It’s that time of the year again; for many of us educators, tutors, teachers and mentors; the end is nigh.
The end that I’m talking about is the end of the Chinese school year, which like the American school year ends in June rather than November (Aussie Aussie Aussie)
So now that it’s April, some among us (including me) have begun casual conversations about contract re-negotiation that will happen around May/June.
Some of us have beautiful contracts that include weeks of no work through the summer (but still getting paid) beautiful high paychecks every month; sick pay, vacation pay, all the pay’s.
My pay isn’t like that, mine is a little on the cheaper side, includes no paid off-days in the year and no vacation time.
This is a bit of an unusual deal for foreign teachers these days, as English becomes more in demand, competition for good teachers increases, companies and individuals get richer so pay for teachers goes up. This describes the golden world of English teaching.
However I’m not here as an English teacher, I’m here teaching drama.
And drama isn’t nearly as golden and shiny in the view of many, and for good reason.
Last semester I taught weekend drama classes every week, my pay was fantastic and I had a ball doing it. Unfortunately (like I’ve mentioned in previous posts) students here study 7 days a week, and courses (such as English, Math, Science, Chinese) are all fighting for their attention.
On top of that, students are all fiercely competing for spots at good schools, the enormous child population outweighs the spots there are in reputable schools.
Someone currently in kindergarten moves to primary, someone else moves from primary to middle school etc, they must fight for a good school. Because of this, schools have exams that students must take in order to prove themselves for entry, the more prestigious the school, the more intense the exam.
My subject (yay drama!) Is not part of anyone’s exam, therefore my class took up 90 minutes each Sunday that could have been otherwise spent studying a subject that would have given the student an edge on these exams and pushed them ahead.
What I’m teaching is a little bit of a glamour subject, fashionable and trendy, but not necessary.
My big advantage over local drama teachers is that I speak English natively, so schools can at least justify my training to concerned parents that just allowing their students to speak with me will give them invaluable education, especially if their school offers only Chinese English teachers (there are many).
So knowing all this I too am going into contract re-negotiation soon, but as my utility diminishes over time, I (like all of us) am going to ask for more.
I’m going to ask for more money and more benefits, and I’m absolutely losing sleep over it.
I know for a fact that the company is hoping I sign the same contract again, but after a meeting yesterday they now know I have no intention of doing that. The key will be lining up a good backup plan if all my hopes go down the swamp and I become unemployed.
I know this is a bit extreme for some people, and they would definitely advise my backing down if the company doesn’t accept my terms.
But I’ve never been very rational, and what I want is what I want. If I get what I want, I’ll spend all of next year far more positive. When bad things happen I’ll be thinking “Meh! Dollar dollar billzzzzzz” but if I don’t I’ll fall to pieces everytime things go wrong and I’ll shout “I don’t make enough to deal with this!”
So perhaps I’ll return to cruise ships? Or maybe street begging? At least I’m Australian and the streets back home are warm.
Exotic dancing? … perhaps?