Earlier this week I put in a week’s notice of resignation from my English language training center in Rizhao, Shandong, China. Before I’m labeled as a no-good, rotten quitter, let me explain…
Why I quit
I get along very well with the staff, teachers and my superiors. The school pays on time, provided a stellar apartment, and takes great care of me. Unfortunately, I’m just not happy teaching at this school.
When I originally signed up for this position, I thought I was going to teach a mix of adults and kids, but that’s not the case. 90% of my students are between the ages of 5 and 10. Half of my students are under age 7.
I really enjoy teaching English, but I’m a terrible babysitter. A good kindergarten and 1st grade teacher is stern, and I’m not. The din of screaming kids combined with the watchful eye of cross-armed moms with high expectations is too much for me. Some can handle it, but I can’t.
Teaching at a language training center in Asia is much different from teaching at a public school. At the end of the day a language center is a business, and the primary goal of business is to make money, which I understand. The problem is, I don’t feel so much like a teacher here as I do a device for selling the product of a company.
The stress of teaching at a language center is much higher than at a public school. Parents sign their children up, pay an upfront lump sum, and expectations are high for their kids to learn and apply English. It’s my job to make that happen regardless of some external factors that can make teaching incredibly difficult.
Some students have no desire to learn English. I totally understand this. I hated learning Spanish when I was a kid. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Unfortunately, when the horse’s mother gets upset because you can’t make it drink, then there’s a problem.
The next step
I’ve weighed my options.
I could pull the notorious “midnight run” and simply vanish overnight and start a new life with a new job in another province in China. I mean, many foreigners have done this in the past when they weren’t happy with their job in Asia.
I’m no saint, but ethically, I couldn’t do that to a company that has treated me as well as my current employer. Besides, even if I simply decided to say ‘fuck it’ and catch a midnight train out of here to the next city and job, my employers and superiors read my blog. Needless to say, it would be awkward.
For the last couple weeks, I’ve been frantically applying and searching for a new job. Now the search is over. I’m beginning my new job very soon, which I believe is a better fit for me.
My new job will be in the same city, Rizhao. It’s not too far from my current school. That way I can still use my year-long gym membership (paid upfront) and bicycle. Plus, the move will be easier than packing everything on a train and starting over in a whole new province.
I’m not very familiar with the complicated paperwork and processing associated with switching employers in China, so I’m apprehensive about sharing details about my new job just yet. If my legal status as a foreign worker in China is in jeopardy as a result of my leaving this company, then I may face some problems.
But If all goes according to plan, I’ll simply transition the working visa to a my new employer and begin work at my new school next week.
I’ll post more about my new job as soon as I’m certain about my legal status. Until then, hang on for the next update.