Well intentioned but inevitably bad advice litters the Internet probably no place more than in the TEFL world.
DO YOUR RESEARCH! people often yell.
But, but, but . . . who should you ask?
I don’t know.
Following is a point a reader sent to us:
Get a Notarized Contract from the Owner of the School
A popular new notion floating around the Internet is that you should NEVER take a job until the owner of a school has signed your contract and their signature has been notarized. The thinking is that this could or would avoid working for a school that does not honor its commitments.
Now this seems like a good idea. But if you are the only person a school has wanted to hire to make such a demand, are they not going to be worried that you are some sort of a problem? That there may be legal issues at hand if they take a risk with you? Do you think they will actually do this for you? For how many jobs will you be sent away before you change your demands?
The other problem with this idea is that even if it did make sure you connected with the owner, that doesn’t mean s/he is going to follow through on whatever they have signed and it is almost never financially productive to try to seek legal redress in a country that is not your own. Better to negotiate a resolution or just get out of the deal as best you can. Why would getting something “notarized” mean anything to such an owner. Nortaries aren’t common or even available at all in many countries.
I’ve seen people spend years trying to recover amounts of money that were far less than what they ended up paying their attorney. These people often just end up bitter and waste life’s precious time trying to prove a point. Yeah, you got burned. Move on. I got burned twice, but I moved on both times (it was two in row!). Now . . . maybe I was just a patsy, a pushover? But those were my first two TEFL jobs and I ended up making a great life out of it.
I believe in making a point and in doing things correctly. But I also feel that life is too short to spend years chasing my own tail. I’m not saying no one has ever benefitted from such action. I’ve just never seen it.
TED’s Tips™ #1: Life is full of problems. They can happen anywhere and they do happen everywhere. When you run into these problems, assess the amount of energy and emotional baggage that it will take to focus on them versus moving on. Will that focus take your energy away from your other goals in life?
For one of my two bad situations when I started out, I got out of a school that had bailed out of EFL (it was a Japanese language school that wanted to move into English and they didn’t get rich right away like they thought they would) and landed another job pending placement at a college. While I worked at that temporary placement I was consistently shorted a relatively small amount of money each pay day. I asked about and tried to resolve it, but I knew I was moving on shortly anyway.
I don’t hold a grudge against either of these places. Whatever they do is their karma. It would not have been worth the time, emotion, money or energy to try to seek financial recompense from either school. So I just let it go.
There kinds of decsions are highly personal, but I daily make an effort to keep my life positive and focused on positive things. It works for me.