I miss going to The Strand, the store with 18 miles of books. I miss walking and smoking by the Hudson, strolling into Chelsea galleries on a whim. I miss exploring the community gardens and street art of the Lower East Side, witnessing the struggle against gentrification. I never got to wrap yarn around the fences… I miss the small playhouses and underground comedy clubs, the well-deserved nights of good times and fun. These nights were so rare for me that they never lost their charm or magic.
I miss taking long walks in the spring, carrying nothing at all, my skirt billowing in the breeze. I miss sitting in front of Alumni Hall, sketching in the sun with a mug of hot tea by my side. I miss visiting the Barney building just to indulge in its comforting atmosphere and pleasing red-and-ivory color scheme. In the 2nd floor women’s room, there is a sunny stall missing a swinging door. The window opens all the way, so you can stick your head out and look down 9th St, my favorite street in Manhattan.
I’m pretty much set on not renewing my contract next year. And here’s why:
1. I’m not appreciated at my school. I work harder than any other teacher here. I’m pretty sure i’m the only one who brings work home everyday and never gets enough sleep. I spend countless hours planning and editing lessons to continually challenge my students while taking into account their varied abilities and interests. More importantly, i teach because it’s always been my dream to teach. I love what i do, and i’m grateful that i was given this opportunity. Teaching is emotional for me. Whatever happens at school can make or break my day; so much of my emotional well-being depends on how i do at my job. And when you are this dedicated to your work but no one recognizes it, it just hurts. My coworkers have no regard for my schedule and workload. They keep piling on more work for me (unrelated to my classes) because they know how hard-working i am and that i wouldn’t refuse.
2. This job is becoming meaningless for me. I realized last night that i’m a trainer, not a teacher. How do people teach EFL? I hate not being able to talk about open-ended, thought-provoking topics with my students. I hate that it’s a struggle just to get them to understand me. I hate that i can’t communicate with them on an intellectual level. I hate that they can’t express to me everything that they want. It hurts to see them give up (i know how it feels). I hate that they feel dumb because they can’t communicate with me, and i hate that i can’t help them improve. Why are they not improving? I want to teach them about the world, other people, other ways of thinking, other possibilities, but my role is to train them in a foreign language, which considerably limits how much you can do with any given topic. I’m obviously failing at improving their English, so i feel like all i do is train them in responsibility. And that’s exactly what i resolved to never do as a teacher. I learned in my Youth Media class that schools are designed to produce working citizens, and that this can have a hazardous effect on a child’s personal growth. I’m at a loss as to what to do. I think i’ve reached this point because it’s all i can do, but i should stop. But then how else would i grade? I don’t like to take too many points away for bad English, because if their English is bad, that’s my fault. When they don’t follow instructions, however, i penalize them, but i’m starting to think i shouldn’t. All i’m doing is training them to not make mistakes in the future and to follow instructions whether they like them or not, and that’s not healthy. It might help them in the workplace, but it’s not healthy for their creative development.