Hurdles High & Low

Two weeks working as a teacher, and I’ve survived.

No  border probe for moral turpitude. No arrest for impersonating someone respectable.   No escape from town ahead of an angry mob of pursuing scooters. No Naked Lunch moment when all realise that I’m merely posing as a teacher. And that it’s a kind of confidence trick – as long as they ( school, students ) keep believing it, I’ll keep playing the role.

But it now dawns on me that the bar is a little higher than mere survival, and lack of incarceration. Those are the low hurdles. The goal ( to reach break-even point and better from this whole caper ) will come after clearing these hurdles;

Most importantly, I have to tiptoe through the notorious Thai Visa process. First, you need Thai police clearance. Then you need a non-B Visa. In between all of that, you need to go to a nearby country and apply from there. It’s fiendishly complex, a bureaucrat’s wet dream. Except it’s the cops and army whose whim the process seems to follow. There are entire Facebook groups devoted to working with and around this Visa issue. I was advised by someone in a position to know not to go to Thailand because of this complication.

I’m off to Bangkok Monday to get Thai police clearance. If that’s successful, there’s another trip – this time across the border – in the works to get a ‘Non-B’ working Visa. Then I’ll need a work permit. Whew.

The second hurdle is a 3-month probation period in my contract. This, apparently, is also standard, and means I’m effectively at the mercy of a student vote after three months. I assume they poll my students, and if I don’t score 80% or higher, I could be out. Nasty. I don’t yet know all the details;

  • Is it a yes / no vote, or do students grade teachers?
  • How often do teachers ‘fail’?
  • Worst case scenario and the school decides to ‘let me go’, how much notice do I get?

but I’ll find out as the end of 3 months nears.

The first two weeks have been exhausting, not least because I’ve gone from mostly unemployed to full-time. One saving grace is that week ONE involved only three teaching days, and week TWO only 4 teaching days ( holiday Monday ). Week THREE will also be only 4 teaching days. But the day off won’t be very restful, because it’s a return trip to Bangkok ( 150 km ), and I have to prepare lesson plans for that day’s five classes for the Thai teacher.

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