This is the place to air your views on TEFL issues in Thailand. Most topics are welcome but please use common sense at all times. Please note that not all submissions will be used, particularly if the post is just a one or two sentence comment about a previous entry.

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To: ajarn.com

A life of hard work

This is in response to an ajarn blog on how teachers shouldn't be constantly chasing more and more money.

The fundamental reason we work is to make money. I'd like to think that the money we make isn't just for paying bills and buying useless crap.

I use my disposable income to save and enjoy my life. I have a very nice apartment which I very much look forward to going home to. It has all the amenities and a second bedroom used as an office where I do online work. I work about 55 hours a week and very much love and appreciate my days off and holidays. If I have any more than 2 weeks off, I get bored.

The guy I work with loves to be at work. He comes in early and he leaves work late. He loves keeping busy and doesn't do much extra work as he thinks our full-time job should be the focus of our lives. He's consumed by his job and always tells me the boss will look more favorably on me if she sees me coming in early and leaving late.

I explained that this is just a job for me. I signed a contract, I do what's asked of me, and I go home and live 'my' life. I explained to him that I won't judge his philosophy in life if he doesn't judge mine. If the boss wants me to work longer hours, she can compensate me sufficiently so I have no need to do extra work. It's not personal it's business.

My old farang boss once called all of us into a meeting. It was just before school term finished and we had two months of holidays and summer camp. He was basically trying to encourage us to not do summer camp and take unpaid leave. He did this by explaining that teaching is hard work. You need to turn your brain off and relax. Get out of Bangkok. Get out of Thailand. You need some perspective so get out of Asia for a month, etc. Come back stronger for the new term.

It was all very motivating and solid advice, except for one thing; with what money? You want us to maybe go skiing in the Alps whilst not getting paid?

If you want to live in Thailand long term, you're gonna have to work hard to make it work. In my old job there was no yearly pay rise. In my current job I had to fight tooth and nail to get an extra 3k a month. And of course, there always has to be caveats.

If you're just a gap-year teacher then go nuts. Have fun, don't do any extra work and have nice long holidays. If you wanna live here, you have to work to make it happen. Can't just romanticize being this teacher who dedicates his career to 'the kids'. You need to find a balance and save for the future.

The old notion of "As I get older I want to be working less for more" doesn't apply to foreign teachers in Thailand.

You want more money? You have to take on extra work. Simple as. You don't wanna do the extra work cos you love the kids? Enjoy trying to spend magic beans in Seven Eleven as you hit retirement age where you have little savings but great memories of how you dedicated your life to your full-time job and forgot to think about yourself.

Every school or agency I've worked for has absolutely treated education as a business. Why can't I? Why is teaching the only job where it's all on the teacher to dedicate their lives for low pay but no one else has to? Why can't teachers do their jobs, work hard, and also make money?

Marcus


Voting in the UK election

To All UK Teachers; Don't Lose Your Vote

To all teachers who wish to vote in the UK General Election but don't quite know how to do it! It is not too late to act. If you are not registered you can register as an overseas voter if you are a British citizen and you have been on a UK electoral register at any time within the past 15 years.

Alternatively, some local authorities may take registrations over the phone. You can find the contact details of your Electoral Registration Officer here.

I believe that proxy is the best road to take. Your proxy can vote in person or by post. Ask for your proxy to vote in person - it is easier for them (by post was default when I registered so I had to request they change it, which they did immediately). Visit this site.

The quickest way to deal with the paperwork is to do everything online. Anything that requires a signature can be printed, signed, scanned and returned electronically. If you don't have these facilities at home there is probably a print shop near you that does.

If you don't have a proxy (family member, friend, neighbour etc) you can always contact the local branch of the party you support and ask to be given one.

Remember, every vote counts!!

As an aside, we have formed a branch of Labour International in Thailand. If after the election you wish to get involved then get in touch with us: ian.hollingworth0@gmail.com or liddell.glenn@gmail.com - we'd love to have you along to one of our meetings!!

Take care and have your say in what post-Brexit Britain will look like

Glenn Liddell

Talk your problems through

On the topic of the teacher who was ridiculed for being overweight - "Yeah, life ain't fair and the people of Thailand have some different values and ways of doing things than people in the USA have" Maturity epitomized there, ladies and gentleman.

I've been fortunate as far as my looks go in Thailand. I'm tall and fair-skinned. This is who I am. Back home people might say that I'm too fair- skinned. This bothered me when living back home sometimes. I wasn't doing anything wrong, but was made to feel like I was. Now I'm in Thailand it's the opposite. I'm complimented on looking fair. Now when I go home I simply don't care what people say about me being pasty.

