I worked for a language centre for two years and it was definitely my most enjoyable teaching job. I gave it up to get a normal 9-5 job so I could spend more time with my girlfriend.
About 50 teachers came and left in my period. There were a lot of wrong 'uns but also a few gems. These gems are still my good friends today. But I'd like to talk about my old director of studies.
A DoS by default
My old director of studies was this burly English guy who seemingly barely got past his GCSEs. He got the job because he played the game and had been there longer than everyone else. This guy had sold his soul for a paycheck of about 60,000 a month.
I remember first meeting him for an interview and just getting bad vibes from him. He was socially awkward and was completely inept. Never trust a man who doesn't make eye contact.
During my two years at the centre I was only late once. I had half a sick day (even though my boss wanted me to not go home 'cos he was too lazy to cover me), and I had students signing up again to learn with me. It was all good. I kept busy teaching 30+ hours a week, and my boss kept busy leaving me alone and looking busy himself.
But as with any inept boss who fears losing their job, they can't help themselves by breaking things that are not broken.
He did many dishonest and stupid things, but I'd like to recall my first problem with him.
I worked six days a week. I was lucky my schedule was always Monday to Friday and stayed that way 'cos many students wanted to learn with me. I chose to do Saturdays as an extra. My usual hours were 12.00-20.30 - Mon-Fri.
Lost drinking time
One day, my schedule said I was done at 6pm on a Friday. Wahoo! I never got to leave early. So, on the Friday I was all set to clock out and have a beer. He called me into the office and asked for a "massive favour". He asked me to cover a part-time teacher from 6.30-8.30 as she had to go to hospital.
Now, I really didn't want to have to do it, but he said he really needed me to. I also 'assumed' I'd get the money from the class as she was part-time. I said yes and ruined my beer time.
Where's my money?!
Come the end of the month there was no extra money for the class. My boss said I was contracted a certain amount of hours and I was below my quota. I said that wasn't fair and he should have told me at the time. I still would have covered the class, but I appreciate honesty. He obtusely said 'You could have just said no".
From there on in, he'd ruined any trust and decency between the two of us. Any classes that needed to be covered were met with "Oh, I'm so busy marking tests and proof reading". He knew it was BS, but because he was an inept boss, he didn't know how to take control. He went off and printed a poster saying "Teachers must cover classes when asked!". A real manchild in charge of 30+ teachers.
The second incident I had was with a private student who signed up for 80 hours. A great guy who travelled for work so just wanted to chat and practise his English.
Well, one night I had a few beers and forgot to set my alarm. I woke up at 10am to a phone call from the sales girl, "Where are you?". I apologised and asked if someone could cover me. They said my student didn't want a different teacher, so don't worry. My student said it was no problem. He would see me tomorrow.
Come the end of the month - my boss docked me the equivalent of 2 hours part-time from my salary. If another teacher had covered me, I wouldn't have been docked he told me. He had got his revenge.
Unfortunately for me, my student cared about who was teaching him. I ended up just sticking two extra hours down on my extra pay sheet and they paid me anyway. Again, my boss was totally inept and just assumed I never lied on my pay sheet. I only did it that one time.
Can you travel?
The 3rd example incident is the reason why you take care of your staff and don't try to cheat them. My boss, after all the shitty and underhand tricks he played on people, asked me to work on Saturdays at a different centre. A centre far away from where I live.
I thought it was just to cover a course. Maybe 20-40 hours and then be back to my local branch where I was contracted to work. I agreed to cover there for no more than 8 Saturdays. He said, "Great! But if we need you there permanently on a Saturday, you can do that, right?"
I knew exactly what he was doing and I just said "You know what? The course you want me to cover - I'm not sure I can cover it now. Let me go away and think about". He replied sarcastically, "You'll think about it???" And I never covered that class.
My language centre was very busy back then. I pretty much always had a full schedule where other teachers didn't. Teachers who weren't so popular (but on the same money as everyone else) were given mundane tasks like putting all the books in order. That took about 10 mins and it was back to twiddling their thumbs again.
I didn't care that they were earning the same as it wasn't my business and I'd rather be teaching than sat doing nothing.
The nightmare ends
I'm pretty sure my old boss was fired about a month before I left. They said he went home for a holiday, but he never returned. The Thai owner did his job for the last month.
I knew something had happened to him so I offered my services to help. She admitted that they didn't actually need anyone to do this job. All he did was create schedules for teachers and find new teachers. She could do that. She then began to ask questions like, "what exactly did he do?". I ripped the "teachers have to cover!" sign off the notice board and said "He made signs like this when his tricks didn't work and he didn't know how to assert himself".
She just smiled looking baffled.
One out of four ain't bad
I've worked under four foreigners. The first one was fantastic. A fully qualified teacher with his own business who really wanted to be the best. The thing I liked the most about him was his honesty. He would admit his mistakes which made him very humble and easy to get on with.
The next three were just terrible people. They weren't qualified to manage and certainly didn't have the experience to be in control of anything. Perish the thought they ever had to teach an unruly class of young learners. They'd be a shivering mess in the corner after the lesson had finished. But they always had a stupid answer for when things went wrong. It was never constructive and their arrogance just did more harm.
Maybe if all these unqualified teachers out there had a qualified boss it wouldn't be so bad. Someone who knows how to manage people and utilize them. Reward the good ones and dispose of the bad ones quickly.
Instead, they tried to manage by lying and cheating. They thought that being a boss gave them some kind of omnipotence. That they could constantly lie and cheat people making 35k a month and these people would never ask questions nor just walk out one day. "Party Paul has really left us in the shit today! He's not picking up his phone and Dave saw him down Cowboy last night". Yea, creatures of habit behaving like creatures of habit - shocking!