Job 4: BFITS
Posted by Heliocentrism on May 15, 2015
December 2009 – May 2010
Working for the government through a company
I already have an entry on the basics of how I got my job in Thailand. So, let me give you a brief re-cap here. Mark and I got to Thailand and sent out lots of emails answering job ads. Neither of us got any replies, though.
There was one particular job that I found in the classifies of a Bangkok newspaper. I really wanted the job and it seemed like they needed someone right away. But still, no one replied to my email.
The ad in the newspaper gave the company’s address and it was a couple blocks from our hostel. So, Mark and I put on our business attire, took our resumes, reference letters, copies of our diplomas, and other documents and knocked on BFITS‘ door.
We sat in the office of a guy ready to interview us. “Mr. Boss” seemed very happy to see us. A math teacher had just quit a few days earlier and an English teacher was on the verge of quitting. He had been trying to call the Human Resources department to get them to put an ad in the paper for a new math teacher, but they had yet to reply to any of the messages he left them.
Clearly, they had put the ad for a math teacher in the paper, because that was the ad I saw. But, HR either didn’t know how to answer emails or they just didn’t care. They never answered a single email while I worked there. If I needed anything, I had to call the person I needed help from on their private cell phone. (If you are lucky enough to get the private cell phone number of someone who works in HR at BFITS, don’t loose it, or abuse it!)
Long story short, I got the job and started that Friday. Mark’s job, at the same company but a different school, started 2 weeks later. We got a nice apartment and settled into our new lives in Bangkok.
The job itself was okay. It was just a lot of work, for not that much pay. I was working 10 times as hard as I did when I worked at a high school in Korea. If I were making more money while working harder, it would not have been so bad. But jobs in Thailand generally don’t pay that much.
(I lived quite well while I was in Thailand, because in baht I made decent money. I made half of what I did in Korea when comparing both the baht and the won to the US dollar. In Korea I made enough money to live well and send money home to pay off student loans. In Thailand I just made enough money to live well.)
I taught 7th through 9th grade math; two 9th grade classes, three 8th grade classes, and three 7th grade classes. I taught each class 4 times a week. After each lesson I gave homework, after which I graded and handed back the next day. Every two weeks or so, there was a test, after which I graded and handed back during the next time class.
I went from teaching 1 lesson 20~24 times a week to teaching 12 lessons 2~3 times a week. But it was just middle school math; no biggie. The hard part was the endless grading. Just look at my desk in the photo above. There are 4 towers of homework and tests to grade!
But I was still willing to do this tiring job for a lot less pay for at least a year, just to live in Thailand for a while. I liked the company. (Just look at the band they hired for their year end party!)
The problems started after my first test. Parents complained when their kids’ failed.
It was not a lot of kids that failed; just the students that did no homework. What no one bothered to tell me, was that the last teacher, the one who had quit, used to grade on a curve. These students were used to doing nothing and passing their test anyway.
First off, I’ve never heard of grading on a curve in middle school. That sort of thing should only start in college when the coursework actually gets hard. If you start grading on a curve for pre-algebra, you’re just setting these kids up to fail in life.
I first heard about the complaints when my supervisor called me one weekend. Mr. Supervisor told me that I just cannot fail any of my students. I liked Mr. Supervisor. I feel like under different circumstances we would have been very good friends. But during this phone call he seriously contradicted himself and left me confused.
I was told not to just hand out grades. I had to give good tests and lots of homework and give the students the scored they earned. My tests could not be too easy but, I was to never ever, never ever ever, fail a student.
I was told that on Monday Mr. Boss was going to come to my school to deal with me. He was going to fix the problem I made. I had angered rich parents and that was a big no-no.
On Monday Mr. Boss looked through my lessons which were in a Power Point file. And he saw all the homework I gave the kids. There was nothing on the test that was not covered in the lessons and practiced in the homework.
In fact there were a few questions on the test that were straight out of the homework. There were a couple problems that we worked out together as a class, and I thought I would just throw 2 of them on the test as a confidence booster. Mr. Boss seemed to really like that.
Seeing that I did my job well and exactly like how he thought I should, Mr. Boss then met with the parents. He defended me and my teaching methods to them, telling them to get used to it or find some other English program for their kids to join.
He stuck around after the meeting to tell me to not change a thing. Then he proceeded to go through my co-workers lessons, tests, and exams. Most of them were applauded for doing good jobs, but a few were given warnings that their tests were too easy or they should give more homework.
A few days later I got another call from Mr. Supervisor. He told me about the heaps of praise I got from Mr. Boss and that I should continue to do what I was doing before. But he warned that this should never happen again. Then for some “unrelated reason” he asked for my teacher pass-code. He needed to check something concerning my students’ scores.
He never came out and said it, but I had a feeling that he was just going to straight up give some kids a passing grade since I would not. We played this game many times. But I was never certain exactly what Mr. Supervisor had done.
It wasn’t until the school year ended and we had a meeting down at the BFITS headquarters, that I found out that all my students had passed. I sat there wondering how could that be possible. I had a few students that never turned in any homework, never passed a single test, and flunked the exam. How could they have passed?
Even with all this, I still liked my job. I worked hard, got paid little, and had parents complaining that I didn’t just pass their kids, but I still liked my job.
In the end, I left for a number of reasons. I had a non-grade-related disagreement with Mr. Supervisor. I needed to do what was best for me and he needed to do what was best for his job. Since what was best for him wasn’t anything near to being what was best for me, I quit.
Besides, Bangkok was in political turmoil at the time. Just about everyday some building was going up in smoke. I never felt unsafe, as long as I stayed away from the protests, but I wanted to get out of Thailand just the same.
I would still recommend BFITS to anyone thinking about moving to Thailand if he or she didn’t have a job in mind already. But I would also give this advice. “Don’t work in Thailand if you need to send money home for any reason.”
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)
- You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
- Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
- People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
- To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.
- Useful Phone Numbers when in Thailand
- Tourism Authority 662-250-5500
- Emergency Number – 999
- Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
- Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
- Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.