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Myanmar: Brianworks-Total Group

 
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getbehindthemule



Joined: 15 Oct 2015
Posts: 432
Location: Shanghai

PostPosted: Thu Mar 31, 2016 5:10 am    Post subject: Myanmar: Brianworks-Total Group Reply with quote

Is anybody familiar with, or had any experience with, this group of integrated schools in Myanmar?

brainworks-total.com
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Sudz



Joined: 09 Aug 2004
Posts: 431

PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2016 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have heard mixed things. Refer to this forum:

http://www.expat.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=230820
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getbehindthemule



Joined: 15 Oct 2015
Posts: 432
Location: Shanghai

PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 12:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sudz wrote:
Have heard mixed things. Refer to this forum:

http://www.expat.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=230820



Thanks for the link.
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Prof.Gringo



Joined: 07 Nov 2006
Posts: 2217
Location: Dang Cong San Viet Nam Quang Vinh Muon Nam!

PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 6:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

getbehindthemule wrote:
Sudz wrote:
Have heard mixed things. Refer to this forum:

http://www.expat.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=230820



Thanks for the link.


Did you take the job in Burma?
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BocaNY



Joined: 24 Mar 2009
Posts: 131

PostPosted: Wed Jun 22, 2016 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a horrible school to work for. It is consider the worst school to work for. I know people who work for and have worked for that school. Their HR guy is a sexist and racist man. He takes joy in threatening people and does it with a smile. The school ascribes to this Anthony Robins mentality . They have the maids spy on the teachers who are fully grown adults some even in their 40's and they treat them like kids.

They tell the Chinese and Indian teachers that they are not allowed to hang out with the western teachers. Western teachers are told not to hang out with them or the local teachers and that they can't have any of them over at school housing.

They claim that they are a not for profit school and that most of their students come from low middle class families or people who drive taxis and stuff. In fact most of the students are well off with kids complaining that they only get a taxi home while their friends get a driver. They made all the students by a tablet that they were selling even though internet connectivity is poor in Myanmar. The sold the tablets for $350 each! Do a quick check online to find out that they sell for $150. Also the program that was installed on them was a FREE downloadable program.

They fire good teachers but keep drunks and people who clearly are using drugs. I could go on and on. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

If you are desperate for a job and are able to keep your head down and be a sheep and not question anything then you will be fine. I recommend to take the stipend offered for housing instead of living in one of their apartments. It's easy enough to find a good place to leave with the housing stipend they offer.
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trex



Joined: 03 Jan 2017
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2017 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I’d like to add a few comments to enhance those in the thread and those included in the embedded link. I was with Brainworks-Total for 5 months or so during which time I had the privilege to partner-teach with some very fine expat and local teachers (especially a Secondary teacher and her remarkable students). I learned a lot about the Myanmar people, and have very good memories.

I have to echo the comments about being paid in full and on time, and having docs and tickets for the visa run provided on time. Housing is good (yes, you’ll be monitored, probably because there are local guarantors legally responsible for the property and expat behavior), and there are strong efforts to accommodate reasonable requests from expat staff. The local staff doesn’t have it so good.

As promised, I was met in the Yangon airport by the HR head, taken for dinner, housed very well then taken for orientation after a day of rest. The training was more of a series of motivational seminars, which some didn’t stay to complete. Those who did were sometimes confused by the purpose.

Unfortunately, the HR head broke his promise to countersign the contract. All of us waited 4 months then never asked further. We later learned there had been problems with previous agreements, and that binding contracts were unavailable for first-year staff.

Yes, he does try to coerce would-be recruits and does threaten staff, fires some of his ‘awesome teachers’ for needing med attention during/after school hours or for not having enough student-time conversation during his 10 minute class observation or for not fitting in with the BWT ‘wholistic’ (his spelling) environment, which is odd considering that some of the long timers are deep alcoholics or much, much worse.

Yes, the HR head does publicly ridicule Myanmar, Indian and Chinese staff for their poor English, but all I encountered were functional in the language—some amazingly so. He often loudly complains about the state of the infrastructure in Myanmar and, sadly, the Myanmar people.

Yes, there is a high turnover at all branches. Several of us from the same orientation sessions have kept in touch. We’re still mystified by the HR head’s behaviour, and never grasped his intentions for the staff, students and Myanmarese in general.

