As some of you may know, I'm currently working as a teacher in China. I have three months left on my contract, and while I love the kids and the experiences I've had so far, the school's administration is a complete nightmare and February can't come soon enough. Here is just a taste of the fuckery I've had to deal with recently, to serve as a cautionary tale in picking a school to work with if you decide to teach abroad.
It's cold in my small, seaside town, you guys. It's fucking cold. Our school building is... not nice. By Chinese standards, it's not nice. I can deal with squat toilets, grimy buildings, whatever. I'm really not too picky. But our school genuinely looks run down. The one toilet is always backed up and smells of pee, or worse, crap. The little equipment we have is always breaking down and the boss doesn't want to spend money to fix it, or buy more ink for the printer or whatever. Anyways, I can deal, but now it's cold and the school, which is housed in an old hospital building, doesn't have heating. So, each classroom is equipped with an AC/heating unit, and my classroom was just upgraded with a brand new one. But, of course, my assistant and I were told not to use it. It's there for show. My boyfriend, also a teacher, has a similar unit, but nobody has told him not to use it. Well, I said fuck it and we've been using it. The kids don't deserve to sit in their winter coats, shivering through my class, while there's a perfectly good AC right there. But the damn guy who wired the thing fucked up! He installed a fuse box right next to it and either the box is really wonky, or he didn't know what he was doing, because the damn thing will flip off after 20 minutes of working. But I guess that's a moot point since we're not allowed to use it.
Another thing that has been driving me crazy is the lack of communication from administration. I understand this is actually a fairly common way of dealing with foreign teachers, but it really makes my job harder and more stressful. Basically, we're either not given all the relevant information about new classes, curriculum changes and promotional events, or we're outright lied to. I have to hear everything about a new adult class they want me to teach second- or third-hand from my assistant, who also doesn't get all the information. This is despite the fact that they want me to plan the whole class, make a curriculum and pick books. Not to mention it's supposed to be a year-long class, while I'm only here for three more months. Over the summer, we were told to plan a 15-day oral English class for kids, with the stated purpose of improving the students' spoken English. Only halfway through the class, did we actually find out it was a promotional class to attract new students and the admin was unhappy, because we weren't doing a good enough job of that. Well, I improved the spoken English of my students, because that's what I thought they wanted me to do. I'm still seeing that improvement in class in one of my worst students, who now can actually keep up with the class.
The worst offense, though, is the complete disregard and almost malicious treatment of employees. The foreign teachers are kind of shielded from it, because we're foreigners and we're expensive to replace, but the Chinese assistants we work with are treated abominably. The school has a headmaster, whose job is supposedly disciplining students, but all he does is make the assistants' lives miserable. He has daily meetings with them, where he berates them and the job they're doing. The other day, he observed my class and after the kids had done a great job learning the new vocab and some sentences, I wanted to play a game with them for 10 minutes. Instead, he jumped in and yelled at them for 5 minutes because they hadn't been sitting straight and then he blamed my assistant for it. My students and their parents have also complained about him hitting the kids. They fucking blamed one of the assistants, who had nothing to do with organizing the Halloween party, because the "pin the arm on the skeleton" game I put in her classroom was too boring! The assistants all agree that the working conditions at the school are terrible, so I know this isn't just my Western sensibilities or something.
Anyways, I know this is partly my own fault for going into it kind of blind, but we did speak with other foreign teachers before coming here and, while they had a lot of complaints about the school when we got here, they didn't really say anything while we were vetting the school. I don't know how this compares to other schools in China. I do still enjoy the experience and teaching is very rewarding, but sometimes a good venting is in order.