It’s coming up to ten years since I started in TEFL and I’ve had a number of great experiences with the many schools / companies I’ve worked with.
Of course there have been some downs too but that’s to be expected in any job. During the years I’ve been lucky enough to move up the pay ladder, starting from 38,000 a month to over double that now. However, I’m probably at a point where I need to decide if I want to become a TEFL manager in terms of career development and making money.
I previously wrote about the differences between a teacher working in TEFL and the international school route and see that as a standard TEFL teacher I can probably get up to 100,000 baht a month for a 20-hour teaching week. There’s obviously overtime and other jobs which could push up income but then there’s the alternative of managing which means that rates of 120,000 + would be achievable at the right schools.
Of course international school teachers can make similar money from teaching but I explained in the above mentioned article why I’m sticking to TEFL.
The question is, would I really want to work in management?
Why I came here
I certainly didn’t come to Thailand to become involved in some kind of rat race. I’m not afraid of hard work but I need to be sure that I have plenty of time for myself. Something I love about TEFL work is that as soon as I walk out of the door each day, I don’t have to think about my job. That’s certainly not true as a manager.
I used to work in sales and hated having to check emails in the evening at home and on weekends, I wouldn’t want to go back to that again. TEFL is also a seven days a week job which means managers are usually always on call. You never know when you’ll get a call or email which needs to be actioned straight away. That doesn’t sound too relaxing to me.
There’s nothing wrong with having certain responsibilities, in fact I enjoy looking after certain projects and working in different areas, not just in the classroom. However, I imagine a TEFL manager can often be overworked and have to deal with a lot of things which aren’t too much fun. It doesn’t always come down to money, but if I looked at the responsibilities and workload compared to salary, I’d need a hefty bump to consider it.
In many schools the manager is also the designated cover teacher. This means that you may have to teach a full day, or at least a few classes whilst you arrange cover, and then deal with management duties.
I worked in a school ages ago where absenteeism was ridiculous. One teacher called in twenty minutes before class to say he wasn’t coming in as he couldn’t get hot water in his shower so wasn’t clean enough. Another teacher had been out all night and vomited in the bin in the classroom. In both cases the manager had to cover all day.
Often being a TEFL manager means you aren’t really the person in charge. There will be an owner or someone else higher up the chain who you have to report to and deal with. You might have all these great ideas and then they’re either stolen by your manager or not even listened to. In the end, you may find yourself doing a lot of mundane duties just to please your new boss.
Often the role of management can be lonely in the sense that you’re between the teachers and the owners. You have to play both sides carefully and often have opposing thoughts to deal with. I can only imagine this must become very stressful at certain times.
Tired of teaching
A lot of people talk about being tired of teaching and see management as a way of cutting down (or out) hours in the classroom. I’m sure all of us have days where we never want to see the inside of a classroom but I’m sure managers do miss it in some sense.
The strange thing is that often TEFL managers are required to have advanced qualifications which should, in theory, make them better teachers. With these qualifications and experience these teachers are then taken out of the classroom and it seems a little counter-productive to me.
Of course managers are often responsible for training and development. However, as managers have been out of the classroom for, potentially, a long time, they may be a little rusty when it comes to teaching or not up with the latest theories etc.
On the other hand, it is of course possible that managers do teach a lot, particularly if their teachers are fond of a night out before early classes the next day…
Becoming a TEFL manager
So there must be a few reasons why people move into TEFL management. Well, the money is better and for some it’s worth it if they have higher living costs etc.
There are obviously people who want to live in Thailand but don’t fancy teaching more than a few years so management becomes attractive to them. I used to work with one teacher who moved into management because he wanted a few years experience running a team before moving back to the UK to work there. Then there’s the fact that some people just enjoy it. Perhaps they didn’t come here for a laid-back life and they enjoy throwing themselves into their work.
Personally, I believe I’ll try it one day but not for the next couple of years. I’m keen to develop my teaching and see what the future holds from there.
If you enjoyed this blog, check out my website - Life in a New Country
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