Yes, there is a strong Tony Robins element to the programs and the admin structure. There still might be available on-line vids of the TR creed shouted by the kindy students. This is a bit disconcerting.
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CTravel32



Joined: 01 Mar 2017
Posts: 42

PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2017 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sudz wrote:
Have heard mixed things. Refer to this forum:

http://www.expat.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=230820


I would take much of what is said in that link with a grain of salt. I have had two skype interviews, thus far, with one of the hiring managers and he seems like a nice enough bloke. I never under estimate the possibility that some of those people are just bitter/turned away. The guy even showed me pics of the apartment and seemed to be, overall, straightforward in what the school has to offer.

I am not saying I am going to get a job offer, I might not. But I saw nothing wrong with the place. It is all about attitude IMO.
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Sudz



Joined: 09 Aug 2004
Posts: 431

PostPosted: Tue May 02, 2017 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not saying you couldn't have a positive experience there, though from what I've read the place does have some serious issues (ones that would likely annoy more experienced teachers rather than newcomers). It's possible that there are a couple of cases of teachers bashing the school based on their own failures, though actually I find some of the more positive reviews to be of greater suspicion (overly positive, poor English grammar/punctuation....sounds like they were put there by their Burmese admin).

Again, I think it could be more enriching than a lot of over positions available to teachers newer to the game - despite the flaws. You won't really know for sure until you actually work there. With regards to apartments, I have heard good things (though this isn't necessarily indicative as to the quality of the school itself). I wouldn't totally dismiss the comments on that forum.

Actually, I went through the interview process a while back, and was offered a job. Didn't end up taking it. The main guy seemed nice, though I will echo the comment from others that it felt as though they were selling the school a bit (he was doing more talking than myself).

I wouldn't ignore comments from people like trex above. They seem to be echoed by more than person. On the other hand, you may be able to have a good experience regardless of the flaws (working at a private school in Burma sounds far more appealing to myself than working at a language mill in Korea).
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CTravel32



Joined: 01 Mar 2017
Posts: 42

PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I ended up getting two job offers from Myanmar, the second being this one. I was actually serious about going to Myanmar for this position as the person who interviewed me seemed more open to the fact that I had a wife with me. But I suppose I took too long in getting the airline tickets (waiting for a friend who works with airlines to help my wife and I out with cheaper tickets) and he, somewhat quickly, offered the second candidate my position. No hard feelings, but sometimes it is hard to make a move halfway around the world so quickly, especially since they seem to hire (like in March) for a start date around Mid May. Tough turn around time.
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trex



Joined: 03 Jan 2017
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My post was designed to express my experiences in a balanced way--good and bad aspects of the company in question.

I realized through several encounters with the HR head (when he responded to calls and emails, then sometimes addressed to some extent my concerns--primarily the wrong behavior of some of my colleagues) that I couldn't trust him or understand his motives.

Also, at some point, when I realized the contract would not be countersigned and that there wouldn't be feedback regarding my probationary period, I knew my time there was coming to an end. My choice.

I realized too that the HR head did not have any (verifiable or otherwise) background in education--beyond 'dog training' and something like SUV instruction--and wondered what sort of reference would be available, should one ever be available at all, and whether it would be taken seriously.

It was a simple decision on my part.
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beth_hodgkins



Joined: 27 Jun 2017
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Tue Jul 04, 2017 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My interaction with the BWT administration was distressing . I arrived to cover for a runner, then was highly uninterested in extending so the personnel director—Mr. B— said my services would no longer be needed post contract—I was no longer part of their ‘long range plans’. In fact, maybe I wouldn’t be allowed to finish the school year, should someone manage to arrive early. Fine with me. Once it was clear a highly touted new teacher wasn’t going to show, I was pressured (multiple furious calls/messages, some threatening ) into agreeing to stay . Not fine with me as I had another position beginning 3 months later and wanted to travel before the Singapore contract began. I might have been VERY charitable/tried to recruit a replacement but I had been informed repeatedly that the new teacher’s qualifs were ‘more of what we want here” and that I didn’t really fit in with their (the Robbins) approach or mind set. After giving more than sufficient and final notice not to continue with BWT, Mr. B characterized me as being inflexible and not playing for the team and not understanding Burmese culture?? Goodness!

I gleefully took the Singapore position where there;s a stable environment and a professional attitude towards staff. This I know from the timely and genuinely helpful responses to my many questions/concerns. I accept that Myanmar is a newer venue for the EFL trade, but certainly BWT deserves what it does to itself , and this largely due to abusive handling of teachers and hiring-retention catastrophes. Some advice:, do have something else lined up before and during your employment there. My long awaited reference letter was an advert for this awesome company with a statement of my employment dates. I now look back, remember what Mr. B told me during the Skype interview: ignore negative press about the company “those people should wipe the snot from their noses”. He brought up the topic without any prompting.

