Monday, November 10, 2008

What I´ve been doing....workwise

Well, I know that I haven´t really blogged over the past week.

Last week was a big blur for me. I think having to work everyday at 9am put me out of sorts for a while. I´m used to having one or two mornings free to do whatever I want and I would only work in the late afternoon or evening. Last week, I started working at new company and was a little apprehensive. I replaced a teacher when she was on holiday and it turned out that the company wanted me to teach them instead, since I place more emphasis on speaking.

I was worried that the company had a skewed expectation about English class and set off to clarify goals and expectations on the first class. At their level, I still had to do grammar with them and follow the book, while tailoring it to suit their needs. A lot of times, I feel like I´m balancing on a tight rope, esp. when the company seems to be asking for smth that I can´t deliver. Our company produces books and cds which are used in classes to facilitate learning. Somehow, sometimes, customers get the impression that they would receive a fully-customized course and are somewhat disappointed when we use a "generic" book to teach them English.

A lot of the "customization" would then have to come from the customers to tell us what they want and even to provide information on their own accord. Eg. If they want to do telephoning, the materials we have in the school are very generic....falling under the "hello, how may I help you" type of category. Hence for a telephoning course to be customized, the students would then have to adapt the generic telephone conversation to include specific topics that they talk on the phone in their job.

Anyways, my point was I didn´t want to replace another teacher and realize that the customer is still not getting what he or she wants. It turned out way better than I thought though. The people liked me and were really happy with the structure and outline I gave them. I managed to have my first grammar and conversation class with them with no problems at all. For that, I´m really thankful. :)

I do hope though that at some point in time, the school would compensate teachers who actually spend time preparing for their classes. Its an oxymoron if you ask me.

You´re not paid to prepare your teaching -> teachers teach without preparation, but just "anyhow whack" (in Singlish), in proper English, teachers teach on-the-spot with no prior preparation -> client is dissatisfied -> client wants another teacher. "Bad"teacher is not "penalised" but continues to teach in school and still gets his or her 20hrs a week.

"Good" teacher takes over company, spends time preparing classes -> client is satisfied, client renews contract -> school earns commission (only the marketing people do) and teacher is not compensated for being a good teacher, cos either way he or she continues to teach 20 hrs a week. I mean, where´s the work-> reward connection here? hello?

I know I´ll get my reward in heaven and God sees my effort, its the intrinsic reward not the extrinsic reward that counts...but boy! Don´t they get it? The teachers are the asset! If a company renews a contract (which could be thousands of Euros), the teacher should be the ones who get the commission not the marketing people (who were only responsible for getting the clients in the first place, but didn´t do anything else after that.) The teachers are the ones who slog to prepare and moderate classes, ensuring that the clients are contented.....

At times I this, I need to keep reminding myself that I´m not just working for the school but also for my heavenly father. "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Colossians 3:23 Really need to let the truth of this matter sink into my heart and not just my brains.

5 comments:

Global Entreprenuer said...

It is wise to gather all the company contacts and probably after two years, you may want to venture alone. Since by then, these companies would know your assets and values, they would turn to you rather than the School.
Another course of action, would be to team up with a partner, registered as a Company, and set up a new Insitution.
Once, you have the responsiblilty to run the Institution, you could reward teachers who have performed well.
In the meantime, gather all the know-how of School administration, contacts etc.
Just my 2 cents worth.
Cheers

Priscilla Tews said...

Well, I guess that´s what I´m doing anyways. Its good to have a company to rely on, colleagues and a structure to follow. Will have to see about a school thing. I could definitely imagine myself doing freelance teaching, which I AM doing actually - about 3 hrs a week, but earning much more money. At least the school offers me a contract, which is good. :)

cyn said...

Pris

Your reward as a teacher comes when you see your students making improvements. Yes, monetary-wise it cannot be measured but the satisfaction you'll get when you see your students making improvement cannot be measured in tangible terms too, well except based on how well they score in their exams.

Does your company do an appraisal of their teachers? Well, schs here do an appraisal and bonus is paid out according to our ranking based our appraisal report. Even the company I'm working for now has an appraisal system in place, so did the intl sch I was teaching in.

As for customisation, the customer needs to spell out specifically what they want from the teacher and not give a generic area for the teacher to work on. Remember, textbooks are only guides. You, as a teacher, must customise your teaching according to your students' abilities and requirements. How much they learn and in what timeframe depends on you. Yes, I know it's tough, that's why not everyone can teach and this is such a noble profession. Kudos to all teachers. Perhaps the marketing person or the person who took on this client has to ask specific qns pertaining to the customer's requirements, then only will the teacher know what to deliver. There's no such thing as a 'bad' teacher, only a 'lazy, uncaring' one.

Priscilla Tews said...

Hey Cyn! We do actually have feedback forms - which I have no idea why actually. There's no bonus or anything, just to check if the clients enjoyed it or not.... I do try to customise what I teach to what they want, but its not the easiest to pacify everybody either. Its always striking a balance of preparing my work-but-not spending overly-too-much-time problem. So far, it really depends on how demanding the customers are. Some of them (I think), don´t even really know what they want...such that even if I do smth that might be interesting for them, they wouldn´t end up realizing that "hey! This is good for my job!"...Anyways, I´m learning to take it in my stride, but like remembering the positive feedback and ignoring the not-so-good ones, esp. when I couldn´t have done anything else than what I did. I could teach the same thing in class and some ppl are satisfied and some aren´t...so aiyah, its just people at the end of the day.

cyn said...

People...our clients/customers...I know that different people have different expectations and it's not fair to say just because they didn't know what they wanted to learn in the first place or you didn't teach them what they wanted means you are a bad teacher. 'Bad' or 'good' is very subjective and I know it can be difficult to customise teaching of language cos it's so vast. They cannot expect to master what took us years to learn. We, for sure, are not masters of the English language too.

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