Monday 30 March 2015

Quick Tip: Do Student Evals During Mid-Terms

At many schools whether or not a teacher gets renewed often depends entirely on student evals. While there are other issues at stake, they aren't that transparent. Although many people don't like student evals and say that students aren't customers, it looks like they're here to stay.

It's necessary to get student feedback if you want to become a better teacher. Student evals are often done at the end of the course. However, if you can get your hands on the evaluation sheet ahead of time and give them out during mid-terms you'll be able to nip any problems in the bud. It may also change your teaching style and help your students out even more.

If you have high student evals, you have a better chance of getting renewed. There are a number of things you can do to help boost your student evals, but I've found the best thing to do is to ask students.

I create an open-ended questionnaire that I give out to students during mid-term week. They fill it out in class either in groups or individually. It's anonymous and I explain I want their feedback in order to make the class better.

I've found it to help out immensely. I'm glad I ask students for feedback and I know that changing my lessons will help make me a better teacher. It has also helped my student eval score so it's a win-win for everyone involved.


Wednesday 25 March 2015

Online EdDs and PhDs

Updated 20 March 2017

If you're looking for an online masters degree program, please read this post.

Here are a few programs that offer doctorate degrees that can be earned completely online or only require a few on-campus sessions that are usually held for a couple days during breaks. Some of these universities are B and M (brick and mortar) and others are online schools. Do your research thoroughly before choosing a school. 

Don't just choose a programme based on price! You can get grants for doing a doctorate. Check out profellows for more info. If you're looking for encouragement while drudging through your programme, PhinisheD is a great website with like-minded people. More info can be found at ISR: distance degree programmes. 

Doctoral degrees aren't the end all. Here are some articles against them.




New Zealand

South Africa

United Kingdom

 United States


Sunday 15 March 2015

The TEFL Teacher Salary Myth

Everyone knows that things aren't what they used to be. Before any backpacker could waltz into a school and get a TEFL job. The salary was decent and you didn't have to teach too many hours. They often provided housing, a visa, and flights. The only requirement was that you were a native speaker, or looked like one. Nowadays schools are asking for more: a masters, TEFL cert, experience, a clean background check, publications, presentations, discrimination like lookism and ageism (too old or too young) also comes into play, and the list goes on. Unfortunately, while they're requiring more from teachers, they're not offering more in return.

I recently wrote about what the situation was like in Korea. The problem is that it's an employers' market. There are just way too many qualified teachers out there fighting for a position and salaries are suffering. 

Schools may try to trick you by telling you an old exchange rate or saying that local teachers only make X amount. Do your own research. Don't believe the exchange rate they tell you. Comparing local teachers to foreign teachers isn't a valid argument.

Some people will tell you that TEFL teachers are foreign guests, but this isn't true. We're not guests. We work for our money. No one cleans my room for me or cooks my meals. Other people will say that we're indentured servants which is also not true. We're free to leave at any moment. The truth is that we're employees. However, that doesn't mean that schools should take advantage of us. There are good schools that pay high salaries. You just have to look for the hidden gems.


Wednesday 11 March 2015

How to Advance Your TEFL Career

The following post is from a guest blogger. Jackie Bolen has got some great info on her blog, Wealthy English Teacher. This is an excerpt from the book, The Wealthy English Teacher: Teach, Travel, and Secure Your Financial Future, which is available on Amazon in both digital and print formats.

You Can Exceed Low Expectations 
Once you’ve been teaching abroad for a year or two, it is time to start focusing more on your career and how to improve your employment prospects so you can move up in the world into bigger and better things. Teaching English as Second Language is not exactly rocket science and you will most often be teaching pretty basic things to students who often do not have high expectations for their native English speaking teachers. The administration at your place of employment is also likely to have low expectations of you as well. Nevertheless, this should not be an excuse to be lazy or fail to upgrade your qualifications; you should be constantly trying to improve yourself.

