Crossroads

A major decision is coming in five months.

I successfully applied to do my CELTA – the teaching qualification course run by the University of Cambridge. I submitted my pre-interview task (test of English language knowledge and demonstration of teaching skills, plus some short essays about myself and why I want to do the course), and passed my interview. The deposit (20,000 of 56,000 baht – the course fee is hefty) has been paid and all there’s left to do now is complete the pre-course task and pay the rest of the fee before 3rd October.

I’m doing the ten-week part-time course, so I will have my CELTA in December, on 9th December to be exact.

That’s when I have to make the call: move to Chiang Mai or stay in Nonthaburi for another year.

You may wonder where this came from. After all, the plan was always to go to Chiang Mai beginning of next year. So when did staying in Nonthaburi become an option?

The answer is Wall Street English.

An area manager who has enough pull to influence national-level policy has been pushing for a new position: a Coach/Teacher hybrid.

For those unfamiliar with Wall Street terminology, a Coach (what I currently am) is basically a Thai person who supports learning in the multimedia Speaking Center, manages class bookings, and teaches some support classes, while a Teacher is a native speaker of English who teaches the main assessment classes.

One of the Coaches at Pinklao center is doing her CELTA either this month or next, and the manager wanted to semi-promote her to Teacher after she obtains the qualification. So he has pushed for it, and successfully. The position is going to be pioneered by said Coach at Pinklao, with an eventual view to have one person occupying this position per center.

And I’ve been kind of chosen for WestGate, for which I’m deeply grateful. In a way this didn’t come as a surprise. From very early on in my Coaching career I was teaching special classes (which are usually taught by the Teachers). This came to be thanks to circumstances; I was covering a class for an absent Teacher and I liked it, so I asked for more classes and my manager was lovely enough to comply. Then it became a weekly thing and I’m now averaging five classes a month as opposed to other Coaches’ one or two. Some months ago my manager was promoted to area manager (there are several) and I reiterated to him and the new manager then my desire to teach. So, of all the Coaches, I have the most teaching experience at Wall Street and have been the most vocal in expressing my aspirations to become a teacher.

This led to that and a few days ago the National Service Manager came to our center and we had an hour-long chat, during which he confirmed that the position for WestGate is mine if I wish to do it after I get my CELTA in December.

Hence the crossroads.

I have to decide whether I want to move to Chiang Mai straight away, or gain teaching experience at Wall Street first. Wall Street is good because the career progression is nice to have on my CV (Coach to Mentor – to Coach again – to semi-Teacher in two years), and it’s a familiar and supportive environment for me to try my hand at a new thing. But at the same time I’ve reached saturation point as a Coach and half of my time will be spent doing Coaching tasks. Plus, I’ll have to work full-time, which will make it quite tough to keep up with subtitles translation work and writing – my life’s true callings.

But Chiang Mai – even though I made up my mind months ago to move there – is still a scary thought. I’ve lived alone before, abroad no less, but this is a new beginning and beginnings are usually scary – diving headfirst into the unknown. The good thing about Chiang Mai is that I will be in a new environment, have a fresh start. I also think I’ll start to relish the independence and freedom within the first few weeks of being there. And I’ve always liked being in the city; the pace of life there is slower, more pleasant.

Of course, I won’t make my decision now. There are various as-yet unknown factors to consider. Whether I have a job waiting for me in Chiang Mai (through my connections I may be able to get a job as a fully fledged teacher at an alternative or international school). Whether I find a nice place to live there. How I feel about the Coach/Teacher position come December. What the salary will be.

But five months isn’t a long time, and the decision is fast approaching.

I’m not complaining though. It’s better to have options than to have none at all. In the meantime I’ll try not to stress about it by focusing on the tasks at hand. I have a handful of things to juggle at the moment.

Let me leave you with a quote today:

Life is a series of decisions. There is no right or wrong, just what you choose to or not to do.

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