I like to start with the good things about working with small children in a foreign country; so check the previous post to know everything good.
Not everyday was fun and games, actually some days were down right challenging. I did not bite off more than I could chew, but more than I could chew easily and comfortably.
Buxiban – after school class from 4:30-6.
Days with the buxiban were down right terrible. I was pretty cranky by the time my students came along, after a full day with my younger class. It’s like doing double duty, although the money was good, it’s not good enough for the added stress. In buxiban, the levels vary wildly and my class was a clear example of this. There were some who knew it all and could have taught the class themselves, and other who were as smart as my kindergarten. We were a small bunch, started off as 8 and dwindled to 6, but those kids were still a handful and a half. My class was an unfortunate bunch of outcasts, students who weren’t at the level of the higher classes and who’s parents couldn’t watch them after school. I actually felt pretty bad for them, because they want to have fun but they have to come to English class instead of a more exciting activity. I did try my best to incorporate fun activities into the class, but it was a constant struggle as we they had expectations to meet and a few of them were not meeting them. In addition to 2 students who’s energy was unparalleled, after school class became a constant headache and something I dreaded. The buxiban class was a bad idea at least in the first year, maybe if I was more experienced I wouldn’t mind.
Also bad, the admin work: who knew little kids needed so much admin. Maybe I just didn’t know all the ins and outs of teaching. Okay most definitely I didn’t know, but there was a lot to do. Admin included keeping track of every thing to have it all documented to protect ourselves and the school.We had daily agendas for every student, which makes sense I use to have them myself as a student, but it was never as detailed. It is the primary way to communicate with the parents so we had to make daily notes: best days when we had typed notes, worst days when I had to handwrite something unique for every student. Every little thing needed to be written down in these books, which is where my grievance arose. Things like mosquito bites, slips or falls, WHEN THEY TAKE A POO, good behaviour, bad behaviour, what they learned about in the assembly, what they did on the weekend, and anything else you can think of. In addition to writing notes for the parents, you gotta keep track and note of things for yourself. Who takes the school bus; who has after school activities and what day; who’s taking holidays; who needs medicine; who’s mom is out-of-town so the kid is staying at their cousins; who can’t participate in exercise activities. Also have the parents responded to any admin notes placed in their agenda, what was their response? Have the parents sent their child to school with all the necessary items, if not what does the kid need? You are required to stay informed about each and every student and I had 2 classes, in addition to staying on top of school happenings, and teaching.
Admin also included task that were not as tedious but just as annoying. Such as 2 phone calls a semester with the parents. In general I don’t like talking on the phone, but it’s even worse when you have a deadline, 18 phone calls to make, people who don’t answer the phone and a language barrier. Those phone calls were the worse, I would rather an in-person scheduled appointment at the school. Admin included photos: monthly photos, internet photos and each student needed to have 5. It sounds easy, but when you’re juggling and corralling the small people and keeping them safe/entertained all day, taking their photo often slips your mind. If you wanna know what your kid does at school, just ask them. Admin included their work portfolios, each and every worksheet they do all year. The portfolios annoyed me, because it wasn’t like a 3 ringed binder where any one can put the work in themselves; it was a special folder where the sheets went into a plastic cover which the students didn’t quite know how to do, i.e. I had to do it. Admin involved presenting assemblies in English to 200 something Chinese speaking children, who barely listen when you’re speaking their language. Admin included writing a daily journal for your supervisors about what happened that day, going back to documenting everything. Admin included teaching demos for the staff however not all the teachers had to demonstrate, which is uncool. Administrative stuff made up half of the work, without being given the time necessary to do. So having a second class and copious, copious amounts of admin work… Was the bad part, about my job. But wait, there’s more.
*Again, please check out the good parts of working at a kindergarten, the post previous to this. If you are considering this as a potential job I don’t want you to be swayed by my comments in this post alone, as it is my opinion and my experiences.*