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Quitting my job
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revel



Joined: 06 Jan 2004
Posts: 532

PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2004 7:13 am    Post subject: Quitting my job Reply with quote

Good morning all!

I open this topic in order to hear what others have to say on it. I am seriously considering quitting my job as an ESL teacher, a job I have enjoyed for over twenty years and will probably miss once I have left it behind.

The reasons are not based in the work itself. Anyone who has bothered to read my many detailed posts on this forum would say that I love this work, am creative and sensitive, and anyone would be right in coming to that conclusion. I feel that my ideas are appreciated here, even if some details of my way of doing things might be controversial or just plain wrong. In any case, I have worked long and hard to reach the level of effectivenes that I have and not being a very modest person in the first place, am sure that I am an excellent teacher, a responsible employee and in general, a nice guy.

This year, however, I have found myself losing sleep over my work conditions. I have found myself standing up for my rights as an employee and forcing the boss to recognize his mistakes in his attitude towards his teachers. The most recent has been making us all sign a special clause in our contracts agreeing to donate up to 100 hours to the company, without pay, for teacher training. Turns out that in legal terms he can not include such a clause and had I not checked out the legality of this clause, he would have continued to simply let us believe that such a donation of our time was obligatory. Though I got what I wanted, which was his recognition of this legal fact, he is unhappy for having been caught and I am uncomfortable for having been the one who had to insist that it be brought to light.

Now, there is a pay issue that must also be brought to light. Under the convenio (a sort of syndical agreement) which rules the legal aspects of my type of work, I am paid a base salary with certain pluses, such as transportation. I have been told from the beginning that I was making, as a salary, let's say, 9.50€ an hour. However, part of that salary is the transportation plus. There are other pluses included in that salary, and once removed, the actual salary is, say, 7.30€ an hour. Why was I fooled into believing that I was really making the higher salary? Why is my transportation plus being used as an excuse for paying me the agreed salary? Well, the boss only has to pay taxes on my base salary, not on the transportation plus (and the other pluses).

Finally, after obliging me to take on a series of classes that are not at all to my advantage, with the threat of not offering me other classes that are more within my capacities, I find that he offers those classes to me as well as other new teachers who have not my tenure in the business nor my proven dedication to giving excellent classes (which is my main contribution to the continued success of this academy). As he tells me that only those who are willing to take whatever is offered will be offered more, he tells me that there simply aren't any more ESL teachers available. He refuses to compensate the four hours a week I spend going to and from this particular class. Well, I think, at least this class will be paid on a monthly, not hourly basis, which means that students pay a monthly fee and I always am paid the same salary, bank holidays notwithstanding. Ooops, wrong again! These classes are only paid by the hour. His explanation is reasonable, but does not take into consideration that he overlooked the care he should be taking towards his teachers in making these contracts, he was evidently only looking at the 75% that he collects from the total paid, mainly for the work of selling the class and a few maintenance hours that the class requires, usually done by the secretary (and the teachers) who is paid a base rate, no matter what work she is doing.

So, once again I have to set aside my love for the work, the good time I spend in class, the pleasure of a job that in 25 hours a week provides me with the money I need for living, and take up an agressive "treat me with respect" attitude with the boss. I am literally stressed out by this class and by this situation and am considering taking the risk: You must pay me this class monthly and not hourly or you must look for another teacher to do the class beginning in January. The consequences may be that I am not offered any more of those succulent temporary adult groups that crop up and last a month or two. I may not be contracted to work at this place the next year. What gets my goat is that I am a responsible worker, don't like to make waves, consider my work as a teacher a vocation and not just a job, etc....and this character of having to stand up for my rights has finally made me begin to really consider getting a job as a waiter or a gardens-and-parks worker.

Well, I've gotten that off my chest, I still have to face that wretched class plus all the classes this afternoon, plus make lunch and pay the rent and iron the shirts and buy vegetables. I will have to consult with my soliciter on the contract and other legal matters before I make this announcement. And I am still wondering if the decision is the best I can make. In any case, if any of you have any comments on the subject, you can be sure that I will read them with pleasure and take them into consideration in the final making of this decision. I thank you all in advance.

peace,
revel.
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woodcutter



Joined: 19 Jun 2004
Posts: 1303
Location: London

PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2004 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are other teaching jobs out there, and I have wondered before why you don't switch to a better school.

If all else fails, think Korea!
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lolwhites



Joined: 16 Jul 2003
Posts: 1321
Location: France

PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2004 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I worked in Spain for four years before giving up on place due to the work conditions. It's sad to see so little has changed.

Unfortunately, woodcutter, as I remember most of the schools were similar in the way they treated their staff. Since most teachers were just passing through on their travels and didn't plan on staying more than a couple of years, they wouldn't stick up for better conditions and so the owners could pretty much do as they liked. I'm surprised revel's boss knows about the law - mine just ignored it and paid half our wages in cash under the table.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3008
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2004 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Revel! I guess if I recommend you quit your teaching job, you won't be around much on Dave's in the future? Crying or Very sad Don't quit, then!

