TEFL is a growing industry with a wide variety of jobs on offer and locations in which to do them. The variety of institutions offering language classes is also increasing in terms of quality and the types of classes they have. As a TEFL teacher, it’s important to know the market and what options are available to you. Why waste away unhappily at a school where you have no future if there are better options out there?
This post will explore things to check before you start working at a particular school, signs of when it’s time to move on from your current employer and also reasons why staying at one school longer might be the right choice.
Or, if you want a checklist of whether or not your school is dodgy, you can gain access to the resource by clicking on the link below. This is a handy thing to have when you are considering taking a job, but have reservations.
Before You Start Your Job…
Before you get into a bad situation, which might be difficult to get out of, there are some ways to check on the quality of the school. One thing you should ask either before or after the interview phase is to speak with another teacher who works there. Obviously, the school isn’t going to let you talk to someone who hates working there, but you’ll still get a more realistic picture of what it’s like. You should ask them about:
- The working hours
- What the classes are like
- If they have enough resources
- How easy it is to get time off
- Why they like it there
The interview itself is also a good time to get more information about the job before taking it. Asking questions at this point has the added benefit of making you appear proactive, which is a quality that a good school is usually looking for. Most interviewers will usually end the interview asking if you have any questions, if not, it’s perfectly ok to politely request to ask a few things. I wouldn’t recommend asking questions too early on as the interviewer probably has plenty of questions they’d like to ask you first. I recommend questions about:
- Professional development opportunities
- Ways to progress within the company
- Teaching methodology that the school employs
- Types of classes they offer
- Visa assistance and insurance
Though it’s okay to ask questions about holidays and pay, I usually recommend these as questions to ask via email after receiving a job offer. If you ask the questions during the interview it can sometimes leave a bad impression; like you only care about the money and the holidays.
Another way to get an idea of how well a school is run, is simply to check out a classroom. If there’s writing all over the walls, broken and run down equipment, no pictures on the walls, etc. then it shows the school’s commitment to being professional. Also, ask to see the teacher’s room. If there isn’t one, or there’s nothing there that you could use in class, that says a lot.
Is It Time to Move On?
Even if you like the school where you work, there comes a time when it is best for your professional development to move on. If you are doing the same classes over and over again, eventually you will get bored and your teaching skills will start to get dull. Teaching at a new institution leads to the possibility of a raise, new types of classes and potentially a promotion. If you’ve gained experience working at one institution, you are likely much more attractive to potential employers than when you first started.
Some things that you should consider when you are thinking about moving on are whether or not there are any opportunities for growth in your current school and whether you are continuing to develop as a teacher. Professional development can come in the form of good management who gives regular workshops and also good feedback on your teaching. It may also simply come in the form of continual challenges with new types of classes thus giving you more experience. If you don’t feel challenged, or like you’re developing, it might be time to consider other options.
Is there a possibility for promotion within the company? I don’t simply mean in terms of payment, but that’s also important. If you’ve been teaching for a number of years, it might be good to consider a head teacher position or something with a little more responsibility. If it is simply a dead end job, and you’re ready for more, it might be time to try a new school with more opportunities.
Why Staying is Sometimes the Right Decision
There are always parts of any job that one can find fault with. Likewise, no school is perfect. Just because you’re having a bad day, or even a bad week, doesn’t necessarily mean that quitting your job is the right decision. There are benefits to staying with a particular school longer than the length of your initial contract.
One reason is that you already know the management team. Even if you have your issues with the way the school is run, you already have a relationship. This means that if you have an issue, they’ll likely listen to you. This means if you ask for a favor (extra time off, etc.) you are more likely to have them make an exception for you. This means when it comes time for a promotion, you’ll have a better chance. Also, most schools give raises based on how long a teacher has been there; you should make more money year to year.
Another reason is that you already know your students. If you change jobs too often, you won’t see the effectiveness of your teaching. If you know a class, it’s a lot easier to try new teaching approaches and activities– to experiment. Sometimes the needed change is simply your attitude and method within the classroom. That is, however, not always the case.
If you’d like my checklist of whether or not you are working for a dodgy school, you can gain access to it by clicking on the link below. I hope if helps you make a decision.
Dodgy School Checklist