Today’s choral contest was by far my favorite school event. There are some students who hurt my feelings and disrespect me on a regular basis, but i loved every single one of my students today. How could you not love them when they’re singing like little angels?
I know all i talk about on this blog is school now, but that’s the thing: i love school and it’s my favorite thing to talk about. This job is no doubt the toughest i have ever had. Sometimes i wanted to quit, sometimes i hated my school, but i think i’ve always secretly loved it. I get along so well with everyone and i’ve made the place my second home. I know the majority of my students—their names and class numbers—and most of the teachers in the main teachers’ office. The weekly journals were an important part of building a relationship with the students; we shared interests and food/cultural recommendations over them, and sometimes, they shared more personal things, to which i always, always replied. I’ve gotten thank you letters, and i’ve gotten hate letters. But i gave my end-of-semester speech to each of my 2nd grade classes, and they all listened attentively and thanked me in return.
2-1 wasn’t so bad at the beginning of the semester, but after i lost some students’ work, they banded together and refused to pay attention in class. I got the most negative feedback on my evaluations from this class. I really hated them at times and at one point, i came close to telling the vice principal that i refuse to teach them (before you call me crazy, the VP and i are tight, so i would’ve gotten away with this). But i forgive them now and understand that some students just hate school, and nothing’s going to change that.
2-2 was my worst class at first. They were the loudest and most difficult to control. What made it worse was that the co-teacher i teach it with didn’t know how to discipline. I was the harshest and strictest with this class, and now they’re one of my most attentive and obedient classes. Towards the end of the semester, their journals were the best. This was the only class that learned to follow all of my instructions for journals.
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.