But seriously, I thought I knew a lot about you, but I didn't know even the basics e.g. that you don't get a fixed salary (it's a good job Laughing (pun) that you mentioned that, because I have an interview soon with a company that seems to have a similar system, where "popular" teachers - with who, actually the students, or more the boss?! - get the extra work).

The general impression I'm getting from your post is that there are too many problems for it to not be a case of your boss trying to get one too many over on you, but then again, are they individually really really huge problems?

I'd say you don't really have a right to expect to be awarded only the best classes on the basis of "tenure" alone, there might be timetabling contraints, and it could cause possible resentment among your colleagues if you were favored too much. I also can't see that you can pick and choose classes too much if you want to remain affiliated to the academy (sounds more like an agency!) in any meaningful (read, "loyal") sense. Bosses generally say you can refuse overtime etc, but you can tell when they are desperate. Laughing

Hmm things get trickier with the pay. If you were told you would be getting a higher wage, but do not actually collect that wage (unless, presumably, you do actually travel and can therefore claim the transportation - subsidized transportation? - back), and/or do not collect it at the agreed rate and/or time (monthly vs. hourly), well, that is verging on "non-negotiable" to me, and I would be tempted to get legal advice at least (especially if you calculate you are owed or have lost earnings as a result of the changing arrangements), if not "walk". I don't take BS "phony" contracts lightly.* A contract is a "meeting of minds", followed by a signiature and a handshake, and if the minds never really met it has no legal force and would begin to chafe at my self-respect, you can rarely win back your honour in these matters, but you can salvage your dignity.

THAT BEING SAID, at least money is coming in, and you don't want to be the proudest toilet attendant or bum on a park bench who ever didn't live (=not have a nice lifestyle) because you made a hasty decision. You may need to bide your time if you don't have enough put by to bide you through the leaner times ahead if you really can't stand it and do indeed decide to quit (that is, don't imagine for a second that all your troubles will be over once you don't have to see your boss anymore). Then there are the visa regulations for non-EU citizens to think about, and even if you already have citizenship, do Spanish employers actually employ that many foreigners, and if so, in which (alternative) lines of work etc. You seem to have the Spanish skills down already at least.

It's interesting that you put the training thing first. I think I would go crazy having to set aside 100 PAID training hours per year (around 2 per week!), the unpaid nature of it must grate. I think your boss was overstepping the mark to try to introduce that in an established workplace (it would be no problem if all employees willing to sign were new), and it implies that he is obsessed that you are all lacking the skills or doing everything that it is in your power to do wrong, just to subvert the company and lose students. Rolling Eyes

Then again, if the training he has in mind is of quality, and would provide you with genuine knowledge and extra skills, then it would be time well spent (although still, not money well spent by him), and you could argue that only two hours a week would be hardly enough time to accomplish anything than set up the chairs in the meeting room to only then have to pack them away again.

I myself am a bit schizophrenic about training, if an employer expects miracles or blames poor student motivation etc on me directly then I resent not having a piece of their "wisdom", but most of the training you attend is really, let's be blunt, an absolute joke, and you could do better reading a book at home (on the subject, of course) and maybe even do a better job of training the trainers too (then again, maybe not). This all comes down to the "brains OFF, hands or tongues ON" mentality that assumes people become experts by experiencing and therefore learning, well, hardly anything at all, as teachers but especially as students (or worse, teachers-made-students). God my neck is stiff, excuse me while I rub it and roll my eyes. Rolling Eyes

Anyway, I have said enough here and don't want to influence you too much one way or the other. The decision, as they always say, is ultimately down to you, revvers.


* Here's my story, then: I was offered a job at a supposedly "top" private high school in Saitama. I noticed there was something in the contract about "submitting detailed curriculum outlines", and queried that. I was told that I didn't really need to worry about it, the school had had the system up and running for years and there'd be stuff I could still use if I needed, all I had to do was prepare for my own classes. Fine, I thought, and accepted the job.

When I got there, however, it soon became apparent that they did not have enough foreign teachers (3 FT, compared to at least nine Japanese teachers of English, most of whom appeared to be FT also, but who were responsible for only one or at most two grades, and then, ONLY for planning for their individual, solo grammar/lecture-style classes, which formed the "serious" half of the English teaching besides us AET's "conversation" classes - no prizes for guessing which type of class generally requires more imagination and therfore more planning generally, even if in terms of raw - often inaccurate or too prescriptive! - "knowledge" being covered or conveyed, there may be a substantial "difference", which could spell trouble for an unknowledgeable teacher - not that JTEs are generally UNknowledgeable or totally uninformed; it's just, getting "conversations" "just right" requires that little bit "extra", you know?), so the contact/teaching time was quite high (over 20 per week, which given a 6-period school day, is quite a lot. Even if you disagree, having to teach ate into preparation time and broke concentration for that preparation - more on the amount of preparation required below!).

