As you know if you’ve been following this blog since it’s infancy, I traveled down to Kaohsiung on Wednesday in hopes of finding an English teaching job and settling here. A couple days before that, I’d emailed my resume to several schools with job openings posted online; I’d already heard back from a few of them by the time I hopped on the train Wednesday afternoon, and by the time I went to bed in Kaohsiung that night, I already had interviews set up with three different schools.
So far, though, I’ve only interviewed at one of them. Let me see if I can coherently tell you why:
The first school I was supposed to go to on Thursday is called Fairy Tale school, and the guy who runs it is named Stu. Neither of those – “Fairy Tale” or “Stu” – are names that I readily trust. Well,I don’t know a whole lot of people here yet, but somehow Stu had already called three of them for interviews. It seems he was calling everyone whose resume was not written in crayon. Also, the night before the interview, he sent me an email saying that I needed to wear dress pants and dress shoes, AND that I’d be doing a demo (teaching a class) for about 30 minutes. Ok, A) English teachers here routinely wear shorts, flip-flops, and everything short of a speedo, and PLUS, I just moved here, with a suitcase and a pack – packing my Sunday best was not high on my priority list; and B) I’ve been told that the “bad” schools will spring demos on teaching applicants but not give them any lessons or direction until moments before you enter the class. So you basically show up in front of these petrified Asian kids who wanna know where they’re regular teacher is, and you try to hold their attention for as long as you can by singing, dancing, juggling, and trying to somehow teach them the curriculum you were just handed a minute before by Stu.
So yeah, Fairy Tale wasn’t high on my list. I emailed Stu back Wednesday night and asked if I could postpone the interview till the following week, due to my lack of dress shoes. At the time of this writing (five days later), I have yet to hear back from him.
On Friday, I had an interview scheduled with the Yo Yo American School. Two things slightly concerned me about this school. One, of course, is the name. Yo Yo? Like the toy? Like Sylvester Stallone’s vocabulary? Like a stuttering Mexican? The other thing that concerned me is that no one in Kaohsiung seems to have heard of it. It could just be that it’s a small school with only one location, but still, you’d like to have some idea of what you’re getting into. Everyone looking for an English teaching job is wary of getting hired, signing a contract, and being stuck with a bad school. And there are lots of bad schools around. “Bad school” means they could make you work weekends without pay, they could dump more and more kids on you, they could make you teach overtime without pay, they could mistreat you, they could withhold your paycheck, etc… So yeah, there’s a lot to be concerned about.
So anyway, my interview with Yo Yo was set for Friday. But I had to postpone it, because I had my second interview with a place called Schoolhouse on Friday….
Schoolhouse is not a bad school. It’s not a good school. It’s a great school. It’s the top-rated English school in all of southern Taiwan. I had my first interview with them on Thursday at 5. I met with James, an incredibly nice 30-something Canadian (who has an uncanny resemblance to my friend Earl) who manages 5 Schoolhouse branches. We talked in their teachers lounge for about an hour, and it went really really well. He was using phrases like “You will be starting,” or “will be teaching,” rather than “You would be.” So I viewed that as a positive. We arranged for me to do a 15-minute demo at 2 the following day – since this is a good school, James told me what the lesson would be on (“Why” and “Because”), and he even gave me a little photocopied page from the kids’ workbook on said lesson.
I agonized over my demo for the next 18 hours. I really wanted this job. I talked to ex-pats here. I called the best teacher I know (my sainted mother) and solicited her advice. I looked online for game ideas. Nothing really came together, but I had some basic thoughts. By the time my demo came on Friday afternoon, I was somehow not that nervous. But I also wasn’t too terribly confident. But I would go do my best, and let the chips fall.
I walked into the classroom with the regular teacher, and met the kids one by one. I’m usually terrible at remembering names, but somehow I remembered all of the kids names’ right away. I think that helped impress the bosses. As for my teaching, it wasn’t as impressive. The kids were all adorable but shy toward me, and I think my 15-minute lesson only went 10. I talked to each of them, and tried to keep them all involved, but I felt like I’d tanked it.
But afterward, James said that they were just looking to see how well I interacted with the kids, and how well they responded to me. And he said I was really good at that. He said he had a couple more demos on Monday, but that he’s not really confident in them, and that unless I accept another job before then, he’s almost definitely going to offer me the job on Monday.
Well, today, as I write this, it is Monday, around 1:30 pm. Just in case, I finally have my interview with Yo Yo today in a couple hours. But I expect to hear back from Schoolhouse sometime this evening. Until then, please keep me in your thoughts, think good things, and keep all your fingers and toes and everything else crossed…
Update: I GOT THE JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!