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Author Topic: Recommend A Good School To Me!  (Read 3911 times)

Raoul F. Duke

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Recommend A Good School To Me!
« on: February 04, 2011, 12:27:06 AM »
I hate to be the one to tell you this, but finding credible specific recommendations online is very, very difficult. Warnings are easy and plentiful, but real recommendations are very rare indeed. There are some reasons for this:

- There aren't many completely shit-free teaching experiences in China. Perfection pretty much doesn't exist; it's really a matter of finding a situation with a good-to-shit ratio you can learn to tolerate. People may stay with such situations, possibly even for more than one year, but they won't exactly recommend the place to others.

- People get mouthy when they feel abused, not when they're at least reasonably happy. Sad but true...people will blanket the 'net with complaints, but a lot of happy stories never get written down. We encourage people here to write both kinds of reviews, but even at The Saloon the complaints predominate.

Making things more complicated, a lot of the reviews you DO find on other sites (we stamp down this nonsense PDQ at the Saloon...) are not trustworthy. They may sound great, but odds are overwhelming that they are planted by the school managers, or written up by turncoat foreigners who are compensated for their efforts. Such "reviews" will tell you any imaginable lie just to fill out their faculty rosters, and reality will set in once they have their hooks in you. aoaoaoaoao

We've also had posters in the past- and their ilk are still rampant on other sites- who constantly felt compelled to build themselves up by endlessly oozing about how completely heavenly their jobs were, and what indispensable parts they were of astoundingly high-quality programs. Of course, these results will not reproduce in the lab, and personally I'd put more credibility in a stealth-ad from school managers. kkkkkkkkkk aaaaaaaaaa

Ultimately, the best indicator of a school may well be not a recommendation, but a scarcity of complaints. bibibibibi

Teaching in China is kind of like being an Acapulco cliff-diver...research and preparation are good and essential things, but sooner or later you just have to let go and jump, and hope for the best.

I know a lot of people come to The Saloon and other sites in search of good solid recommendations of dependably decent schools, and I'm really, really sorry: I wish I could help you. The sad truth is that, in the overall big picture, there ain't none. ananananan
"Vicodin and dumplings...it's a great combination!" (Anthony Bourdain, in Harbin)

"Here in China we aren't just teaching...
we're building the corrupt, incompetent, baijiu-swilling buttheads of tomorrow!" (Raoul F. Duke)

Ruth

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Re: Recommend A Good School To Me!
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2011, 07:32:31 AM »
All that and more. What's 'good' for me might not be 'good' for you.

For example, I'm about a 45-minute bus ride from the center of the city where all the bars and western food and other expats are. Not a problem for me. For those who like a night life it sucks, as buses stop running about 9:30 and a taxi ride home is over 70 kuai. Some people run away screaming at the thought of teaching kids; others like it. Some want small town boonies in order to immerse themselves in the culture; others whine if they can't get a weekly McD fix. Hard to recommend 'good' if we all have different criteria.
If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat.

The Local Dialect

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Re: Recommend A Good School To Me!
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2011, 03:44:18 PM »
Ruth makes a good point.

I had an experience recommending my school (where I was, at the time, quite happy) to a friend and he had a totally different experience that was completely different from mine. I don't know, to this day, why my school treated this guy so shoddily. He was an experienced, qualified teacher from the States, someone our school should have been happy to have aboard, but they treated him like crap and he left after only one semester, was poached, in fact, by another school here in BJ. Things turned out ok for him in the end and it may be that some of his difficulties were self-inflicted as he can be a bit abrasive and my school definitely does not like teachers they percieve as troublemakers, but still. I told him it was a good place to work and he did not agree.

This was only about a year ago and I haven't recommended a school since then. People ask a lot, but things change so quickly and people's expectations are often so different from mine that I just don't feel confident sending people somewhere where they might not be happy. A school that might have been an ok place a year ago could have had a total overhaul and become a bad employer and vice versa. A school where I'm happy might not make you happy. I definitely felt responsible for my friend coming to my school and having a crap time of it. So I just don't risk it anymore.

old34

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Re: Recommend A Good School To Me!
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2011, 05:12:15 PM »
What the previous two ladies said:

Once a long time ago, on a different board, I posted a request from a friend of mine, the dean of foreign languages of a medical college that had just received approval to hire foreign teachers. I got a beseeching resume from somone, who at that time, was afairly regular poster there. This was really the type of job he was looking for in China, and he had yadda..yadda.yadda experience, and please forward it to the school. Yadda...yadda.yadda.

So I did. And the dean liked the creds and they got in contact. The dean called to thank me for the reference. I told the dean, I don't know this guy, I posted the opening on (a TEFLChina site) and so cannot vouch for him.

They met and the Dean called me to tell me thanks. They had reached an agreement (this was in June for a September start). He signed the contract.

"I feel like I owe you one, for hooking me up with this job" he said, so I met him for lunch. No, not the dean. The guy had that John Boehner slippery skin and he needed a drool towel. He creeped me out. My escape was when I asked him, "So what are you going to do  before the September start?" (This was in late June).

"I don't have to be back here 'til September, so I'm going to spend the summer in Kunming."

And so he did. And he never appeared or re-appeared for the job. The Dean was contacting me feverishly because he had school officials wanting to know what happened. I sent him an email, and he simply replied he had gone to Kunming and found a job and liked it there better. Goodbye.

I ended up teaching (part time) classes to cover the dean (not a bad deal, the dean got me 200/hour).

But here's where it gets personal, for those of you old enough on the various TEFL China sites....

That guy was the infamous WHITJOHN from Dave's.

Yeah, I met the guy in person and he is that slimy and creepy.

After that, I am very, very slow to recommend anyone to any school
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

old34

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Re: Recommend A Good School To Me!
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2011, 05:23:16 PM »
While, on the other side of the coin...

I have also had good, solid friends for  whom I have recommended good, solid (IMO) positions and things haven't worked out for one or the other side.

I have generally a very positive attitude towards employment opps in China, but realize mileage may vary.
Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. - B. O'Driscoll.
TIC is knowing that, in China, your fruit salad WILL come with cherry tomatoes AND all slathered in mayo. - old34.

Kid Presentable

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Re: Recommend A Good School To Me!
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2011, 03:16:40 AM »
Ultimately, the best indicator of a school may well be not a recommendation, but a scarcity of complaints. bibibibibi

This was the most important factor for me in deciding to pursue my current employer. If a school employs X number of teachers at any given time, and in the last 5 years you find less than X number of complaints. Than you can hopefully assume that some teachers are just whiners.  ananananan

Also, the nature of the complaints is important. For example: "Those jerks make me work on Saturday" isn't something I take as seriously as: "They took my passport and won't return it". Depends on how much you value your Saturdays, and your basic human rights, I suppose.

That being said, I haven't started working for these people yet. If they attempt to harvest my non-essential organs during the medical exam, I'll be sure to come on here and complain about it for your benefit.  bfbfbfbfbf

rollerboogie

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Re: Recommend A Good School To Me!
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2011, 07:49:21 AM »
A few jiao: an individual might want to be wary of recommendations where the poster uses terms like, "real China," and, "authentic" in conjunction to experiences or living conditions in China. If it is from an actual expat they could very well be a masochistic kook who assumes that underdeveloped parts of China are some how more, "real" and "authentic" than other Chinese cities. "Old China," or, "traditional" are not yet hot button words that necessarily warrant turning on the bullshit detector.


jpd01

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Re: Recommend A Good School To Me!
« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2011, 09:10:50 AM »
Depends on what century you are talking about, I too would describe my first job in a Chinese village as "authentic" China. But this is absolutely based upon the collective vision that people have of China, pigtails and oxen etc. Very few people have a concept of modern China and it's never helped by the media image that China has outside of China.
Shanghai or Guangzhou as a modern entity simply doesn't figure in peoples minds if they have never actually been to China.
I can easily see how a rural teacher that lives and works in his little place in China then occasionally visits the large city or provincial capital and sees the large shopping centers and eateries and sees nothing essentially Chinese about these places.
Life in a larger Chinese city can be devoid of anything that we could perceive as cultural. And if you weren't constantly surrounded by Chinese people you wouldn't really see anything that most of us would consider "authentically" Chinese before actually entering this country.
So for me I don't take those words as being from a "kook" just a teacher or person that lives in a bubble, we all live in bubbles of differing sizes and shapes.
"I don't understand what I did wrong except live a life that everyone is jealous of." Charlie Sheen.