To make matters worse, the school had been expanding at such a rate that it was no longer possible for any one AET to be responsible for only one or at most two grades (the lower of which now had over 10 classes), even if they'd hired SIX AETs, so each of the 3 AETs had to take on at least four grades (this was a combined junior and senior high school, six grades in total). It would've obviously been pretty pressured to prepare materials for four, five or six grades, so the system that the school came up with was to assign a certain teacher planning responsibilities for a certain number of grades. (It didn't help that the head teachers weren't bothering to keep any of the past materials, they seemed to not be bothering to even seriously look at let alone assess and collate the better stuff amongst all that was being produced, I have to presume they didn't think any of it was ultimately worthy of their close consideration...and I'd probably have to agree...but what can you expect of FT teachers at the end of a full day's teaching and whatever misellaneous extra tasks and duties - teachers who had not been expecting and had certainly not agreed to such a system, to being materials developers and lesson plan writers, in their own time, for other teachers? I myself would have been more able to accept such a system without too many grievances had the school been more appreciative of my efforts and acknowledged that they had not shown any of us much respect in the contractual stages and hiring process, but perhaps it was my company's fault for not having got things clarified? That got really irritating, not knowing who was to blame, having the school and company seem to play off against each other, and having them both seem to round on me for wanting to know what had gone wrong in their secretive negotiations. I definitely will not be working for a Japanese recruitment agency again! It seemed my colleagues who were working for western-managed agencies could complain and not upset their bosses at least with their "work ethics". More below).

What all the above meant was that I was not, in fact, just planning my own classes, but having to write explicit lesson plans and copy ALL the required materials I was needing to develop (games, worksheets, vocab quizzes, answer sheets, you name it), literally hundreds of copies per day, and distribute them to over a dozen staff in advance between two buildings, and generally run around reminding people to do things on day 1 and not do things on day 2; I was a materials developer after the teaching day was finished and had the responsibilites of two jobs, if not two jobs themselves (I therefore think you'll agree with me when I "basically" say I had two jobs, although my contract/the agreement I entered into only stated one).

I suppose some teachers would wet themselves at the "DOS"-like responsibilities I was "given", but they'd be forgetting that most DOS's don't have FT teaching commitments, certainly not those needing to develop original materials non-stop (that is, write and probably ultimately be reduced to "making up" the curriculum as they go along and/or just follow the textbook - always and in this case certainly a so-so one - in order to survive); then, you'd only be a "DOS" to your foreign colleagues, not to the standoffish and generally totally uninterested Japanese teachers, the more senior and/or unpleasant of whom almost certainly resent whatever respect they have to give you and whatever ideas you might have. Also, as I've said, it all seemed so, well, pointless, to be expected to produce such thorough plans and "finished" (reasonably polished) materials non-stop when the management didn't seem to consider any of it worthy enough to be considered incorporable into a proper curriculum...and therein lies the crux of the matter: the management was doing absolutely nothing to make the lives of any (present and especially future) teachers any easier, and seemed to believe that they were getting the "freshest possible" ideas from new/fresh to the school/experienced, but tired and, frankly, disgruntled teachers. Obviously this crap kind of system and lack of openness, honesty and fair dealings with teachers (at the contractual and every subsequent stage) would not and never will produce optimal results, unless the teachers are so deperate for the job (and abuse) that they are prepared to put up with less than ideal working conditions for as long as the employer finds them convenient and economical (which will be forever - there's a word for all this: "exploitation").

It would've really helped if the school had hired just one or two extra AETs, simply to distribute the planning a little more evenly; they did get some foreign teachers from the elementary wing of the "compound" to only teach high school level "part-time", that is, whenever their schedules allowed them to take certain classes off of our hands (ha, I was actually over my contractual limit until my company pointed that out to the school and got the elementary guys involved) but, because they weren't curriculum developers in their every waking moment outside of teaching, they were more or less "dead weight". Nice people and all that, though.

I also had to teach, almost to the letter, lesson plans given to me by AETs responsible for the grades I was not (I still had classes in those grades to teach), and those from one guy especially were always very thin. (If ever a teacher couldn't get a lesson plan out in time, the Japanese teachers especially would start freaking out and wondering what the hell they were "supposed" to be doing for that lesson; the foreign teachers, thankfully, could fill the occassional gap using their initiative, but due to everyone being so busy, this "covering" obviously wasn't something anybody expected to be asked to do or enjoyed doing, which put even more pressure on the materials writers. If only we'd been able to plan for just our own classes, and then, for one or two grades at most!).

It got to the point where I was often the last person to leave - after all the Japanese had - around 10 pm, had to get up at 3 or 4 am to finish typing up lesson plans, and was often one of the first back the next day to do stacks of copying and run around. I'm not one to shirk responsibility, but that job was just "a bit" crazy, very different from how I was imagining it (I like to have some dialogue with fellow professionals, not just shove things at them and have things shoved at me, and everyone was so preoccupied with their "own" lesson plan writing and materials development that we often didn't really have time to read what others gave us, if and when the stuff was submitted far enough in advance to be read through and thought about much!), so I felt that I had no choice but to bring the discrepancy between the contract and actual conditions to my company's attention.

