Re­spect works both ways

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWOCENTS - By Daniel Otero

Quite often I’ve felt like “the ham in the sand­wich,” caught in the mid­dle of two war­ring fac­tions that can’t seem to get it to­gether.

At first, there’s the pe­riod of “ro­mance” when a new teacher comes to a school and ev­ery­thing is won­der­ful.

Dur­ing those first weeks, a for­eign teacher in China is still try­ing to find his or her bear­ing and can feel lost when things are done dif­fer­ently from in their home coun­tries.

Here I’d tell the for­eigner, “Take a deep breath, prac­tice pa­tience and be diplo­matic.”

Then comes the ad­min­is­tra­tor who dumps all the work on the for­eigner, for­get­ting to be thank­ful and un­der­stand that this person is a hu­man be­ing.

Many of the lead­ers of these schools are often mo­ti­vated by the op­por­tu­nity for a quick buck. But at what ex­pense? When it comes to the ed­u­ca­tion of chil­dren, one should not be over promis­ing a mar­ket­ing de­part­ment or par­ent about how quickly the young­ster will learn English.

The re­al­ity is that a lan­guage takes two years to learn and a life­time to per­fect.

A school in des­per­a­tion will throw all the work on the teach­ers. Then the teach­ers start to leave be­cause they feel over­worked and “abused,” and things will get ugly.

Des­per­a­tion will make a school hire just about any­body who’s an English speaker, not even check­ing whether he or she is a pro­fes­sional or a dirt bag!

I be­lieve that 90 per­cent of the for­eign­ers who come to China to teach work rather well. The prob­lem is the other 10 per­cent who do it only for the money and are at the pub ev­ery other day of the week.

There comes a point when this “re­volv­ing door” of teach­ers com­ing and go­ing has to stop. Bet­ter hir­ing prac­tices have to be put in place, and re­ten­tion prac­tices have to be en­forced.

I’ve seen English schools go un­der in less than five years. Part of it is due to their hir­ing prac­tices and how they han­dle for­eign­ers. Also, there isn’t a good sys­tem in place for back­ground checks. A re­la­tion­ship is not only built at the be­gin­ning of the hir­ing process but through­out the en­tire con­tract. I’ve also seen schools with ex­cel­lent lead­er­ship where teach­ers are re­tained for sev­eral years. Then, out of the blue, the lead­ers change, and from there, the school goes down­hill. I’ve seen it hap­pen twice, and it needs to change. If a teacher is a good pro­fes­sional and their English is ex­cel­lent, I re­ally don’t care where they come from. What mat­ters is their qual­ity in­side and out­side the class­room. With that said, ad­min­is­tra­tors should treat their em­ploy­ees bet­ter, and when an em­ployee does a good job, they should re­ward them with com­pli­ments, thank-yous and pro­mo­tions. Teach­ers do not do it only for the money. They have some in­tegrity and are de­voted to their stu­dents. Mu­tual co­op­er­a­tion and re­spect should be given by both sides so that we can all get along in peace!

Il­lus­tra­tions: Luo Xuan/GT

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