I thought it might be an interesting idea each month or so to feature a couple of common teaching in Thailand-related questions - and find out what teachers have to say. Welcome to The Burning Question.
Ok, now for this month's questions.
One of the biggest complaints that foreign teachers have about their job in Thailand is being asked to participate in weekend school activities, often with no remuneration. It might be a sports day, a parade or some other student competition, but it can often mean a teacher giving up part of their precious weekend. So there are two questions I would like to ask teachers on this topic.
1) What is your school's / employer's attitude towards making teachers take part or be present at extra-curricular school activities? Are you expected to attend? Is it frowned upon if you don't?
2) What's YOUR opinion of being made to attend these events? Do you not mind because you consider it part of the job? Do you flatly refuse if it's in your own time? Do you agree to do X number of events per year and no more
If you consider yourself a real educator and care about the responsibilities that come with a teaching position then one should be involved in the extracurricular activities schools have. Typically teachers are on a monthly salary and whether it's written in their contract or not, teachers are expected to help or plan with certain activities as are they in North America. The attitude of 'its not my job ' or let the Thai teachers do it is just childish and selfish and irresponsible. It wouldn't work in a western school and doesn't or shouldn't work here. To flat out refuse to work or plan with the rest of the staff would end your employment in my school. Teachers need to take their responsibilities seriously and hopfully have fun in doing so. I've been on both sides of this, one as a teacher and one as a school owner. I have excellent staff who go above and beyond what we ask and more importantly we don't need to ask.
Thats my opinion. (Chris)
The work conditions in my contract state that a certain number of weekends must be worked each year. Simple as that. My contract also says a number of teaching hours, I generally teach less than those specified. But I do take work home and work more than the contracted hours. To be honest I look down on the people who clock in at 7:50am and out at 4:00pm (our official hours). I don't mind camps and competitions because I get to spend extra time with the students - not as a classroom teacher but as more a carer or adviser. I enjoy working with my students. The intrinsic rewards are more important than money. We do get looked after when possible, staying in nice accommodation when away and occasional lunches. (Nick)
I would like to point out the obvious that all the extracurricular activities are what make a good school great school. Sports and drama and all of the meets and competitions that schools and districts have are what kids look forward to. Think of how many schools here do not have organized activities. Where would you rather work or have your own children attend? Schools with or schools without these activities? They wouldn't happen without the hard work and cooperation of all the staff and their participation. It gets teachers out of the classroom and you will most definitely see different sides of your students. Cheer them on.. embrace it. (Chris)
I am not required to attend most functions though I am invited. If there is something I am able to do for them, I am happy to do it. Generally, we foreign teachers are more extra baggage than participants. I have attended some and skipped others. If they tell me I must attend, I do. (Roy)
If I'm not getting paid for it, I'm not doing a thing for the school outside my regular contact teaching hours. There's no such as a free lunch from this teacher. (Steve)
Seriously how many holidays do you get for this Buddhist day and that Buddhist day. Count them up and see if you actually work at all. (Shayne)
What is your purpose as a teacher if you are not participating in school activities? It's part of your job description. You want to become an essential part of your school community, not some stranger who just drifts in and out of the school whenever you have lessons to teach. (Lance)
It's in my contract to do these extra-curricular activities if needed - with no extra pay. (Marc)
I'm paid extra and told well in advance. It's not ideal, but it's not often the school asks for this sort of thing. (Troy)
Our contract states we may be asked to help and take part in extra-curriculars and we should participate in them as much as we can. Most are done during school time and take no extra prep work. However certain competitions do take the extra time to train. We distribute the prep work for them among the foreign teachers and its up to the teacher how much time they want to spend training the student. We all usually end up training for something we enjoy though. If the extra-work requires teaching (like an English Camp) on a weekend, I won't do it without a guarantee of compensation. Since our students don't have many opportunities for clubs and activities like I did in the States, I don't mind helping them for the few that they have. If the extracurriculars became excessive though, I would probably speak up. What I do get a bit irritated with, is being told to attend an event on a weekend the day beforehand. If they want me to attend, they should give earlier notice, but that is just one of the things I have learned to live with here. (Caitlin)
If you would like to send us your opinions and answers, please use the 'Post Your Comment' form at the bottom of the page and I will add your words to the main text, along with your first name. In addition, if you have any suggestions for future 'burning questions' then send me an e-mail.