My company was actually quite angry that they had been more or less lied to and given false assurances about what a well-run ship it was at the school, and intervened on my behalf (they'd been assuming also that the curriculum had been building up over the years, and that I wouldn't be needing to start from absolute scratch again, at least not for the explicit benefit of any teacher or classes other than me and my own - and for my own purposes, non-explicit "plans" and single sets of "rougher"/"trial" materials would've been perfectly in order (back of the envelope rather than always needing to be pushing the envelope stuff).

I think they probed and prodded a little too hard, though (and, to be honest, my "performance", appearance, temper etc did begin to suffer), so the school basically cancelled the contract and I lost my job. I was thinking of quitting anyway, because of the whole set-up and attitude of the students and heads generally (see thread link below), but my company had some doubtlessly illegal clause saying that if I didn't do two years in that hellhole, I'd be responsible for their financial loss (I never took the clause that seriously, it was more because I needed the job that I stayed as long there as I did). I am SURE the other foreign teachers there will not be renewing their contracts with that school (if the school deigns to offer them one).

In summary, then, that school really should have had "detailed curriculum outlines" (that is, concrete lesson plans, finished and copiable supplementary activity materials, vocabulary lists for test construction, model exam papers etc) submitted and made ready weeks if not months or even terms and whole years ahead by dedicated curriculum and materials developers proper, rather than the school expecting full-time teachers to produce such things non-stop and on the spur of the tired evening moment for the school in general (rather than just the individual teacher's own classes and use), and if the bosses had done a decent job of collating all the past teachers' efforts, this particular teacher would not have had any reason to complain - not that the past teachers wouldn't have, however! (Actually, old lesson plans and sometimes materials were there to be had, because the more organized and better among the Japanese teachers kept their copies filed away, but the school didn't want to make these available to me or any other new teacher - that strange insistence on having our "fresh" ideas and all that jazz).

Obviously, current and future teachers at that school are still suffering and will continue to unnecessarily suffer until the management at that school realizes how inefficient and wasteful their regime is. One thing's for sure, the best possible teaching ideas are not being developed or even identified there, and any ideas that "might have been" dwindle and die as the tired and disgruntled staff "quits" (often long before they decide not to renew their contract, if offered one, before actually leaving - staff turnover there is high, nobody stays more than a year), which is all a great shame, because it is the students who lose out the most, and ultimately then the school itself.

By the way, saying we were "AETs" wouldn't reflect the job we did at all. We were the teachers, with the responsibilty, and a sizeable minority of the Japanese were the sulky, resentful (not so much at being denied responsibility, just at having to give up even a second of their teabreaks, especially the part-timers!), unhelpful assistants! I once asked one of the more unpleasant ones just for her quick opinion on an activity I had in mind, and was told, very firmly, that any and all planning was my job...they didn't take much more interest in the actual class either! I think that generally, some boss in a back office had dreamt up something (a split/"double"/two-track English curriculum) that involved far more work for everybody than had ever been anticipated, and we AETs were the ones who got it in the neck from every angle - workload, Japanese colleagues, students, you name it, everyone hated us! Smile

AND YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD TO ROCK THE BOAT, REVEL!!!
Laughing Laughing Laughing


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Wed Mar 30, 2005 6:28 pm; edited 25 times in total
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coffeedecafe



Joined: 17 Sep 2004
Posts: 73
Location: michigan

PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2004 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

having noticed that you posted this fairly recently, and knowing my own tendency to re-evaluate situations each morning based on my feelings at the moment of awaking, i first considered that this topic was no more serious than the effect of the phase of the moon , or the turn of the weather or whether not.
after actually reading what you wrote and the thoughtfull responses of those who have known you longer, i decided that my first guess was wrong.
i also have worked in places where the work was enjoyable, but the management more hindrance than encouragement and guidance. with twenty years in , you may have the resources to actually begin a competitive company to your present employer. that could be satisfying, but may net you an administrative job you hate instead of a nurturing role you get satisfaction from. by all means check options, but actually move only with the most deliberate haste?
i have never been in your position and my longest stint in one position was 15 years. that was not in a teaching capacity, though a secondary responsibility was in the occupational training dept-less than 10% of my responsibility. i have never created my own job, and know that the combined experiences of various contributors may be helpful both to yourself, myself, and others. hope this thread continues.
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lolwhites



Joined: 16 Jul 2003
Posts: 1321
Location: France

PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2004 9:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Before you quit, there is another avenue you might want to explore - then again you may have already tried this...

Where I work now, the management isn't all that it should be either, but at least a significant proportion of the staff are in a union (I'm actually one of the shop stewards), which helps keep them in some form of check. There's certainly be all hell to pay if they tried to demand we put in 100 hours a year for "staff development".

