What Can You Do If Your School Treats You Badly?

haunted-house-11.jpgKeep in mind that working and even just traveling abroad presents a full set of difficulties. You often do have to compromise, and the fact that not everything goes exactly according to plan does not mean you should simply stop turning up to work. If you get involved with a real “nightmare” school…you will know it. What can you do?

  • I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to do your own research before you go; while using a placement organization may seem – and may often in fact be – safer, if you’re pressed to look into things yourself you are more likely to be prepared with the info you need if your school turns out bad. Are other jobs in the area plentiful? What do they pay? Can you just start working for another school with the same work permit (generally: NO). How do you go about finding your own accommodation if you need to? Check out the TEFL Logue’s Questions To Ask At An Interview and why not read up on my Thoughts On A Job Post.
  • Once you are there, make an effort to get to know people outside of your work circle and not connected to your school.

    If you then start to feel your school is treating you badly, it will be about 100 times easier to turn to these folks than your co-workers or school staff who, even if they agree with you, may feel obligated to the school. Someone who speaks the local language can in five minutes give you insight and information you can’t get elsewhere.
  • Keep in mind that your school likely has its own financial interest at heart, and let this inform both your predictions about what they will do next and you own course of action. A bad school director may well use low tactics – like isoloating you from other teachers – in order to facilitate getting you to do what benefits the school – but generally the motive is to make more money, not to make your life unpleasant (though that may be one negative side effect).
  • Should you put up with it? School’s requests might be unfair and unpleasant – but whether you suck it up and do it or make a stink and quit depends on you. In countries overflowing with EFL teachers, you can probably be replaced quickly, and your complaint won’t carry much weight. If you have more qualifications and experience, you probably also have more bargaining power. Telling your employer off and leaving (if you’re prepared for the consequence that you might not get paid) if the school is truly bad may make the director hesitant to do the same thing to the next teacher – ultimately though, plenty of schools know that foreigners are not in a great position and so routinely take advantage of them. Once more it comes down to you.