By Sheree Hooker, private school teacher in Wuhan
The branch of the organisation I worked for was one of the bigger ones in Wuhan, located in Wuchang. This meant that we had a high number of foreign teachers in comparison to other private schools in the area. At my time of joining the school, there were ten Foreign Teachers including myself. Of these ten teachers, there was a Senior Teacher and a Director of Studies. There were also groups of Course Consultants and Progress Advisors, with all of us falling under the jurisdiction of the Centre Manager.
Course Consultants (CC)
There were a group of three Course Consultants working at my school. They were responsible for selling programs to parents and arranging promotional activities to draw in business. One of the main selling points of my school was the use of open door demo classes for prospective students. In these activities, a foreign teacher and a local teacher would do a sample lesson for both students and their parents to encourage them to enrol at the school.
Progress Advisors (PA)
The Progress Advisors are local staff whose main job is to liaise between the teachers and the student’s parents. They help to facilitate parent-teacher consultations and are also the people that collate feedback about the courses. At the end of every textbook, teachers are required to put on a final demo. This is essentially an open-door class at the end of the unit where parents can see the progress made by the pupils. There is also a graduation ceremony and certificate presentation incorporated in this class. It is the PA’s that are responsible for arranging this with the parents.
Centre Manager (CM)
The Centre Manager is usually a Chinese member of staff that is responsible for the overall running of the school. Generally, their role focuses more on the financial and marketing side of things whereas the Director of Studies has control over the academic requirements.
Local Teachers (LT)
There were five local teachers working at my school which is half the number of the foreign teachers. The reason for this uneven balance in numbers is because demand is higher for foreign educators. For younger classes and those with a lower ability, they are co-taught with a local teacher. Generally, the role of the LT is to bridge the language gap and enforce discipline when necessary. As the ability of students increases, classes are split between Local and Foreign Teachers, both of which are taught independently of each other. When the students reach around 9/10 years old (dependent on ability) all of their classes will be taught solely by a Foreign Teacher.
Senior Teacher (ST)
Our centre had one Senior Teacher who acted as a mentor for others. The Senior Teacher would help train you up on your arrival and allow you to observe their classes. This person usually becomes your first port of call to work through any issues and is essentially your main link with the management team. They also participate in the recruitment of other Foreign Teachers and play a part in Skype interviews. Primarily, they are the main point of contact for other teachers and their main job is to ensure that you feel supported in your role.
Director of Studies (DOS)
The Director of Studies is the equivalent of a head teacher in a private institution. The DOS is responsible for scheduling the classes, leading in-house training opportunities, reviewing teachers progress and development as well as taking the lead in recruitment alongside the Senior Teacher. The DOS is always a long-standing Foreign Teacher who has been with the company for some time and risen up through the ranks. Whilst the DOS does teach their own classes, their timetable is reduced to allow for their other responsibilities. At the end of your contract, there will be an opportunity to review your progress and potentially negotiate a fur