Have you been in touch with your local offices of CCOO or UGT with a view to setting up a branch in your workplace? Your boss is likely to fight it like crazy, but if you're planning on leaving anyway, you have nothing to lose by trying. It doesn't require absolutely everyone to go along with you (though , obviously, the more the better) but if there are sufficient staff who feel the same as you it might be a possiblity worth exploring.
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JuanTwoThree



Joined: 14 Sep 2004
Posts: 947
Location: Spain

PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2004 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have you thought about being "autonomous" (self employed for those who don't understand Spanglish) ?

It's expensive to set up and you need to keep the cash coming in to pay the monthly contribution but after that you set the prices and see if anybody bites. It's very nice if you find a new suburb and can be the first on the scene to offer classes.

Getting paid and missing the company of other teachers are problems too but I had a very pleasant 5 year stint at it before being lured to the academy where I work now.
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Lorikeet



Joined: 18 May 2003
Posts: 1368
Location: San Francisco, California

PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2004 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having had no experience in teaching under such trying circumstances, I couldn't begin to give you advice on alternatives, Revel. Let me just say that the situation does indeed sound untenable. Feeling miserable, tense, and agitated is not good for your body or your soul. Do what you must to improve on your situation, and I wish you the best of luck. Perhaps you will find some ideas here from those who can better empathize with your situation.
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Metamorfose



Joined: 21 Jul 2003
Posts: 345
Location: Brazil

PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 1:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Revel

I don't think I can give you any significant account on this, I guess the only thing I can remark is that teachers anywhere are against instituitions and people who see education as a meaning to cash in to the detriment of real learning.

Here in Brazil things are by no means different for teachers, at least some native speakers get more respect from bosses, for they are the bait for new students who are willing to improve their English conversqational skills.

But anytime I think of throwing everything away, it comes across someone in worse (very worse) conditions than mine, people from the poorest parts of my country that remind me that money is coming (as someone here has said) and at least I can live on this, I can count on the money, and as woodcutter said, can't you find anywhere which the working conditions is a little bit better?

Good luck

José
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revel



Joined: 06 Jan 2004
Posts: 532

PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 7:53 am    Post subject: Thanks for the rapid replies.... Reply with quote

Good morning all!

Thanks for your rapid replies. I am certainly taking them all into consideration as I approach this decision. I have a few comments to make on your comments, but also think that the more personal side of my plight needs to be closed and that the debate might go more towards talking about how to avoid getting into this situation rather than how to get out of it. I think that such debate will be of use to other teachers, both old and new, when they are "negociating" their work conditions before standing before that first blackboard of the term.

The day before yesterday I stood in the kitchen, shouting at my boss all the things I would like to say to him, as I waited for the coffee pot. I do this when something has gotten my goat, that way I get all the tension and the insults out of my system before I begin planning my strategy of action. Listening to myself tell him off in the privacy of my home, putting the poor cat in the part of the boss, helps me to categorize the different things that could be said, should be said, should not be said, can't be said.

Duncan (that is, fluffly before his trans-species reincarnation) has mentioned the true problem here: "The general impression I'm getting from your post is that there are too many problems for it to not be a case of your boss trying to get one too many over on you...." I am not alone in this crisis. There are two other teachers more or less in the same boat as I. One of them is a lovely Spanish girl who, fresh out of university, has been working here for two years which is the total of her experience. The boss considers her a dumb blonde (on first meeting, anyone would possibly think such) and so has consistantly heaped bs onto her, and because she needs the work, she has consciously taken that bs in its stride. However, the pay thing has finally gotten her goat, and not being as dumb, (and not being a natural blonde) she is trying solidarity to get up the courage to stand up for her rights. This boss can not be approached, since he always has a "reasonable" explanation for everything he does. His explanations, though, do not take away the lack of benefits, protection and security that this particular job presents. Yet he expects that we believe his every word, that he is doing the best for us and refuses to listen when we make it clear that his actions are not the best either for us, or for him, as he will lose his best teachers. Unfortunately, since his objective is to make money, he will certainly find two other teachers to replace us, though they may not be as good as we are as teachers, at least they will be new enough to his manipulations to not cause him itchy bug bites for such silly things as the 200€ he should pay us for those bank holidays. He assumes that we are stupid, or perhaps just naieve and also assumes that we are being treated the best as any silly ESL teacher who hasn't yet opened his/her own academy must be treated. At least in the case of myself and this lovely Spanish girl, his assumptions are wrong.

