Yesterday I had two interviews on Skype. The first was with a school in Saudi Arabia. Yeah, it sounds a bit scary to live in a place that’s so restrictive to women, but a friend here who’s Saudi convinced me to check this out. This university is in Jedda which has better weather than Riyadh I’m told and it’s not far to freer countries like Bahrain.
I had my computer set up well ahead of time, which was good because they called 45 minutes early. While I was on video, I couldn’t see my interviewer. I could only see a hot pink background screen. The whole thing sort of made my head spin. I talked to a pink voice, which was very crisp and to the point. She asked me about my background, my age, and how I’d handle mixed classes and poor attendance. It was all very bang, bang, bang. Let’s go. She did ask if I had any questions and I asked about class size, the background of the university and the size of the school. I was going to ask about the curriculum and texts used, but she cut me off saying the interview was over. Sixteen minutes to decide if I’d be a good fit. Not a lot of time to make a major decision – for me at least.
In the middle of the interview it sounded like a bunch of kids entered the room and started throwing toys around. The woman kind of snapped at me saying, “We can’t hear you.” Well, of course not given the racket that’s going on over there. The whole thing was rather odd.
Later I had an interview with a woman in the US, who works for a high school in Beijing. This was a lot more leisurely and informative. It’s one of these super schools that prep kids for school in the Ivy League (or wherever they can get in). The school uses a lot of apps and is big on tablet use. Their curriculum seems to need some fleshing out and it sounds like all the teachers are quite young. Some are teaching through Teach for America, which I thought was designed to serve the poor, not affluent princelings. (In other words they don’t want to pay mid-career salaries, such as what I quoted.) I’d like to see if I can impress them and get them to pay more. This may be futile, but the woman was knowledgeable and nice. (Though so were the people at XJ, which proved to be an impossible school that even the most patient people, like my friend Spurgeon, flee.) I’m close enough to Beijing to go for an interview, if they agree to pay, as the woman I spoke with thought they would be.
I’m interested, but also cautious. I’m unwilling to teach for a song. The salary I quoted is fair and is less than a calculus teacher makes – so that’s enough of a concession.