I worked with an overweight guy before. The kids would often mention his weight. It was like they had turrets with words associated with overweight. It got him down and I felt bad for him. He wasn't the most confident or assertive fellow in the world, so I told him that he ever needs to chat, come and chat.

Talking about problems really helps. I told him that it wasn't personal and it was just kids being kids. If he wanted me to, I'd have a word with his class when they came to my class (I am a science teacher). I told the kids not to mention about his weight. It hurts his feelings and it's not nice nor polite. I told them that we're not to look down on anyone because of how they look. This is also my job as a teacher to have a safe and pleasant learning environment. This isn't an elitist farang idea, it's also a value shared by Thais. To think it wasn't would be to look down on the locals like "they don't know any better".

The kids were good. They respected me and understood my point. They liked the other teacher but simply didn't realize they were hurting his feelings. After all, they're kids and are still learning about life. He ended up leaving Thailand anyway, but I'd like to think he left Thailand a wiser and happier person from his experiences. I'd like to think more people offered him a kind or supportive word over simply telling him he's not cut out for Thailand.

When we have problems, it's always good to talk about them. Share experiences and know it's not only us. The wrong thing to do is to tell someone "shut up or go home". Adults talk and rationalize. We might not always agree, but we should always talk and share ideas, opinions and thoughts.

Good job with the website, Phil. I enjoy reading comments and seeing what other teachers in Thailand are up to. Their experiences (good or bad) all add to make it a great place to live and work.

Simon


Life's so unfair for the bad teachers

Getting ahead in the teaching game can be very difficult. You stay another year at your school, get paid a little more, maybe some more holiday, but that's about it. The longer you stay the more useless teachers you see come and go. You have that mixed feeling of knowing you're worth more in your school, but also how you are now the go-to-guy whenever there's a problem with people like '23-year-old James from Leeds' who loves getting leathered and indulging with the local ladies. He didn't go to uni, but he's wicked good at installing Sky satellite dishes. He thinks he got the job simply because he's special and handsome and finds it hard to cope with any criticism or requests to do work. The break from the honeymoon period has been hard on James. So bad he's thinking of getting a new job! He threatens this in his head everyday.

For every good teacher, I'd say there are three bad ones. The bad ones are usually allowed to coast along until the school finally get their revenge and don't renew their contract. Some like James from Leeds live from paycheck to paycheck so know they actually need their job. They'll come to work on time and not complain for the last few weeks. All the things anyone should be doing in their job anyway. This way the school might think James has turned a corner. At the very least for James, he has his "I've been treated unfairly" card for when the school wanna let him go. He can tell his friends and missus who quit her job when she met him how he arrived on time, taught his lessons and was loved by everyone at the school. Except for one person who had it in for him for 'no reason'. Life's so unfair for James.

Rinse and repeat in many schools. The good teachers watch the bad teachers come and go and wonder why nothing is changing. Often quoting Einstein's definition of insanity.


Don't accept paltry salaries

I have been teaching in Chiangmai for about 10 years now and my salary is now just above 50 k per month. I started back in the day at 28k a month. I cannot believe that even 50 k can be enough to live in Bangkok let alone 30k.

I agree with other teacher's comments, do not encourage these 'employers' by taking their paltry salaries. I realise that many people are settled here with Thai nationals and have children and these people may very well feel that they do not have a choice in dictating or demanding certain salaries, even if they are experienced esl teachers.

Thailand attracts a lot of very young newly qualified teachers who have had no experience teaching in their own countries they qualified from and many of whom are doing a really abysmal job of teaching their pupils. These qualified teachers are not here to stay but are in fact here to have fun, use their salaries on hedonistic activities then leave. These teachers are not too concerned about how much money they make because they are only here to have a good time. I feel that it is these teachers whom are lowering the basic salaries kingdom wide for serious long term teachers by accepting these low paying positions.

Qualifications certainly seem to come before age and experience and this is to the detriment of the pupils in Thai schools. For those teachers who have been here a while and are doing a good job and have furthered their education by doing a pgcei or a masters in education on top of their degrees, should leave Thailand and work in schools where their knowledge experience and qualifications are valued both monetarily and personally.

Another thing to note is that western teaching qualifications do not have a great focus on English as a second language learner and this too affects the children's education in Thailand as specific strategies are needed to teach them successfully.

John


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