Information has been held back, lied about, twisted and manipulated, to get us to agree to behave as pawns in his scheduling chess-board. It is true that getting the schedule down pat is a nightmare of a job, but it is also true that such scheduling is done first and teachers are assigned later. In order to save money on salaries, teachers are now teaching more students in one hour rather than less students in two. Teachers are asked to work one hour and then have an hour without work and then have to work two more hours. Teachers are asked to transport themselves (most do walk) half an hour every morning to give one hour of class and then have two dead hours at mid-day (just enough time to make and eat lunch, at least) to return to a fractured work schedule in the afternoon, usually having their time tied up from about 9 in the morning until 10 at night. During those eleven hours, we are paid (poorly I might add) for between 4 and 6. We don't have time to do the shopping, iron the clothes, see our mates, we are always filling out grade cards and preparing classes. We are told the day before that we have 200 hours of this or that class to prepare and usually only have the time to adjust to the idea and get the first two classes prepared, doomed to constant preparation throughout the year, always at the last moment. We are told two months into the job that we will not be paid as we have always been paid, but will indeed be paid less despite the fact that the job is more demanding.

On the contract, the boss is always ready with some explanation for how it has been prepared. My first year I was given a contract with 12 hours a week, though I worked some 25. This year I have been given a 3 hour a week contract, though I am working some 20. Though I have insisted that the contract reflect the true number of hours I am working, I have been told that the contract is not important, rather its the amount of hours in the "work life" statistics registered by the government in my name that is important. Naturally, on a 3 hour contract the boss has less fiscal responsibilities than on the 12 hour contract. And if he decides to lessen my work load, it is he who is protected, with the 12 hour contract he is required to pay me those 12 hours, working or not working them. The contract things is something I am consulting with a solicitor this very day and I'll let you know what the results have been.

That's long, will close this post and address other aspects in another.

peace,
revel.
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revel



Joined: 06 Jan 2004
Posts: 532

PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 8:36 am    Post subject: On the "training".... Reply with quote

On the "training", then.

I have mentioned elsewhere that this "training" thing that the boss has is mostly because he has a couple of teachers who are causing complaints from their students because they have not got the sensibility or resources to adjust their teaching to the actual situation. He has got three teachers who are really quite good at their work and praised by students who specifically ask for those teachers when they register for the new term. The boss does not want to sit down with those who need formation and tell them that they need formation, he wants everyone to go through training so that it will be fair to everyone, mostly so that the mediocre teachers don't get the idea that they are, indeed, mediocre.

I was told by a colleague who has been teaching ESL and French for 17 years that the latest training session had been a waste of time. We were obliged to go on a Saturday morning (I did not go since I was not going to be paid for losing my Saturday morning to such) for three hours to be trained in the "Trinity" exam. The trainer showed up about an hour late, spoke for an hour, handed out some photocopies and that was that. Trinity, it seems, is trying to get a corner on some of the lucrative "testing" market that is basically controlled by Cambridge and this "training" session was basically a sales pitch to convince teachers of the value of Trinity over Cambridge. Since teachers don't make decisions over which exam is offered to students to consolidate and certify their studies in academies, I see even less reason to put teachers through such a loss of three hours of a Saturday morning. So, proof of fluffy's attitude towards training, which I share totally.

This might sound like I am against training, which is not at all true. However, I also believe training is the personal responsibility of each teacher. The teacher in our academy who needs training, for example, does not actively seek out such training. This teacher stubbornly gives class in the same dull, pedantic way as has always been done, does not ask for much advice, does not take such advice when offered, and continues to receive the same complaints from students about the performance in class. This teacher is in dire need of some training that might open the eyes to other resources beyond the photocopying of newspaper articles for class, or the stubborn use of "English Only" when students are of such a low level of English that the Only only frustrates.

This attitude on behalf of the boss that all teachers must be treated equally is a double edged knife. Yes, we should all be treated with respect, be paid fairly, do our share of the crap classes in order to deserve the wonderful hours. No problem with that. However, I have worked in several academies where regular pay raises are granted to teachers for their dedication to the work, their longevity in the company. I have worked in several academies where the teachers who go the extra mile are rewarded economically or in other ways over those who simply show up for class and fill the hour. Such awards are not unfair to those who do not receive them, are rather incentives for all who wish to exert themselves. It is offensive that a teacher who has been told that loyalty will be rewarded finds that he/she is treated the same as the teacher who has been brought into the business this term because a person was needed to fill in this or that slot in a schedule sold before personel were considered to carry it out.

I do not need training to make my classes more "fun" or "linguistically whole". This other teacher does. I do need training in current Buisness Vocabulary, (mine dates from the late '70s, early '80s) where as this other teacher does not. What benefit is there, in name of fairness, in having both teachers attend both training sessions? What's more, how is it that I need someone else to tell me how to do things when I have always discovered such on my own time, under my own responsibility, recognizing the need and satisfying that need, through my own capacity as a curious person? Perhaps that other teacher needs someone to say these things out loud. In the end, the effectiveness of any training lies in its application to the work done afterwards. The Trinity training, for example, had absolutely nothing to do with the current needs in the work place and thus was not training at all, but rather a tax-shelter for the boss.

I did take a 100 hour course last year, on my own time, under my own responsibility, on the subject of teacher training. I have been doing teacher training for a number of years and yet needed to be aware of the EU rules and regulations concerning such, as well as the European attitude towards adult education, since it differs often from the American concept of such training. The end result for me was a nice structure for project writing that will (has) assist me in preparing programs for adult education on an administrative level. I have used this information to my benefit since I finished the course. It was something I did not know and now know and has made me a better professional in my field.

