s.
A total of 21 teaching hours per week, if playing can be counted as teaching, home by 6pm everyday, and Sunday free every week. And a very handy 70k per month.
I often see people complaining or thinking that they can only get some 30-40k a month pittance and thought people would be interested in the reality of how people can help themselves and do okay, despite being a, wait for it.... ‘degreeless Tefler'.
Interesting thoughts, but I have always said it's not about working hard, it's about working smart. The work is out there but you need to look on teaching as a business - and you are the product. By all means enjoy your work but utilize your time in the best way possible.
Years ago, I worked for a language center that specialized in preparing Thai students to go and study in America. The students came to us for a one-month intensive English program to study reading, writing and speaking skills.
From Monday to Friday, I taught six hours a day. I did the morning session from 9.00-12.00, took an hour for lunch and then did the afternoon session from 1.00-4.00. It was a sweet deal. The pay rate was about 300 baht an hour so that meant I earned 36,000 baht for the weekday work alone. Keep in mind that this was 1995 so 36,000 baht went a lot further than it does now.
However, I was always keen to bump up my earnings and the language center ran evening conversation classes from 6.30-8.30pm mainly for office workers and business people. I decided to take on a conversation class just two nights a week. This extra two nights of teaching got me another 4,800 baht per month - but I wasn't working smart. To my mind I had two and a half hours of dead time from when the daytime classes finished at 4pm and the evening class started at 6.30. And then when the evening class finished, I would get home about 9pm, exhausted from such a long day and generally fit for nothing. I actually felt it was that two and a half hour break that was tiring me out more than anything else. And let's not forget that whenever you find yourself with a long break, that's when you will often kill time by walking around shopping malls and spending money!
I decided to ditch the evening classes at the language center and teach private students at home. I signed up students to study from 5.30-7.30 and charged them 500 baht an hour.
So not only was I earning more money - but I was in my own home with the teaching day finished at 7.30pm. That's a huge difference to 9pm, when the evening is nigh on over.
Teachers should look on themselves as a business. You are the boss. You are in control. Decide how much money you realistically need to earn a month - and then find the easiest and most comfortable way to earn it.
I never wanted to work on the weekends. I have always hated the idea of working a six-day week and for the most part, I never did. But if working six days a week doesn't bother you and you need to do so in order to reach your financial target, then go for it. Every teacher will have their own strategy. Just make sure that you are utilizing your valuable time to its fullest potential.