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.
We are the Gang of Rock, two Germans, one Thai and one Dutchman and we have a professional studio with a drum kit near Sukhothai. We play with two drummers, one Thai music teacher who has little time and one German who still lives in Germany half of the time. We would like to get to know one more drummer who also loves to play in a steady band. My name is Ed Hüpscher my telephone# is 0861774232, my e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to see us watch us on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2M5rF83uJ7A&t=2054s
Observations from a teacher recruiter's chair
I currently work for a school that employs about 20 native-speaking teachers. I've been working for this school for nearly 15 years. I started at the school when teachers were directly employed by the school. In fact, for a few years, I was the only teacher to be employed directly by the school. All the old teachers left and the new ones were sent to us by an agency.
When teachers were employed by the school, they generally stayed longer and were a better bunch. They were paid more and got more holiday, etc. I definitely remember them being a happier bunch. When the agency took over, we would go through teachers like no one's business. They were paid anything between 30-41K. Teachers who were allowed to come and go got 30-33k a month, and teachers who had to be there all the time got about 37-41k. I was on about 48K at the time and got a lot more holiday and freedom.
This was a farang-run agency who I believe went under during the pandemic. I hope to god they didn't rebrand and that they're nowhere near schools anymore. What I remember of the 8 years working alongside these agency teachers is that most were miserable. The agency was always on top of them. Often berating them and trying to find ways to take money out of their salary. I could be wrong, and the teachers I spoke to could have been economical with the truth but when enough people tell you the same horror stories, it's hard not to believe. Honestly, some of the stories I heard made me question my faith in humanity. How an agency with two farangs in charge could not only be so bad at their jobs, but treat their staff so abhorrently, really bothered me.
My school now employs directly again and I have a big hand in who we employ. Our starting salary is 50K and we get nice long holidays. Sure, we get the odd bad teacher now and again, but for the most part, 90% of the teachers who work or have worked with us are happy. I had to basically beg my school to take onboard my advice on who to employ. I told them to avoid hiring younger teachers. No offence to younger teachers, but they generally don't care as much and treat the job like it's a working holiday. We usually look for teachers aged 30-60 who are settled here, with spouses, kids and a home. They always seem very grateful to have a stable income with very few hassles.
If you have any hand in employing teachers, and you're only interested in warm bodies in the classroom and paying the very least, you're going to attract the worst kind. Shame on you for doing that. But if you actually take the time to read cover letters, read CV's and try to get a feel for the person applying, your life will be so much easier. Sure, it's a hard slog at the beginning to find decent people, but once they're there, doing their job, being happy and and wanting to show their loyalty, you have such a great work environment. It's very much just common sense with a side of decency. For the most part we employ good teachers. I'm most definitely not a recruitment expert. I'm just not a scumbag who knows how to interact with my fellow human beings.
Bring back real discipline
Real discipline (corporal punishment) needs to be brought back ASAP globally - if not for the teacher, but for the kids themselves. Not having consequences for actions and slack discipline does not help the kids in the long run. In fact it damages their social interactions, and their abilities to interact normally in society later on. You could say we owe it to them to administer strict discipline!
You simply cannot take a namby pamby approach as many so called educators have been writing about for years in their papers and getting praised and their works published. The reason being it resonates with the official snowflake agenda. You know the old... "It's barbaric, Oh you have to engage them", or the gaslighting approach they try on you.. well it's all your fault! You didn't do X or you didn't do Y. Always a story coz little Somchai is not doing well in his studies. Of course it's never his fault god forbid!
Finally, a lot of newly qualified teachers will say this or say that based upon their woke indoctrination, oops sorry the education they've been through at university. It's time to start questioning the official wishy-washy ways and restore discipline and real learning back into classrooms instead of fawning to kids wishes because you're afraid you'll be labelled mai sanuk!
A 12-month contract is a must
A long time ago I used the services of one agency and got a 9.5 month contract. It was my first job. A year later, my school resigned from the services of the agency and offered a 12-month contract. Was this some kind of miracle? No. Simply put, the money for my hard work went to me, not to a greedy middleman. Of course, some agency employees will claim that 9 or 10-month contracts are the norm, but this is obviously not true. They just want to save their faces. Good schools and good agencies take care of their teachers and offer 12-month contracts.
12-month contracts are in a minority
An 11-month contract is real good if you can get one because most are around 9.5 months - so if its 10 it's okay! Virtually every teacher I've ever worked with in my 53 teaching positions has told me that their last school or agent paid on a 12-month contract, only later to confess that it was not in fact a year's contract but often a school year's contract, which is around 9.5 months. All that glitters is not gold. I once answered an advert on Southeast Asia's most prominent teaching website, (True International, 50,000 baht, 12-month contract) however at the interview it turned out to be 34,000 baht on an 8.5 month verbal contract.
How to recognize a weak job offer?
