Teaching English in Thailand, even if you’re a great teacher, doesn’t always guarantee job security. Thai schools are notorious for letting farang (western) English teachers go at the drop of a hat. Sometimes you’re told why you’re being let go, most of the time the Thai school won’t give you an honest answer.
Take heart though. It is possible to guarantee yourself job security teaching in a Thai school and it’s as simple as doing the following things.
Don’t Complain – One of the things Thai teachers and administrators at Thai schools say is western teachers complain too much. Thailand is still a relatively poor country, particularly outside Bangkok, and Thai schools often have little money. But, when the photocopier stops working, school books don’t arrive on time or the air conditioning breaks down, western teachers get upset.
Constantly in the administrator’s office complaining about every tiny thing isn’t going to win you friends or influence people. Thais are known as a nationality that rarely complains. So, when there’s a westerner in their midst permanently whining, it seems even more dramatic than in other countries.
Don’t complain too much. It will impact your job security. Negatively.
Create Relationships With Thai Teachers – In many Thai schools, western teachers stay at one side of the staff room, Thais at the other. Oftentimes, this is due more to language difficulties than anything else.
However, making no effort to be friendly to the Thai staff is a huge reason western teachers are let go. When a school has a western teacher who doesn’t interact with Thai staff, doesn’t make any effort to make friends, and certainly isn’t working as part of a team, the Thai teachers notice it and so does the school administration.
If, on the other hand, you are friendly to the Thai staff and make an effort to create positive relationships at school, this will benefit you hugely when it comes to getting a contract renewal.
Make the Kids and Parents Like You – Thailand is a country where much of success at work is based on if people like you or not. If the kids you teach like you and the parents like you, you’ve pretty much got job security for life at most schools in Thailand.
Particularly at Thai private schools, where the parents are paying hefty school fees, if they feel they’re getting their money’s worth because their child’s teacher is so nice, they’ll be happy with the school and the school will be happy with you. It’s a great way to keep your job too.
Go the Extra Mile – A large percentage of western teachers in Thailand do the bare minimum at school and nothing else. They arrive as the morning bell is about to go off and they leave right after the bell rings. They don’t talk to the kids they teach outside the classroom and, if there’s ever a need to volunteer for some extra task, few western teachers bother.
If however Thai school administrators see you’re putting in a little extra effort, chatting to the kids after your class is over, talking to the parents when they pick their kids up, or helping a Thai teacher to decorate a notice board for a special event, it will go a long way to guaranteeing you job security.
Thais are extremely proud of their country but they do know its limitations. They’re also aware of the problems at their schools and know Thai eduction isn’t particularly good.
However, they don’t need a western teacher to come to their country, complain about their school, ignore the Thai staff, barely acknowledge the kids, avoid the parents and do the minimum amount to get by.
Many of the western teachers who don’t end up with job security and are let go do one, some or all of these things.
If you can avoid doing any of them and, most importantly, act so that the Thai staff, the kids and the parents will like you, you’ll often end up with job security for life.