Career Behaviors to Avoid 
I will give you examples of some career behaviors to avoid. I have numerous acquaintances here in Korea who have been working at universities for the past six, eight or ten years. They got their jobs back in the old days when anyone with a bachelor's degree in anything could get the job just by luck, or knowing someone on the inside. During their tenure, they have spent plenty of time at the expat bars, hanging out, or traveling around Asia--basically doing anything besides professional development training to improve their job prospects such as obtaining a CELTA or DELTA certification, or TEFL cert, getting a related master's degree, learning a second language, getting academic papers published, presenting at conferences, or getting a teaching license from their home country.

Over this long period of rest and relaxation, qualifications for university teachers in Korea have risen, such that it is now almost impossible to get the job without a master's degree and a few years of experience teaching at a university, or at the very least adults or high school students. Now, those people who were just enjoying life, sliding on by with only doing the minimum have started to lose their jobs and are finding it extremely difficult to get another job with similar benefits. Do not find yourself in that situation!

Do You Want to Make Teaching English your Career? 
How do you go about improving your skills and qualifications? The first piece of advice that I could give you is to decide whether or not you want to make teaching a longer-term career option. Like many people, perhaps you just came overseas to teach for a bit of adventure and the chance to pay off some debts and save money. If this is the case, do not worry so much about improving your teaching qualifications and instead focus on making a plan for life after teaching. Perhaps you could do some online courses to improve your career prospects once you return home, maybe there is some sort of certification test you could take or you could work on applications to graduate school. Definitely be thinking about your post-teaching life because going home without a plan is the surest way to burn through massive amounts of money and find yourself teaching abroad again when you do not have any options left and are broke and desperate.

Get Qualified If You Want to Make TEFL Your Career 
If you decide that you like teaching and want to make it a career, then get qualified by doing any of the following:
  • complete a master's degree in education, TESOL, or English 
  • get a CELTA or DELTA certificate 
  • get certified to administer and grade popular exams such as TOIEC speaking or IELTs 
  • get a teaching certification and license from your home country, which opens up the option of teaching at international schools 
  • get published, formally or informally 
  • make a name for yourself through blogging, social media or other online ventures 
  • present at conferences and make sure you get certificates proving that you did so 
  • volunteer with an English teaching organization (for example, KOTESOL) and accept positions with increasing responsibility 

You can find Jackie Bolen at the popular, long-running blog, My Life! Teaching in a Korean University.


Tuesday 10 March 2015

Teachers Should Do Self-Evaluations

From Bottle Surf
There are a couple of types of teacher evaluations. I think it's very important to do all four of these when a teacher is being evaluated for renewal. It helps keep a balanced view.
Self-evaluations are necessary because they allow a teacher to set and met goals. They also allow teachers to see what they need to work on. Admin should sit down together and decide what should go on a self-eval. Here are some ideas.


How to Choose an ESL Teaching Job Wisely

The following post is from a guest blogger. Jackie Bolen has got some great info on her blog, Wealthy English Teacher. This is an excerpt from the book, The Wealthy English Teacher: Teach, Travel, and Secure Your Financial Future, which is available on Amazon in both digital and print formats.

The Salary per Hour Worked Model
Salary will (and should) be a major factor when deciding on a job offer, especially if you have significant amounts of debt to pay off or want to kick-start your journey to financial success. However, I would like to suggest a more helpful way of examining it than just simply going for the highest number possible. A better variable to consider is salary per hour worked. By having a job with the highest salary per hour worked possible, you will have one of two things: a lot of money coming in each month or plenty of free time on your hands to pursue other things such as overtime opportunities, building passive income streams or advancing your career in some way.  

3 Examples from South Korea
I will give you three examples from South Korea, which is the context that I am most familiar with. Let's assume for the sake of simplicity that housing or adequate housing allowance is included in all cases (as is usually the case in South Korea). Also, to keep things from getting overly complicated, I will not factor in health care or taxes, which are the same for all jobs. As a quick reference, 1,000 South Korean Won is generally equivalent to around $1 USD, so 2.4 million Korean Won is around $2,400 USD.  

