Benito Vacio

Dancing with coordinators

Sometimes it's better to keep teaching colleagues at arm's length

The next term is fast approaching and many schools have job openings. Have you decided to apply to another school and look for a new teaching job because you have some conflict with your coordinator? If you don't plan to leave then how do you handle the conflict?

I once had an English coordinator when I worked for a government school. I worked with her for a total of three years. Over that period of time I learned to "dance with her' -but sometimes I got tired of the dancing and my patience became severely tested. Often that patience got pushed to the limit.

In the first year, things were tolerable. As a subordinate, I had to follow every single instruction she gave me. Even though she was a perfectionist, I performed to her expectations and I got very high ratings. Very often she would praise me to the heavens in front of our agency evaluator. She would paint a good picture of me to our director, the parents and my colleagues. I received accolades that I had never gotten before in my entire teaching career.

She was a kind and generous Thai woman. She did wonderful things for the school and I felt obligated to please her in any way possible. I don't despise my former coordinator. Actually I am thankful for the experience. It made me a better teacher.

But I can't imagine how I allowed myself to be ruined by a close relationship with my superior. Although I had given 100% effort to all my school activities, I felt it wasn't worth the effort. The authority she exercised over me went overboard. She was on one big power trip and I began to resent her. I was fed up of everything she did. I was like a bird inside a cage struggling to be free. So on the verge of exasperation, I decided to leave. I didn't regret leaving. In fact as soon as I left, new doors opened.

I had learned to speak Thai better. I had travelled to a lot of places in Thailand - as far south as Pattani and as far north as Chiangmai. I had met a lot of people. Above all, I had rediscovered my freedom.

If I were to re-live those days, I should have distanced myself a bit more from my coordinator. Perhaps it is not only coordinators we have to keep at arm's length but also directors, co-teachers and even students because it could create complications in the future. I should have subscribed to the saying, "familiarity breeds contempt."

How about you? Are you in good terms with your coordinator?


l am in the same situation right now just like you, l don't know how long l still can keep myself calm down. the worse thing is that it's hard for me to say good-bye to those bastards because of my highly paid salary accumulated through those hard-working years! leaving or staying is just one step in front of me!

By william, (15th March 2012)

Reading this article, I feel like I almost wrote it myself, with a few changes.

This brings me back to me first year teaching in Thailand (having previously taught in Japan and Korea). I started a new job, and instantly actually loved it! That "pink cloud" lasted about a year. I slowly became tired of the same old problems, over and over and.......... It was almost like they were doing it on purpose just to see you squirm. Needless to say, i stayed there almost 4 years. I was not happy going to work my last year there, it was almost a struggle. My boss at the time had received a promotion, but was still my boss. That's when things got worse. She suddenly got lazy and acted different towards the staff she previously got along with quite well.

Well......... I left. Man am I glad I did. I felt like the place was bringing me down, and it was. I moved to a new school, met new people, and found a new city. I now have a boss who could care less, in a good way. I see her maybe once or twice a month. As long as I do my job, she leaves me alone. I will keep this in mind if I ever go somewhere else. Keep your head down, do your job. It may seem anti-social, but you will thank yourself in a few years when the social bugs are all of a sudden dropping like flies.

By Ron, BKK (8th March 2012)

I agree with you. familiarity breeds contempt.

By Nic Hughes, Bangkok (14th February 2012)

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