Adventures in Teacher Training, and the birth pangs of Junior management

After the whole Kenneth debacle, I was wrongly convinced that whomever I got in to work at my center would have to better than the bullet we dodged with Kenneth.

I got my promotion to senior teacher (hurray…) and was assigned the duty of training the new teachers. Like I mentioned in the previous post, my education center is the land of forgotten toys; in that we get the dregs of the EFL world. Despite this, I was looking forward to utilizing my new found duties. And I was convinced I would do a good job of it.

And then of course, there was reality. Extremely disappointing reality.

Its hard to say anything too concrete things about my employees without outing myself and potentially finding myself in a world of shit. So I will go through each one just nominating a couple of the highlight.

Let’s call the first one A. Just like with Kenneth, the first piece of information we got about A was her name. There was an immediate suspicion, as A had one of those names that only grandmother’s should have, so we did the responsible thing and googled her to see who the fuck she was. The person turned out to have been in college before I was born. She was in fact, just about my mothers age. And of course, this person had no previous ESL experience. We prayed and hoped that this was just a different person with the same name, only to be sent the CV and find out that yes, this was the right person.


She comes in and starts observing our classes, and I cant help but notice a look of extreme boredom on her face. She doesn’t seem to be in the least engaged with what is going on. Maybe this is easy for her? Maybe it all just makes sense? I ask her after my class what her thoughts were, ans simply tells me that it was ‘alright’. She observes some more classes and the reaction is much of the same. Finally, she starts teaching and proceeds to give about the most bloodless class I have ever seen. The students are bored and confused, and certainly not learning. And once the classes finishes, they marched right on out and made a complaint. I asked A what she thought about her class, and she said that she thought it was alright. I give her the basics of teaching and things buck buck up, slowly and surely. That was of course of three weeks, but in the intermittent time her classes continue to suck, and i continue to tell her how to change them. Not that it did any good. At every criticism I am told something to the effect of “Right, I had thought of that…” or “well, I was really thinking I was going to do this like I did things at my old job”.

This isn’t your old job. Your old job, in fact, had nothing to do with EFL. You are going to teach this our way.

I shape her up in due course. Then my boss drops me the bombshell duty of informing this woman, who is my mothers age, that not wearing a bra to work was a violation of the dress code. Did I mention my boss was a woman? If anything, it was her damn problem. But to make matters worse it led to a long going argument where my boss was incredulous of the fact that I hadn’t even noticed that this woman wasn’t wearing it. I always ended up coming back to the same point, namely why in the world would I notice that she wasn’t wearing a bra?

Ultimately, I didn’t end up having to have this delightful conversation with this new teacher, and my boss made it clear that she was being magnanimous in not making me have this confrontation.

Well, it wasn’t all that bad. The other teacher was marginally competent. Or at least, he was so at certain aspects of the work itself. He was one of those few people who actually wanted to come into this industry, and had actually studied for it. In this respect, he was  ready to go straight out of the box (so to speak) He needed minimum training and picked up the changes we needed right off.  We were all pretty happy with his performance as we watched him teach his first classes. However, nothing is without its flaws. About a week ago he called  in sick because on the last night of his weekend he drank the tap water and got himself sick. The burden of covering his classes fell on to me. Fine, we all make mistakes, I get that, but apparently he doesn’t necessarily learn his lessons because not a week later (today as of this writing) I had to cover for his classes again, in that he drank he god damn tap water a second time.

He doesn’t seem to learn his lessons. He’s got the job down easy , but other aspects of it are giving him a bit of trouble. He seems to not only forget when to sign up for classes, but how. He as well still has not managed to master the technique of assessing student levels. We’ve given him a couple of trials of where we asked him to assess the skill level of a person whom we know well. Not only did he fail, but he managed to fail magnificently, putting one of the best speakers in the school into one of the lowest categories.

Well, we all make mistakes.

And then there is the last one. A compromise in age between the other two teachers, this one is about a decade older than me. She also came to the center with absolutely no experience whatsoever,  but this time this lack of experience was accompanied by some kind of odd, bitter resentment. My personal hypothesis, this person is here having failed at other things in life, and the resentment comes form that. It’s a theory, and in chats with her she has already expressed what her larger ambitions are and why she is here.

Not that I buy any of it.

This one arrived to Hangzhou with her share of hardships and difficulties. None of these were terribly different from the hardships I encountered  when I moved here, but she let us know about them immediately, enough so that I commented on the phenomenon to another British friend of mine. “We do enjoy a good complain” she told me. Now, while I get that (I too enjoy a good complain), there are limits to how much of this you can take. We gave her a generous ten days to get her life in order before having her start training. She got her affairs together relatively quickly and then turned up to the office looking for things to do. It felt a bit like an affront to out generosity. She kept on saying that the other people that she came with were already starting to work at their centers, and that she was ready. Except that we weren’t, so we told her to hit the bricks and come back later. Her first day rolls around and she complains that all she is doing is observing. She was ready, she insisted. Finally the day comes that she has to teach her first class and she does a magnificently terrible job. Of course, she then complained that it wasn’t fair, because the class only had one student in it. The next day she taught an equally awful class, which also wasn’t fair despite having the right amount of students. This time they weren’t talkative enough. Every day there was something else wrong, and never was any of it her fault.

I am not exactly sure how that works.

Once upon a time a reddit thread gave advice regarding red flags in people. It warned about these ‘sour luck/never my fault’ types. If people claim that things aren’t their fault, perpetually, that it is always life or circumstances or just plain rotten luck working against them, it likely isn’t. Part of the problem is likely that this person plain and simple just doesn’t have their shit in order.

That was the case here as well. The person simply does not have their shit in order.

The complaining continues. Just the other day she complained of the power point we use having a differing definition of a word. “I don’t use the word like that.” Fine, but do you fucking understand it? Can you teach it? A couple of days before that, she claimed to be having problems with a power point. I asked her to be more specific and she told me that you had to click often.

Lady, I don’t have fucking time for this. Yes, we work with computers. Yes, you are going to have to click. Often. If this is too much, then I am afraid I cannot help you.

Management blows.

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