As professionals in a community that sees continued formation as an integral part of the work, we have the right and the responsibility to insist that the objectives of this training be clearly outlined before being required to attend. If the objectives are not in keeping with the needs of the development of the professional, then the training should not be required. The Trinity training session was not explained beyond "Saturday morning from ten to one. Be there." Because of the lateness of the announcement, because of a lack of information on the objectives of the training, because of the legal mess it caused, and because I had other plans made weeks before for the same time slot, I simply refused to attend. Those who did attend have told me that I had missed nothing.

Training, if it is important and useful, must be totally scheduled and included in the year's planning. It must be justified by a true need by those who will be taking the training. Confirming what I already know is not an objective for training. Expanding on my knowlege in specific ways that will make me a better professional is indeed a nice general objective. However, the specific objectives must be made clear before the first session of training, must be met and must be reviewed to be of use. If the motivation for the training is a tax shelter, let the boss take training courses and deduct them from his taxes. Let him not use the teachers to such ends.

peace,
revel.
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revel



Joined: 06 Jan 2004
Posts: 532

PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2004 9:20 am    Post subject: On tenure.... Reply with quote

On tenure, then.

Mr *beep* (why on earth can't we use the word d*ck on this message board, replace the * with an "i", it means much more than the vulgar naming of the male sexual organ....urrrgh! Evil or Very Mad) says: "a status granted after a trial period to a teacher that gives protection from summary dismissal".

We all know that it is much more than that. Had I chosen the traditional path in education, I would have been sitting in my tenured office in a nice, quiet, mid-western university years ago. I would have attended faculty meetings, *beep* (grrr! Evil or Very Mad read "c*cktail, "o" replacing the *) parties, might have become head of my department, to later become dean of the college. I'd have a nice two-storey house with a front and back lawn and a paved driveway leading to the garage where my car sleeps every night. Teachers with this type of tenure do indeed have advantages over those who are just starting out. Experience is indeed valued and rewarded. I paint a pretty picture of this tenure and well know that it is a romantic generalization so please don't take me to task for my introductary remarks here. Smile

Job interviews are a headache for employers. One has to sit through dozens of chats with the same boring questions, the same silly lies and truths and in the end is faced with hours of sorting through CVs with photos that don't look at all like the person you were speaking with last week. And finally, from that "yes" pile, you might just choose someone who ought to have been in the "no" pile. I myself am a wretched interviewer and have made grave character judgement mistakes in hiring people and have paid the price once they have been hired. Thus, any employer should be aware of the value of having an employee who is loyal, a good worker and who has intentions of filling the post for a number of years. A good employer will do nothing that will make a long-term employee consider leaving a vacancy that must be filled by a totally unknown person through the heavy and boring process of job interviews.

A good employee must also be aware of the limits to which a tenure can be stretched. Rights and responsibilities ought to be clearly expressed from the outset, not implied and then stepped upon. Potential employees must ask in that job interview what advantages they will have over newer employees once that period of proving one's value to the company has been overcome. An employee of many years of loyalty who finds that he/she is being treated in exactly the same way as the one who has just started will question the value of such loyalty. It is a clear indication of a lack of loyalty of the employer towards the employee. Such demands for loyalty on the part of the employer, without the same loyalty from the employer are simply a cause for discontent in the ranks and will lead that employer to the job interview stage all over again.

Perhaps I am indeed asking for too much based on my loyalty, my efforts to contribute to the quality of the product being sold by the boss. Perhaps I have no right to demand respect despite the taking on of difficult classes because among us I am the only one capable of maintaining discipline and at the same time imparting ESL. Perhaps I should change my attitude, realise that I am only doing this for the money and not for the humanitarian, social reasons that I have always believed to be my real motivation for teaching. It would indeed (how many times have I used the word indeed this morning?) make my current situation more tenable. I should stop doing the extra little things I do, voluntarily, since they are not taken into consideration when real things like contracts and salaries and scheduling are being considered. Shut up, work, collect the pay-check.

And yet, "shut up, work, collect the pay-check" is what I did when I worked in a factory. It is what I did when I worked as a librarian. It is what I did when I worked as a bar-man. If I have lasted so long as a teacher (and did not last long in those other jobs) it is because I have not had to "shut up, work, collect the pay-check" in this work up to this point. If this job is simply to be another job, then I would prefer it to be another job and not teaching, as teaching seems all to important to me to be reduced to how much I am being paid, how many hours I am working, what kind of contract I have signed.

The teacher who is unable to give a communicative class should not resent the fact that I am given such classes. I do not resent the fact that this teacher spends most of the time doing private classes, which I no longer do. That the communicative classes seem to be more fun is simply because I make them that way. That the private classes seem more dull is because of the way in which they are being sold and later executed. Even the crap classes I am given turn into a good time under my tutelage. This does not take away the stress that they cause, but does make them more tolerable. Finally, it is not the assingment of classes themselves that causes the unrest, but rather this strange attitude of "fairness" or "equality" that is used as a filter when assigning classes, totally overlooking talents, capacities, willingness on the part of the individuals.