Example red flags:
- 22-24 classes per week; more than 20 classes per week means the school has no idea how to manage teachers;
- dealing with all levels of primary school (P1-P6) or dealing with all levels of secondary school (M1-M6);
- 11-month (or shorter) contract; does the school expect teachers to make a visa run to Laos each year?
- the information that the school does not provide any teaching materials, only curriculum ("It's up to you, teacher");
- lack of air conditioning in classrooms (especially in English Program or Intensive English Program);
- constant search for new teachers (what happened to the previous ones?).
Would you add anything else to this list?
Inflation is eating my teacher salary
As a teacher, I have friends who have received little to no salary hike this year and what's worrying is the rate of inflation going on. Currently as of writing it is 7.7% year on year. My monthly expenses have gone up by 10,000 baht and I always try to save everyday. My friends in the IT industry in Bangkok have received raises called inflation adjustment of 10% on their base salaries. It certainly helps.
International schools are even worse. True they have higher salaries to start with, but almost all have a 2-3.5% maximum yearly salary hike on their pay scale. So I am sure international school teachers are feeling the pinch as well. Some have pointed out to me that their pay has been frozen by the school since 2020. Plenty of reason to not stay at your school for long, and run away after the contract is done.
Will Thailand still be able to attract teachers on the bottom of the barrel 40k salaries anymore? On top of the new licensure requirements. I don't know how many teachers can still hold on to Bangkok, let alone the rest of Thailand.
Is that a fair salary for an international school?
Just saw an ad for a qualified math teacher at an international school for 75K a month. That's just over 400 quid a week and it's in Bangkok. Bangkok is not all that cheap. This is an international school, so they'll be asking for all the best qualifications and experience.
At the very least, the candidate will be expected to have a degree in maths and a PGCE (or equivalent). They will likely have to have several years of teaching experience in their own country. They probably aren't going to be provided with a pension (I am almost certain of this). They won't be entitled to any form of social welfare (despite paying taxes out of this measly sum) and they'll likely be worked to the bone.
I have a friend in Vietnam who works at an international school as a maths teacher and he's on double this salary. He doesn't even have qualified teacher status but he is good at what he does.
Does the culture need to change?
My friend, who is Thai, has recently qualified as a teacher and got her first job in a provincal school in southern Thailand. She is a sweet, kind and funny girl, keen to be a good teacher and loves kids.
Recently I spoke with her about how important and satisfying it must be to be able to nurture, support and guide young people through the learning process. Unfortunately she was horrified at the thought of this, "no no no, we are not allowed. We must be strict and control the students" she has, in the first few days, seen teachers hit a student and another teacher call a young child 'crazy' because they didn't understand the question and asked for help. Is it the teaching system that needs to change or is it the culture of the teachers?
Most teachers just don't care!
I came to teaching as a second career. Teaching got me out of the condo and the additional money buffeted all my cash burn. Having said all that I almost went to teacher's college after university. There were a lot of difficulties along the way but to be honest most of the pressure I placed on myself.
In my opinion 80% of teachers don't care and never will. Paying them more than 35K per month is just money in the bin. 10% care somewhat and 10% take it on as a career and profession. Here, I'm discussing EFL and all schools sans true internationals. I'm amazed at the full grown shirkers and artless dodgers. Having done this for a decade I shouldn't be but as we start the new year, I am.
Professional development is not easy to come by but few have any interest. It's all about silly games, methods to waste time, nailing down a staple of activities and tired worksheets so as to place a water bottle and your school owned notebook on your desk and slip off somewhere for an hour or three or...simply head home. Year on year they learn nothing new then gripe about their pay. They've become accustomed to the school and when they weigh a pay package at 42k compared to the 37k they've been making as long as they can remember, they decide that the effort is just not worth it. So, there they sit.
Another thing I have noticed that teachers never do is help students on their own time. It seems that any moment that could be spent off campus is better so than time spent helping their students. It's so self serving. New teachers bring in a bit of freshness and positivity but I'm struck by the false pride. Even when I started at 50 + I knew I hadn't a clue how to teach and was constantly searching for mentors and ideas. So few and far between I had to train myself. It's even a bit shocking as I see many of these younger teachers having gone through these limited programs playing games and doing board races but all that stuff academically speaking it's just purely a waste of time.
Moreover, with few exceptions I'm absolutely stunned at the lack of depth that most teachers have related to technology.
It's not been an easy road. One needs to constantly be searching for a school that's a fit for you personally. It will never be perfect and nothing even close. In the end, I traded my perfect school for money and although I am making approximately 20k + per month more at this new school plus bonus + perks, it is a bit of a lunatic asylum.
Why in world would anyone be teaching students with such abysmal English abilities? Not only are these poor kids challenging in themselves but the classes are complete headaches and the schools are generally disasters. This is precisely where a person with any sort of talent and career ambition does not want to work. There are better schools with far better facilities, students with exceedingly better English abilities, his students with grand ambitions and motivation. If you are sincere and genuine about your career then seek to educate yourself to a point where you can provide the best students something of value. Then, go make yourself 80,000 baht a month.
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