The country is worth looking into, though. Great peoples, wonderful cultures. Really. There are good positions in reputable schools.

The following might be of some interest to those considering a post there.


Mr. Bee’s BUSY DAY (branch visit log)

AM

6:30—time to get crackin’, many things to muck up today
7:05—hope to have personal messages from the company investors or Anthony Robbins
7:08—maybe later today
7:12—I prostrate myself and chant the Robbins mantra; that’ll work
8:00—Hideous breakfast (antelope?) served in the hotel restaurant; electricity outage AGAIN
8:33—If I delay the school transportation, will teachers have more anxiety? anyway need to pick up a few sundries on the way; why aren’t shops open yet? how DO they do business here? are Burmese (Chinese?) teachers really fined for each minute tardy?
8:43—No worries, I’ll initial their time cards, unless I forget
8:43—I forgot
8:47—time to ignore that exhaust fumes from the generator flood the covered waiting area for kindy students; google later: what’s carbon moxide?
9:15—I’ll have a walk about the building, overlook the intoxicated foreign bloke tossing one lad’s supplies out the window (strong candidate for recruiter position,we’ll chat later)
9:40—time to ignore the reason floor tiles on 2 stories are buckling up; I’ll inform everyone ‘it’s due to the massive temperature swings’ and not shoddy construction; they’ll believe me, I believe me
10:00—I scoff at a senior Buddhist monk arriving to set up a charity activity; I’ve cleverly alienated the majority of the community, irreversibly damaged the school’s reputation
10:30—I barge into classrooms, play simple games (‘This is the church, this is the steeple….’) with the kids whilst teachers are presenting (menacing grin at teachers)
11:47—check for Anthony Robbins’ messages, ignore staff pleas for responses
11:58—definitely tomorrow he’ll write (deep sigh)
11:59—outgoing calls to company investors go unanswered
12:00—definitely tomorrow they’ll answer (deep shrug)

PM

12:01—excellent opportunity to unnerve everyone at lunch; make painfully moronic comments about strange foods; kids and teachers shying away from me—a sign of acceptance
12:23—corner 3 conscientious foreign teachers in their office, eating while working; great time to mention I just canned a PhD holder at another branch for having an attitude (menacing stare and grin)
1:00—rounds again to observe and make snap judgements about teacher performance, though I don’t hold a degree, never taught, don't have any idea about the lesson’s subject matter or any subject matter whatsoever
1:08—enter a Burmese language class (or is it Chinese, or are they the same? will google later); impress everyone by counting 1-8 (or maybe 7, who knows?) in French
1:40—meet with HOS, discuss finances, fail to notice she’s been skimming cash from building and maintenance funds, hasn’t come close to reaching recruitment goals; let’s both ignore the scary foreign teachers—the kids adore them; we believe us
2:00—monk speaks to entire school so I stand arms crossed and glare during the presentation; why doesn’t he just use English like everyone else?
2:30—phone call from recruited teacher, sternly inform her again to ignore comments on the web—except the camouflaged ones I added to (try to) give a good impression of the company
2:32—stroll about the play area, saunter to Burmese or Chinese (or both) teachers and ask what they think about the ROHINGA situation; their expressions of disbelief then fear are a sign of respect
3:00ish—stumble across the vehicle lane as children are picked up , ask the terrible drivers what they think about the ROHINGA situation; their expressions of disbelief then fear are a sign of respect
4:30ish—herd all staff into assembly area to show a Hollywood blockbuster containing a very important moral
4:35ish—trying to enlarge the projection by trifling with computer
4:46—Burmese (maybe Chinese?) teacher asks whether she may move the table holding the projector back half a meter; I knew that
4:47—I explain that I was trying to enhance the sound; they believe me, I believe me
5:02—Chinese (maybe Chinese ? maybe Burmese? will google later) staff request film subtitles be displayed; I effectively counter by questioning whether they are qualified teachers; I finally give in; they show respect by looking at the floor for the next 12 minutes
6:55—film over; all staff are hurriedly storing chairs and tables, exiting as they listen to me explain the moral; another successful seminar
7:30—1 final sweep of the school; align a chair in the lobby, browbeat the janitor; delay the school transportation departure a bit longer by having an extended conversation with HOS, ask her embarrassing personal questions in front of everyone; oddly, teachers look forward to going home, curiously decline my invitation to have dinner, definitely tomorrow they’ll accept, I believe me
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