I applied to work at a kindergarten called Merry Angels, near Taipei 101. When I went for the interview she told me that I had to go back for a trial day. Even though I done a demo, they told me they require all there teachers to do a trial day. She also told me the reason I could do the trial day on Monday was because there foreign teacher was not there.
We scheduled the trial day for Monday. This was fine, but even before this I had to go and see the school director. The day after my interview on Friday. I went back to see the director and she blabbered on about stuff, and said that I would be doing my trial with the class I did the demo with. This was fine for me as they were a bit older and you could speak to them pretty well, much more than the starter kids, and I didn't have to act like a performing monkey to some extent with this kids.
So it was all agreed, I would go on Monday do the trial day and they would be paying me 500NT dollars (£10) for this per hour. I had to work for 1.5 hours, and I had to make a teaching plan for 30 minutes phonics, and 30 minutes songs and chants. She also told me that it normally takes 3 days of a trial to decide if she wants to hire you, but because I have been working here for 1 year she should be able to tell in 1 day and not 3.
When I got there though, she told me that she wanted me to work with the younger class. This started to set my alarm bells ringing straight away. I was thinking after she told me about their other foreign teacher being missing, that they just wanted me to work with which ever class they had a teacher missing from and I was thinking what happens if they keep asking me to go back for a trial.
I managed to make what I thought was a very good plan after the football on Sunday night. My phonics plan was solid, totally solid for the age, and level I was dealing with. It also helps I have lots of co operative Taiwanese co teachers in my job who are willing to give me ideas about how to teach phonics.
My songs and chants was not as solid, I didn't know what they already knew and what they didn't know. I had the CDs that I had made while I worked at Happy Marian, so I tested them out and they worked fine. I picked some songs and chants to do that I had used in the past and then planned how to teach them.
I was going to sing leaves are falling from the trees......and the chant I chose was Nobody likes me. All was set, I packed up everything I needed then I headed to bed.
The next morning I woke up with enough time to get there with a bit of time to spare. The kids were doing there morning exercise with some English guy from London. The morning exercise didn't look as bad as the one in Happy Marian because he was playing a CD for the kids to dance and sing a long too, instead of having to make it all up him self.
Then this is when the whole plan changed. The director of the school told me that I would not be working with the age group I demoed with and instead she wanted me to work with a younger age group, much younger! I then had to try and quickly adjust my plan in my head, and the co teacher looked like a stubborn you know what! Just like the last one. The director also told me that instead of working for 1.5 hours she only wanted me to work for 1 hour as she had to go somewhere. This suited me just fine because she changed the age group I was working with and I didn't really have a great deal of time to adjust my plan.
Anyway things got off to a good start, as I set about teaching them the long A vowel. The kids seemed to really like me, but that has never been a problem for me in every interview I have went to here since I arrived, the problem was always the professional side which I am much better at now.
I set out the words in a grid, and had the letters that make the long vowel sound above, then underneath I wrote the words like cake, bake, sail, day, say, etc etc. I messed around with the kids asking them if they have a tail, and we pretended to bake cakes. I was getting them to say, watch out for your tail as you bake a cake! Seemed like a good way to make them learn. Then at the end when the cake was finished we ate eat, and it was a good day! Roll out the long A's and yes the cake was imaginary!
Then I thought they would manage to play a hitting game, so I had my mosquito hands at the ready. Then I wrote out some of the long A words onto the white board and drew big circles around them. Then I chose kids who were sat nicely, I said a word and they had to hit the correct word that I was saying. Some of them could manage this and some of them could not.
After this I done a drawing activity, where the kids had to match the word, with the sounding letters that made it into a long A sound. With this activity only about 2 kids from 8 managed to do it. So I didn't try this for very long, and anyway all the kids were getting bored and annoyed it seemed because they could not do it. So I did a quick review of the long A words that they learnt then got my stuff ready for songs and chants.
This is where a mini disaster happened, my CD's would not bloody work. I didn't write the words down to the songs either, so I just ended up doing the ones I knew. I sang The Grand Old Duke of York, 5 Little Ducks, and 5 Little Monkeys. When I was singing 5 little Monkeys jumping on the bed, some little fell over and bashed her head right of the cupboard! That was not good and I was glad the school director did not see that. The kid was all right thank god, like most of the time they always are.
Then I finished off with some chants. Mainly just Nobody likes me. The words of it go like this:
Nobody likes me,
everybody hates me,
so I'll eat a worm.
When its in your stomach,
It will squirm.
Eat some candy instead.
Once I thought they managed this as best they could in 5-7 minutes I decided to get out my piece of rope I took with me. The plan was to get them to wriggle along the floor like worms one at a time as the rest of the class said the chant. This would make them remember it a long with the actions we learnt from it.
Then once I was finished my trial it was off to see the school director and take a look at the contract. She then told me that she would not pay me today. Said that she would only pay me on the last day of the demo, I told her I would rather get my money now, I am glad she agreed otherwise I would of ended up telling I want it now. Anyway she never mentioned not getting paid on a daily basis.
Then when I looked at the contract what a nightmare job. The contract was terrible, if I ever got sick I was not allowed to stay off for more than 3 days, if I was sick and off for 3 days I would have to find a replacement teacher otherwise they would fine me 300 NT(£6 per day!) If the school let me have any time off, and I did not find a replacement teacher, even if they agreed to letting me have the time off they would fine me 300NT dollars per day!
If I wanted to end the contract early and they would not allow they would fine me 10,000 NT dollars (£200.) This would come out of my wages, which they would pay into the bank so I would have no control over if they actually paid me it or not. If I did not renew my contract, they would have the right to cancel my contract whenever they liked in the last 2 weeks to find a new teacher without any notice, and without any pay outs due to loss of pay.
They wanted me to turn up to there staff meetings every week, which were unpaid. It made me laugh because in the contract it said the staff meetings are 1 day a week, on either, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. So I thought it is when you can be arsed to arrange them then. They wanted me to fill out all the progress reports in 30 minutes of a break time, and hand them in to the director before Friday. They wanted me to attend all the special events they would arrange, but they didn't mention if that was paid or not. They also wanted me to turn up early, and deal with the parents in the mornings, and deal with the parents when the kids were going home.
They wanted me to make up all the songs, scripts, and plays for the special events too. I mean come on, why can you not just get story books and follow the plot. It is not really that difficult. To ask someone who is only working 1.5 hours a day to make all the scripts and plots, and find all the stories for your special events is not really very reasonable in my eyes.
Now don't get me wrong a lot of jobs here in Taiwan have these kind of contracts and it is obviously due to previous foreigners who have been working here doing what the hell they want. It does however mean you need to be very cautious with which job you will take, because from my own previous experience here if you make the wrong decision you will just end up losing money! I have already had my fingers burnt once here and I wont be getting them burnt again. As the saying goes, trick me once fool you, trick me twice fool me!
It would of been a decent job if:
A) they didn't have all that extra crap that I would have to do. I mean if I am only working 1.5 hours per week and then in my own time have to work like 5 or 6 hours its not really worth it is it. If it was just a normal part time gig, of turn up with my teaching plan, teach for 1.5 hours and go home without all the extra crap that could of worked.
B) if they actually paid me more money per hour, to compensate for all the extra crap I had to do in my own time. Like for example if I only worked 1.5 hours there and made 750NT dollars (£15) per day. Then had to do all that extra crap I would not have any time to do anything else, all my time would be taken up working for £15 a day. If you work it out by the actual real hours I would be working to the hours I would actually be paid the job is shit. Like I said though if they paid 200-300 NT dollars more than it could of been considered but at the rate they offered I didn't even think twice about telling them no way!