Finally, what gets our goat (like that expression a lot too!) is that new teachers who walk in off the street are treated exactly equally as those of us who have more than proven our dedication to the business through our performance. These teachers are given the same contract conditions, are offered the same classes as we are, are even invited to the Christmas dinner as if they were totally integrated in the company, though they only work four hours a week, never come to teachers' meetings, are not asked to attend training sessions. There is obviously an inequality there. Perhaps we are not asking for better treatment than they are receiving, but rather that there be more equality in the demands made upon them as are being made upon us.

Have to leave this debate to get ready for work. I have so much more to say, but also want to repeat that what I am saying is not so much to get it off my chest as to illustrate a certain "reality" in this profession. I don't want to discourage and certainly will highlight that I have not found this situation to be true in all academies, each one is a world in itself. Perhaps what I am trying to communicate is that as teachers, we must not disprotect ourselves, we must also be firm, informed and questioning of the authority represented by employers, contracts, legal agreements, rights and responsibilities.

Plus, these long-winded posts are probably a bit boring for some to read, so I'll leave it at this this time around.

peace,
revel.
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woodcutter



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2004 1:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's a topic that needs threading in my book. Is experience valued in this job? If not, why not?
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revel



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PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2004 7:03 am    Post subject: Unions Reply with quote

Hey all!

Hey lolwhites, your suggestion is one of my options. Two years ago we were visited by both CCOO and UGT. The representatives of these unions did not do a very good job at convincing us of the benefits of belonging, and at the time I was not aware of the situation I was in and thus scoffed at their suggestion that I might need their assitance. Fortunately, one of our teachers is a member and has been highlighting certain irregularities to us and, once my soliciter has gone over my contract and explained it to me without the filter of trying to whine her way out of paying me (I am paying her), my next stop will indeed be at the union hall.

I'm afraid the Autonomous thing is out of the question at this time. It does not serve to be awarded a work/residency permit, unless I employ Spanish natives in my business. Its high cost does not compensate for the nearly total lack of benefits or social protections. And I can not do so as an ESL teacher since I am self-educated in the field and only a University Degree gives me the right to call myself an ESL teacher. (Well, maybe a TOEFL certificate would work....) It's a nice suggestion, but I would have to charge my students too much, would have to work even more hours than I am now, and my present work schedule is leaving me wrung out at the end of the day as it is. Naturally, I would not have the stress of an unfair boss to add to the stress of the classes, but there are other stresses, like not having sick-leave, to be taken into account. I do, however, have the possiblity in mind and have not discarded it totally.

I do want to point out that this problem is directly related to the attitude of the boss. Perhaps it is a Spanish way of doing business. lolwhites has shared a similar point of view on the subject. However, when my boss was American, or English, or even Catalan, such a situation simply did not exist. When an injustice was brought to light to the English boss, he complained but finally paid me, knowing that losing me and looking for another to fill my spot was a worse pain in the neck than paying me for those hours he had expected me to do for free. The American boss explained the pay system clearly and thoroughly before we signed the contract, and that system included regular raises based on longevity and quality in the work. The Catalan boss rewarded me with special bonuses and even paid the lawyer to move my legal papers about.

Experience is valued by some of these bosses. As I am quite persuasive in class, I am also pretty persuasive in getting work. I have generally gotten exactly the work I am capable of doing, which is also the work I prefer to do, they go hand in hand. Even in this uncomfortable situation I have discribed, the majority of the work I have been offered and have taken is based on my experience. For me, the question is, is simply having classes enough of a gesture of loyalty on the part of the boss? Or am I simply a piece of his machine that, when it gives problems, can be easily replaced? There are not a lot of spare parts in my part of Spain, at least not quality parts that will last for years. How do I convince him that, despite being a pain on this point, I am actually a real part of his not too well oiled engine? As woodcutter points out, that is possibly the crux of this debate.

peace,
revel.
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lolwhites



Joined: 16 Jul 2003
Posts: 1321
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2004 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Two years ago we were visited by both CCOO and UGT. The representatives of these unions did not do a very good job at convincing us of the benefits of belonging, and at the time I was not aware of the situation I was in and thus scoffed at their suggestion that I might need their assitance. Fortunately, one of our teachers is a member and has been highlighting certain irregularities to us and, once my soliciter has gone over my contract and explained it to me without the filter of trying to whine her way out of paying me (I am paying her), my next stop will indeed be at the union hall.


Just remember these immortal words written by Ralph Chaplin in 1915:

When the Union's inspiration through the worker's blood shall run,
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun.
Yet what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one?
But the Union makes us strong.

Solidarity forever!
Solidarity forever!
Solidarity forever!
For the Union makes us strong.

(Sung to the tune of "John Brown's Body")

Good luck!
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