Why I Quit My Teaching Job in China on the First Day
I was very excited about the chance to work at a well known international school in Guangdong Province last year. The working hours were very reasonable, the salary was great, and I even found out that a friend of mine was working on the staff. I traveled many hours by train to reach the school’s city. I could hardly wait to get started.
On the afternoon that I arrived, I was warmly welcomed by the principal and given a tour of the school. I was told that I could start teaching the next day while the school began applying for my work visa.
The next morning, I enthusiastically walked into the school and received my schedule from a secretary. The first class was easy enough to find and soon, I was standing in front of around 30 eight-year-olds. This is when my troubles began.
For one thing, none of the students seemed to be able to speak English and there was no Chinese assistant anywhere to be seen. No one introduced me and when I began to talk, no one seemed to want to listen. I spent most of the class trying to introduce myself and talk about my rules for the year. By the time that the class finished, I felt as if I had never had a class at all.
The next two classes of the morning did not go much better. The students showed no respect for me and there was no one to help me with crowd control. I spent the morning as a glorified ‘babysitter’ and it was the first time in my teaching career that I felt like I had no control.
During the lunch break, I immediately went to the office to ask if I could have some help – especially since it was my first day.
“Sorry.” They shook their heads sadly. “All of our teachers are busy with other activities.” I shook my head sadly too. I was afraid that this day was only going to get worse.
My fears were well founded. After lunch, I was late for two of my three classes because I had no idea where they were. Half of the classrooms in this five-story school were missing numbers above the doors and it seemed to me that the layout of the school was illogical.
In all of my afternoon classes, I once again found myself serving as a babysitter instead of a teacher. Children were eating and drinking in my classes and for the most part, refused to listen to what I had to say. After the final bell rang, I was exhausted and frustrated. This was the worst day that I had ever experienced teaching anywhere. And it was only the first day. Usually – for me at least – the first few weeks of teaching were great until the novelty wore off. With these students, the novelty of my arrival never even existed.
Before I returned to the office, I spent some time walking around the school and thinking about the day. I had never quit anything, but I had a sinking feeling about this school. I was pretty sure that I would lose my sanity at the school after a few days.
With a heavy heart, I walked into the office that day and politely explained to the lady who had recruited me that I was no longer interested in teaching there. They were very gracious but I could tell that they did not understand my decision. I felt bad for them but I was also relieved because I had ‘gone’ with my instinct and I believed that I was saving myself a year of struggle.
A week later, I found another job that offered a little lower salary but that was a lot more rewarding for me. I never regretted my decision to walk away from that international school.
While it is usually a school or training center that will want to ‘try’ a teacher out, it is not a bad idea for you to ‘test’ your school out before you sign a contract. If you have the chance, why not spend a couple of days teaching before you make your final decision? You may save yourself a world of stress and heartache in the future.
Do you have a story to share with us about teaching in China? Leave us a comment below.