New Kid on the Block

Monday morning and a pale new face belonging to a South African appears in the teachers’ room.

Chances are fair to middling that this isn’t good news for Yours Truly. That because the young and stick-thin chap is apparently a full-timer.

‘Apparently’ because he’s taken up a teachers’ room berth among the full-timers, who get their own dedicated work-stations. The lower ranks, such as myself, have to scramble for whatever berths are vacant.

To get full-time status, it’s almost certain that his contract runs into the new school term, beginning in early August. That makes him the fourth full-timer.

That’s the same complement as when I started. They covered most, but not all, English classes, but one of them didn’t return after January. Which all means that the Old Kid ( me ) might be for the ( chopping ) block.

You would think I could just ask directly about the arrangements for next term, but it’s not so simple.

Office politics mean other teachers’ employment details are a no-go zone. I learned this in Thailand after I was persuaded into revealing my wage to another English-speaking teacher, a native Italian. Turned out that I – as a native English speaker – was earning around 10% more than him, which didn’t go down well.

Also, teaching schedules are handed down from On High ( HR and principal ) , so it’s unlikely that anyone in the teachers’ room knows next term’s schedule.

I asked HR about work ongoing after the month-long July break, but they deflected with a promise to inform me as soon as there was news.

So, it’s time to brush up the CV, and start firing it out, just in case.

Meantime, I’ve almost recovered from the computer melt-down of a month ago, and more on that in another post. So time to brush off the cobwebs and start putting in some online teaching hours as insurance.

COVID-19 and … me

The Covid-19 virus continues to throw spanners in the works of my attempts to earn a crust here.

Far be it from me to take it personally, but I understand I am the only one of my school’s foreign teachers whose students are still unwelcome at school due to virus fears.

The earliest possible restart date for me is now March 16.

Meantime, I’m doing what I can to pay my way by teaching online. It’s not easy, because the mainly Japanese students have jobs, of all things, which mean that the peak teaching hours are awful ( 4 a.m. – 6 a.m. and 6.00 pm – 9.30 pm ).

As it stands, if school is again delayed on March 15 or earlier, I will more than likely be forced to leave Vietnam.

McJob Over

The job doors are revolving quickly at the moment.

One door, the McJob, has closed. Get this – the head teacher told me they needed a more ‘fun’ atmosphere at the school.

Perhaps it might be an idea to put something – anything – up on the bare concrete walls of the classrooms cells? Posters? Alphabets? World maps?

Another idea might be to fix the equipment; The rooms contain only piece of equipment – apart from whiteboard – a monitor, which in at least one room is broken. The air-conditioners in the rooms either didn’t work, or were turned off. With the result that many of the kids were dozing off by the end of the 40-minute lesson.

I could go on, but it no doubt already sounds like Sour Grapes. Let’s just say I’m not upset at being told that I would no longer be required.

Opportunities and Knocks

Meanwhile, another few opportunities are there. A university teacher I met via Facebook who needs IETLS tuition. And a full-time job opening at a Nha Trang school whose door I’m knocking on.

Plus I’ve been peddling madly exploring the huge market for online teaching. I’ve had a few knock-backs, but also a couple of green lights. If I can make that work, it’d be ideal long-term.

That caper is, for me, in its early days.

McJob

It’s work, Jim, but not as we know it.

I got a job at a Language Centre here in Nha Trang. It’s a McJob because;

  • Right now, it’s a zero-hour job. I’m basically on call. So far I’ve done 4 sessions on Sunday. I went for the interview on Saturday.
  • The working conditions aren’t great. The classrooms put me in mind of cells. Concrete walls and tiny. The equipment ( e.g. overhead monitors ) doesn’t always work.
  • The centre is chaotic, managed on the fly. The manager / head teacher couldn’t tell in advance which room I’d be in for one of the four sessions.
  • The pay is low by industry standards. About NZD $10.40 per 45-minute session.

But, it’s a start, and will go toward making the rent without having to further deplete savings.

The kids are a delight. Keen to learn, and sometimes with pretty good English. Ages 6 to about 12. So no horrible adolescents.

It’s all grist for the mill, teaching experience.

That all might change quickly, and I may get no further teaching hours.

I find that out tomorrow. I think.