The Average Hagwon (Private Institute) Job
  • Monthly salary: 2.4 million Korean Won
  • Weekly teaching hours: 30
  • Vacation: 2 weeks/year
  • Airfare: included (2 million Won)
  • Bonus money at end of contract: 2.4 million Won
  • Total yearly salary: 33.2 million Won
  • Total hours worked/year: 1500 Salary/hour = 22,000 Won  

The Average University Job
  • Monthly salary: 2.2 million Korean Won
  • Weekly teaching hours: 15
  • Vacation: 20 weeks/year
  • Airfare: not included
  • Bonus money at end of contract: not included
  • Total yearly salary: 26.4 million Won
  • Total hours worked/ year: 480 Salary/hour = 55,000 Won

The Average Public School Job
  • Monthly salary: 2.0 million Korean won
  • Weekly teaching hours: 22
  • Vacation: 14 days (officially), but there are many “desk-warming” days where you have to be at school but have no classes or work that you need to do. I will include some of these, so vacation is around 6 weeks (unofficially), which is what I will use for my calculations.
  • Airfare: included (2 million Won)
  • Bonus money at end of contract: 2.0 million Won
  • Total yearly salary: 28 million Won
  • Total hours worked: 1012 Salary/hour = 28,000 Won  

The Job with the Highest Salary is Not Always the One You Should Choose
As you can see from these three examples, the hagwon job which at first glance seems like the best one due to the high monthly salary, free airfare and contract completion bonus is the worst one in terms of salary per hour due to the high number of teaching hours and low vacation time. The public school job that initially seems to be the worst due to the low monthly salary turns out to be better than the hagwon job because it pays 6000 Won more per teaching hour. And of course, the university job is by far the best, but these jobs are not that easy to come by in South Korea and require some serious qualifications and networking skills (for tips on how to get one of these coveted jobs, check out this book, available on Amazon in both Kindle and print editions: How to Get a University Job in South Korea).  

Legal Overtime Opportunities Another closely related factor to consider when deciding on a job offer is the availability of legal overtime opportunities. There is always plenty of illegal work you could do on the side but I do not recommend this, especially if you are someone like me who likes to stay on the right side of the law. The best way to do legal overtime work is through your main place of employment. For example, some universities in Korea have a low number of teaching hours per week and large amounts of vacation. If you can combine this with lots of opportunities for work during those off times, you can make a significant amount of money and in some cases even double your monthly salary. Another way to work legal overtime is by working at a place that gives you permission for outside work and will sign whatever paperwork necessary to make it possible for you to do this, assuming it is permissible with immigration. Overtime opportunities should be something that you inquire about during the interview process.  

It’s Not an Easy Decision
As you can see, the decision about which ESL teaching job to take is a difficult one and the decision should not be made without careful consideration. For lots more information related to Teaching ESL, check out the author’s popular site, My Life! Teaching in a Korean University and for more ideas about how to build a successful financial future, go to The Wealthy English Teacher.


Thursday 5 March 2015

The Problem With Teachers Becoming Admin

From Global Sports Jobs
If a teacher stays with a school for a while chances are that they will get to move up the ladder into a leadership position. While I think it's great for teachers to advance their careers, I also think there's a problem with teachers moving into admin positions.

There are usually two reasons why teachers move into these positions.
  • Time they've spent with the school
  • They're a good teacher
The problem with this is that neither reason means that they will be a good administrator. If teachers are going to move into admin positions, the schools must choose someone who is a good leader and that might not necessarily mean choosing the person who is the best teacher or the one who has been there the longest. They also should help the teacher transition into an admin position, through mentoring or encouraging them to take classes.

I think it's good for teachers to move up, however, schools have to be careful how they go about doing this. 


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