Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Teaching Jobs Debate (Part 1)

A good bit of the following is based upon my own experiences. I have talked with a lot of teachers in Taiwan and have spent a good bit of time reading/researching teaching in Taiwan on the internet. Much of the following is anecdotal. Please feel free to question my assertions...your comments are welcome and encouraged!

Whenever you run into another foreign teacher here in Taiwan the conversation invariably turns to work. It's natural to sort of compare/contrast your jobs. There are different schools of thought regarding what makes more sense as far as hours, days, and method of pay are concerned. Recently, after speaking with a bunch of teachers from other schools, I have come to the conclusion that my job is a good deal.

The differences in jobs here usually breakdown to salary vs. hourly pay, working on Saturdays, and the administration/director of the respective schools.

I am very satisfied with the set-up of my job. There are a few things I'd like to change, but isn't that true of just about any job?

Sometimes I feel that I spend a bit too much time in the office. My job requires that I am on the site from 3pm to 9pm Mon-Fri. The actual teaching hours fall between 5:00 and 9:00...this means that I spend a minimum of 2 hours every day at my desk. All too often I am not scheduled to teach all four hours, therefore adding to my office time. I do my best to utilize this time. I am either grading papers or preparing for upcoming classes. I'm not complaining. I get paid whether or not I am in front of a class. When it comes down to it, I am being paid a heck of a lot of money for making myself available for a few hours each night...sort of like being on-call. This is the nature of a salaried position. I am paid the same amount of money every month whether I teach 50 or 90 hours. Personally, except for the month that my co-worker took a vacation, I have never taught for more than 85 hours in a month. The past two months, I have taught for a total of about 100 hours and still made a heck of a lot of money. My teaching hours are usually about 70 to 80 hours per month.

Many teachers here work on an hourly basis, they are paid for only the actual time the spend in the classroom. Many teachers that work on an hourly basis feel that office hours are a waste of time. They feel that they could utilize this time more wisely. The hourly workers generally make more per teaching hour than the salaried teachers. The crux of the issue is prep time. If you are only paid for the time in front of the class, you must then do all of you own preparation on your own dime. Some experienced teachers will tell you that prep time is virtually non-existent. This is tough for me to believe. How can you possibly be an effective teacher without putting in a decent amount of planning each day? Teaching is not static, every day brings new challenges.

Oodles of hourly jobs have sporadic hours. I have met more than one teacher that works essentially split-shift hours. Often times having 2 or 3 hours between classes. I have days like this too, but I am being paid for the time between, the hourly workers aren't.

As a salaried employee, I am entitled to quite a few paid days off. I am a full-time employee therefore I am paid for all national holidays and get paid vacation time every year. As most of you know, I recently took a nice long vacation. I went to the US to see my family. Because I am full-time, I managed to take just 3 days of unpaid leave while I was gone. Having a nice paycheck waiting for me when I returned to Taiwan was a welcomed sight. Taiwan just celebrated the Lunar New Year. Everything shuts down here for a week during the celebration. I used the paid holiday time I had racked up to cover the entire week...I got the week off with full pay.

Can a teacher paid by the hour work enough hours to equal what I make in salary? A few I have met do, but most don't. Sure, they have more free time on their hands and can tutor or make money in other ways, but getting consistent supplementary income in this country is easier said than done. I prefer the uniformity of a salary.

Stay tuned for Part 2. I will tackle the Saturday issue and dealing with bosses.

No comments: