This is a continuation of my post on the pros and cons of different teaching situations in Taiwan.
I left my big chain school job in 2006 to work at an English-immersion kindergarten from 9-4, Monday-Friday. I had two hours for lunch while the kids napped. I also taught cram school classes from 4-6 for an hourly wage.
Some people work hours like 11-6, five days a week. They aren’t teaching all those hours, but they are expected to put in face time in the office. You can use that time to prep and grade homework, and then it’s like you’re getting paid to do all the stuff a responsible teacher would do anyway. I found that just the fact of being paid salary instead of hourly made me way friendlier about putting in extra prep time for my classes without feeling like I was volunteering my free time to my employer.
Pros: Working for a salary was great. I got a big raise just by switching schools, and I didn’t have to work evenings or Saturdays anymore.
Cons: Teaching kindy full-time more of a “real” teaching job: I had to come up with lesson plans and activities on my own. I was prepared to do all that after two years at a corporate buxiban, though. Occasionally, I still had to do some activities on Saturdays or evenings without any extra pay, but I didn’t mind so much because I was salaried and not hourly. BUT I was at a school that respected the [foreign] teachers’ free time. Be aware the some schools will give you a salary and then feel entitled to take up a lot of your time outside of your teaching hours, too. I’ve seen foreign teachers have to show up, unpaid, to scrub the walls alongside everybody else on a Saturday morning. Any owner/manager who steals any employees’ time should get lost. Fortunately, I didn’t work at a school like that. However, at my school, it was a big problem if I wanted to take even one day off, for any reason. It’s difficult or impossible to find subs for afternoon classes because just about everyone who is working at all is working in the afternoons. The school made promises about having a foreign teacher in the room for every single class, so our options were always very limited.
Also, be aware that it’s illegal for foreigners to teach kindergarten here. I’ve heard many different reasons why this is the case, but the bottom line is that you can get in trouble for it, as in deported. However, there’s also a big market for English kindergartens, so the schools and the authorities usually work together to avoid creating situations where anyone would get in trouble. Generally, the authorities give the schools lots of advance warning about when they are doing their inspections, and the schools set up escape routes or hiding places for the foreign teachers to avoid confrontation with the authorities. Generally.
Conclusion: If you have a low tolerance for risk, don’t teach kindy. But a lot of foreign teachers and schools believe the risk of getting “caught” is very small. You make more money working those morning hours, too. I happily worked full-time for a salary for many years. I quit when I started to feel like the responsibilities were taking up more and more of my time outside the classroom and the salary hadn’t budged for ten years. Also, after a couple of years, I was bored teaching kindy full-time. I think it’s very possible to find an excellent salaried gig, but do your homework before you commit to a contract at any school.