My position as Academic Coordinator at GEOS, that is.
On March 10th I handed in my resignation. It didn’t happen quite the way I would’ve planned it, but I think fate/destiny/karma gave me a boot in the butt because I’d been dithering for months. More on that later.
It has been no secret that I’ve been disillusioned with my job for a long time. Last year saw us go through 3 managers and countless teachers. Student enrollment was way down and it was looking pretty grim. We theorized that the agents were concerned about the administrative turn-over and they were seeing us as a risk so they didn’t send many students our way.
The company has been on a cost-cutting junket (they even had teachers sign out when they got a new white-board marker) which is why we couldn’t get/keep any instructors. I lobbied to get the starting wage raised from $20/h to $22/h even though it still wasn’t competitive with the the $27/h other schools offered. I also lobbied to get our long-standing teachers some raises because it wouldn’t be fair to raise one and not the others. When the teachers find out they’ll scream blue murder if not quit. A wage freeze had been on from before I started and many others had been there for 6 years+ without any increase given despite jobs being well done. The raises eventually happened, but then the matter of wage parity came up.
The manager who was there when I started as a substitute teacher left at the end of September 2015 and we didn’t even have a temp manager until around February 2016 when the, then, Victoria manager offered to keep an eye on us. It was just Kyoko, Kazuyo, Zheniya, and I running all aspects of the school. It was working quite well. We managed to get through an academic audit with Languages Canada and get our licence renewed. The interim manager left us and GEOS in April 2016 when our 2nd manager came along. He was our first manager without any teaching credentials! (By rights the manager ought to be a teacher so he/she can assess and place students.) He was hired because he was a marketing major and spoke Spanish. HO is trying to secure the Latin American market. He lasted until early December then a former student became our manager, but not before he fired our replacement registrar. To this day no one really knows why he fired her. I think it was a culture conflict or even a personal conflict between them. Anyway he hired a young woman who is totally ineffectual. She has been at the job since last Fall and still has no clue. Even HO is wondering what’s up with her. She goes out of her way to avoid answering the phone, is continually texting on her cell, is clueless when asked anything by anyone, and the list goes on. I can only imagine she was hired solely because she was the only one who accepted the salary being offered. Her days are numbered since our current manager is grooming her common-law to take over. Our 3rd (and current) manager is also a marketing major who speaks Spanish and isn’t a teacher. When she became manager the teachers were again outraged. As far as they were concerned I ran the place anyway and had been doing a damn good job of it. How dare they pass me over and hire this upstart whose English is by no means flawless, who just flew in from Venezuela, and isn’t even a teacher. Actually the way it happened was questionable and it angered a lot of us – including me. Literally they called her up one morning and asked if she wanted the job. We didn’t even know the position was vacant. Manager #2 hadn’t told us he was leaving and now HO was already filling it and announcing his departure to the whole company. She accepted thinking they had asked me and I had refused. So it was a week of bitching and resentment toward her. Later it was theorized that HO hadn’t asked me because they knew I wasn’t one to follow orders blindly. 🙂 The role of AC is more important to the running of the school.
Personally, I think with her marketing skills she might turn this branch around. It’ll take time, but I think she could do it if it isn’t already too late. The winds of change are blowing in a whole new direction with GEOS. No longer are they concerned with teaching a language – they are more like a travel agency selling experiences in foreign cultures (language learning is incidental).
Like I said before, GEOS tries to cut costs every which way they can: be it not paying a competitive wage/salary to rationing staples. The head of finances paid us a visit to make sure our books were in order. She is bean counter supremo: no subs for fewer than 2 classes, the AC does all speaking assessments, teaches 2 classes, does payroll (and umpteen other things), no supplementing of transit passes, no raises, use less paper, use fewer office supplies, etc. They paid me squat for a salary and expected me to do as much as possible as AC so they didn’t have to pay another. That’s how they work – hire someone and give them the duties of 3 positions to save money. The teachers are tired of the cheapness. Two asked about raises and were blackballed. One was fired, the other had her classes reduced.
On top of that they have abandoned school policies/rules in the name of making money. No longer do we suspend or boot out truant students. We don’t deny these same students extensions for studying. Plus we don’t report them to CIC for not fulfilling their study permit obligations (something LC will ding us for). HO says it’s their money they’re wasting why should we care if they come or not just as long as they’re paid in full. Now I’m not a great lover of rules, but if you’re going to outline them and their consequences in the orientation manual you give to the students, you ought to at least follow through on them. It seems they decide, ad hoc, what rules will be enforced. This lack of enforcement is what really nailed the coffin shut. If LC gets wind of these infractions it’ll end up coming down on the person responsible for academics – me. There’s no way I’m going to be the fall guy for them. At some point Languages Canada is going to find out what has been/is going on and…
In late January I was contacted by Columbia College. I had applied for a job there in 2013, before GEOS hired me. They were looking for a temp to take over the evening LINC listening and speaking class. LINC was my first ever teaching job back when we lived in Prince George. It has changed a lot since then and I wasn’t up on the latest techniques, but I decided to go for an interview anyway. I got the job and started teaching M/W evenings 6.30-9.00 Feb. 6th. I was doing it for a lark. I could get some PBLA training and CLB experience. I could use these to maybe get an “in” into another institution. I didn’t think it would actually turn into anything.
I’m really enjoying it and want to transition to there. I get paid any training course I need and the students are motivated – they’re mostly Syrian refugees. It pays more per hour than my salaried job at GEOS, but I have fewer hours (at least to start). The current contract ends on March 29th. After that future classes were unknown (until this evening). The government really drags its feet when it comes to doling out funds. In the meantime, the head of the department asked if I could do subbing for the ESL department. Of course this would cause a scheduling conflict with GEOS. I was having trouble trying to decide whether to quit GEOS or somehow continue moonlighting. That’s where fate (or destiny/karma) stepped in.
I texted Simon that I might have to hand in my notice sooner because of the subbing gigs coming up. Unfortunately, I sent it to my manager and not to Simon. 😀 Oooops! Of course, I hadn’t told the manager about Columbia College so it was all a surprise to her. I knew then I had no choice but to resign. I couldn’t turn back. The teachers were all thrilled. They’ve been wondering when I’ll called it quits. GEOS seems to be on a downward slope and it was nowhere for a young, qualified person to be. It turns our another teacher has applied to Columbia and a second one is interested in relocating there too. They joked of a mass exodus of teachers soon. My last day is April 7.
I got an email this evening saying the college got their funding and the classes will continue next term. Assignments will be emailed soon and then I’ll know what I’ll be teaching starting in April.