Author：Kevin Cook 2019-04-12
Earlier this week I put in a week’s notice of resignation from my English language training center in Rizhao, Shandong. Before I’m labeled as a no-good, rotten quitter, let me explain…
Why I quit
I get along very well with the staff, teachers and my superiors. The school pays on time, provided a stellar apartment, and takes great care of me. Unfortunately, I’m just not happy teaching at this school.
When I originally signed up for this position, I thought I was going to teach a mix of adults and kids, but that’s not the case. 90% of my students are between the ages of 5 and 10. Half of my students are under age 7.
I really enjoy teaching English, but I’m a terrible babysitter. A good kindergarten and 1st grade teacher is stern, and I’m not. The din of screaming kids combined with the watchful eye of cross-armed moms with high expectations is too much for me. Some can handle it, but I can’t.
Teaching at a language training center in China is much different from teaching at a public school. At the end of the day a language center is a business, and the primary goal of business is to make money, which I understand. The problem is, I don’t feel so much like a teacher here as I do a device for selling the product of a company.
The stress of teaching at a language center is much higher than at a public school. Parents sign their children up, pay an upfront lump sum, and expectations are high for their kids to learn and apply English. It’s my job to make that happen regardless of some external factors that can make teaching incredibly difficult.
Some students have no desire to learn English. I totally understand this. I hated learning Spanish when I was a kid. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Unfortunately, when the horse’s mother gets upset because you can’t make it drink, then there’s a problem.
The next step
I’ve weighed my options.
I could pull the notorious “midnight run” and simply vanish overnight and start a new life with a new job in another province in China. I mean, many foreigners have done this in the past when they weren’t happy with their job.
I’m no saint, but ethically, I couldn’t do that to a company that has treated me as well as my current employer. Needless to say, it would be awkward.
For the last couple weeks, I’ve been frantically applying and searching for a new job. Now the search is over. I’m beginning my new job very soon, which I believe is a better fit for me.
My new job will be in the same city, Rizhao. It’s not too far from my current school. That way I can still use my year-long gym membership (paid upfront) and bicycle. Plus, the move will be easier than packing everything on a train and starting over in a whole new province.
I’m not very familiar with the complicated paperwork and processing associated with switching employers in China, so I’m apprehensive about sharing details about my new job just yet. If my legal status as a foreign worker in China is in jeopardy as a result of my leaving this company, then I may face some problems.
So it turns out that I still work for the language center. I tried my best to quit, but within the confines of Chinese law, I couldn’t have my cake and eat it too… yet. This is about compromising, and my employer agreed to meet me in the middle.
It’s a long story so I’ll just give you the meat and potatoes of it…
I decided I no longer wanted the language center job in China.
Per my contract, I must provide a one-week prior notice of resignation if I want to leave.
I wrote a formal letter of resignation stating one week of prior notice, signed it and submitted it.
After a week, I planned to collect my letter of release, which I need if I want to get a job elsewhere in China.
Once I have the letter of release from my employer, I can take it and be off. End of story.
All seemed well, until…
The language center refused to give me the release letter.
You see, if I leave the company right now, I would essentially f*@# over the business.
The company was depending on me when it hired me. The language center needs more foreign teachers and it cannot afford to lose me at this moment.
While I really want to get out now, my selfish conscience actually submitted.
I was given two options:
1. I pay 10,000 yuan ($1,600) and I can leave now.
2. I work for the language center until they hire a replacement teacher.
I agreed to option number 2.
I’m hoping it’ll only take about a month, then I’ll receive my letter of release.
Once I have that letter I can switch to my next employer.
My next employer…
A college in Rizhao.
I’m excited to teach college courses, hopefully starting next month. I’ve already toured the campus, received my teaching schedule and met some of my future students. It’s just a waiting game now.
What’s even more badass about this college gig: I can teach whatever I want. The curriculum is mine to shape and mold. I can discuss anything with the students, as long as it isn’t religion.
The college is just as eager to hire me as I am to begin working there.
So this whole thing didn’t turn out so badly.
Yes, I’m still teaching young kiddos in the meantime, but there isn’t any bad blood between me and the language center (I hope).