All teachers during my time at Benxi Future English experienced teaching both in David’s private school and various public schools. Teachers find themselves either predominantly private school teachers or predominantly public school teachers.
I was one of the lucky few, who kept the same classes from the moment I arrived. This gave me fourteen months to bond with my students, creating a much better teaching environment. Other teachers weren’t so lucky. They had their classes and schedule changed almost on a weekly basis. Just as they were getting to bond with their students, their classes were taken away and they were given new ones. This is especially true with classes in the public school.
When I left, it was an emotional goodbye. I’d known the students for so long and could relate to them on an individual basis. Because of this, I felt I had accomplished something and contributed to their learning successes. For the majority of teachers though, this experience was taken away from them because of the constantly changing schedule. Instead it was replaced with feeling disillusioned, resentment and unappreciated.
My wife had been teaching a certain public school class for the majority of her time here. In her last week of teaching, this class was taken away from her, stopping her from having the chance of saying goodbye. Your own sentiments will be rarely listened to if it affects the possibility of making more money.
David likes his teachers to be workaholics. Which is a sharp contrast to David himself, who spends his days playing badminton and watching his stocks and shares. It normally takes him several days to replace the printer and photocopying ink, which are often a necessity for teaching the classes.
He will only close his school if it is an absolute must. This is why for all teachers, the standard three weeks worth of ‘official’ public holidays is given for each year contract. You have to take this the same time as the rest of the Chinese population. For teachers who spent the majority of their time in public schools, far more than this was received, without losing any pay (another benefit of public school teaching).
When public holidays are only for a day, David does try and change classes around in his school so this becomes your normal day off. This way not only do you miss out on a days holiday, but no income is lost for David from cancelled classes.
After seeing this happen on a couple of occasions, and realising I was losing out on some of my holiday entitlement, I did take out my contract and enquire (in a forceful manner) when I would be receiving my entitlement. This tactic worked perfectly. If I hadn’t done this, I would have finished my contract without having the holiday I was promised. One lesson I learnt from working here, is if you don’t stick up for yourself, you will be walked all over.
Like already mentioned, it is a six day working week, giving only one day off. Benxi Future English School is closed on Mondays, while public school is closed on Saturday and Sunday. Because of this teachers find themselves having different days off to each other. It was common for some teachers to have their day off when no one else had theirs. If you have come to Benxi alone, this can take away some of the socialising enjoyments of living here.