The 'unwanted' senior teacher role
"A difficult school to work in is only made all the more so with chancers" - the chancers are only allowed to exist because of the schools and agencies employ them.
I worked for a language centre at the beginning for two years. No help from anyone. I was left to work it out for myself. I taught everything from young kids to IETLS. I loved the job and the learning curve, but I needed a job with more social hours.
I got a nice little job at a kindergarten school. 8-4pm and weekends completely off. I went to the interview with a nice shirt and tie. I had a copy of my degree and CELTA, and a CV with 2 years of experience teaching children and adults. I got the job and started off on 35k a month (this was over 10 years ago and they're still paying the same). I noticed very quickly that this school would employ anyone. Experience or not, degree or not, teaching cert or not, and even smart attire or not. That's right, some people rocked up to the school wearing shorts and t-shirts and were given jobs there and then.
After my first year, the school employed three young British girls. They were like 20/21. They had no experience and no qualifications at all. They were here to travel and party. I don't blame them for taking the job. Someone basically offered them a working holiday and they took it. But it made me realize the importance of worrying about your own work, your own class and your own business.
Anyway, about one week into the summer camp I get a phone call. My boss from the agency sounds very worried and tells me the school has complained. Now, I know full well the complaints aren't about me, so I play it dumb and ask, "oh, what have I done wrong? What did the school say about ME? She sounds even more worried and tells me, "Oh, not you, Liam. The school really like you and say you're doing a wonderful job". Again, I know where she's heading with this but I continue to play dumb. Like if the complaints aren't about me, why are you calling ME?
She goes on to tell me that the new girls aren't really teaching. They're just letting the kids play with toys and showing cartoons. This woman is so feckless and bad at her job, that she doesn't have the decency to just say exactly what she wants. She wants me to say it for her like it's my idea. I knew what she was doing so I had some fun with it. I told her that's terrible and it's hard to find good teachers. I knew she had their numbers but I offered to text her their phone numbers so she could speak directly to them.
At this point I can hear the despair in her voice. She's getting annoyed with me and losing face because I'm not allowing her to take advantage of me. She finally tells me that I've been at the school for a year. I'm a great teacher who the school likes. I thank her for her kind words but I continue to be confused as to why she's calling me. She tells me that I'm a "senior teacher" now. And as a 'senior teacher', It's my job to take new teachers under my wing, show them how to teach and be responsible. I tell her that I'm not a senior teacher. I'm no one's boss and this is the first I'm hearing of this.
She continues with, "no, you ARE a senior teacher. You get paid more than they do". This is the point where I snapped and got really pissed off with her. I kept my cool but I was very stern and articulate in explaining my position. I told her that I get 1k a month more than they do. The reason I get a measly 1k more a month is cos I did a year already. Nowhere in my contract does it say I'm a senior teacher and responsible for anyone else. In fact, it's the same contract as my first one, just with 36k a month as opposed to 35k.
I tell her that I started off just a year ago with the same salary. Me, with a degree, CELTA and 2 years experience. I told her that if she wants me to be a "senior teacher" - she can discuss it with me in person and we can talk about more money. That's even if I would want the position anyway. She tells me she's disappointed with my attitude. Again, this really pisses me off, so I tell her that I have a great attitude. I come to work and do my job well. And seeing as these three girls aren't doing that, they're the ones with the bad attitude so call them and tell them this.
I'm the kind of teacher who will always help his fellow teacher. Fellow anything depending on the job. I know what it's like to be new in a job. But at the end of the day, you have to ask for help. This agency I worked for thought that not only could they employ anyone without doing their due diligence, but that the good teachers there would do their job for them also.