I wanted to provide a bit of insight for any teachers considering Ivy after completing a year’s contract with the school.
First off, I will say that management is very good in that they are not out to rip you off and you will be paid on time. The school is fair and Mei (Director) is lovely and will go out of her way to make sure you are comfortable. I’ve previously worked in Taipei and Seoul and the apartment I was provided with here was spacious and clean – well above my expectations.
Jiamusi itself is not a major city. There is no Starbucks but you can still get a decent cup of coffee at a bakery or coffee shop (if that is of importance to you). Taxis are cheap (starting rate 6 yuan) and there are plenty of shops around. I was worried about surviving the winter over here being an Aussie and all but the apartment was always warm.
One thing I will mention that was a bit of an unpleasant surprise:
I assumed there would always be enough minimum teaching hours to make up the monthly salary rate stated in my contract right from the word go. However, I soon found out that the hours can vary (mostly dependent on the middle school schedule) and each month became a counting game to see if I would work and earn above or below the minimum amount. This mattered to me as I’d chosen the job with set financial goals in mind to meet. So this might not be an issue for everyone depending on your situation but it is something to keep in mind (my financial goals were set pretty high…)
When I first arrived, I was a little disappointed to discover there weren’t a lot of teaching resources e.g. flashcards! so we set about making some for two of the main books used in the school. I would say that any teacher that arrives at Ivy now has a lot more resources to draw from due to the combined efforts of the current teachers.
The teaching assistants are great. Expect to discuss your lesson plans with them prior to class though in the beginning. Yes, all teachers must have a lesson plan for each class – it’s not expected you will just rock up and wing it.
I have to say I've learned a lot this past year, mostly to do with making powerpoint presentations for the middle school classes and using a smartboard - both things I’d never had to rely on previously. All in all, I’m a better ESL teacher for my year at Ivy.