I've been thinking for a while that it might be nice to do a "Least Favorites of Teaching" and "Favorites of Teaching" pair of posts. Teaching is obviously something I think about a lot and I definitely end up having a lot of "thoughts" about it. I thought I would start with the least favorites so that I could end on the favorites. Also, this list is specific to teaching in my specific situation right now, a.k.a. in Taiwan, for Hess, with my specific classes, at my specific branch, etc. Here goes!
- Kids who were already painfully behind when you took over the class, so much so that it seems impossible to catch them up and they're just confused and behind every class.
- The completely miserly nature of our Branch Manager. This is an entire section of my complaints, so:
* She doesn't want to buy paper, so we have to scrounge around and beg paper off the secretaries even though the lesson plan requires that we use paper.
* She doesn't want to spend money to fix the AC units, so either we shuffle around with our entire class to find a classroom with a working AC unit, we deal with an AC unit that is literally hurling out chunks of ice at us throughout class or we deal with no AC and kids constantly imploring us with, "Teacher - hot!" (hand waving at face) .
* Just yesterday I took my Jump class, which is full of kids 3 - 7 years olds, to the bathroom and discovered from my Chinese Teacher that we are no longer being provided with bathroom tissue. The kids have to either bring it from home or....do without. My poor kids had to do without yesterday - gross!
- The business nature of a buxiban (afterschool school, which is where I work). Also an entire section:
* Pleasing the parent is king, even if it means complying with policies that are actually bad for the children.
* Everyone has to get a good grade on everything, even if they couldn't have done worse, otherwise they won't want to come back.
* Three year olds are allowed in "Jump" even though it's not at all age appropriate, which makes life difficult for everyone involved - but hey! More students = more money!
* If a child is doing poorly or acting up in class you aren't supposed to tell the parent because then they might not want to come back.
* If a kid isn't doing his homework, there is nothing you can do about it.
- Any time spent out of the class is not paid, including homework / test grading, lesson planning and even orientations that require us to take a train to another city, spend our entire day sitting in a classroom and sometimes even miss a class that we WOULD have gotten paid for.
- Many times I have to completely ad lib major things in front of large amount of people, which can be quite stressful!
- It gets a bit wearing to hear, "Teacher Sheri! Teacher Sheri!" and "Teacher! Teacher! Me! Me!" etc. from 15 kids for 4 hours straight.
- This is a big one : I get really sick of trying to teach things (that are sometimes quite complicated) to a group of kids who don't speak the same language as me. It gets really exhausting to have to be in that mindset so much.
- As a side negative to the last one, my usage of "big" words, or even "medium" words in any conversation has markedly diminished after having to speak like this, "You (points to kid), eye (points to eye), here (points to me, to indicate "pay attention")" for a major part of my day. Grad school, here I come!
- Having ridiculous songs in my head aaaaaall day to the point where Tom and I pretty much speak in song.
- Often working Saturdays
- Kids who don't succeed - this can just be heartbreaking
- Having to correct the same grammar mistakes over and over and over ("They are monkeys." Not, "It is monkeys.")
- Teaching a few kids is great, teaching a lot of kids is not. Imagine teaching a primary (even Sunbeams) class with 15 kids who don't speak English.
- Kids who refuse to participate.
- Corporal punishment is still an acceptable way of disciplining here and is seen most often with the kindy kids. The kindy CTs (Chinese Teachers) are just brutal and will berate a kid (or worse) for the tiniest of infractions. It drives me nuts. I was doing just fine with this class all day while you got paid for sitting around and the only time you choose to participate is when you manhandle a kid just for not staying strictly in the line? Really? I love most of the CTs, but kindy CTs aren't my favorite.
- Ironically, on the other hand, Taiwanese parents and teachers often baby their children so much that if the kid gets a tiny cut on his/her finger the child gets fawned over, sent to the nurse and the parent gets called. Forgive the story, but, this kid in my jump class was the worst. He was this chubby little nerdy kid with big glasses. He was very sweet, but his mom was the most pronounced "helicopter" parent I've ever seen. She would warn me weekly about not doing "dangerous" activities in class because her son has glasses and he might fall and break them and hurt his eyes. The term "dangerous" referred to basically anything that required standing up. This is a two hour class with mostly 3, 4 and 5 year olds who sit on the floor (not even at desks). You really want me to try to keep them sitting for 2 hours? One day we decided to play a "game" where the kids hold hands and slowly walk in a circle singing the ABC song. Dangerous, I know. One of the three year olds had been sitting down because she was sick. She suddenly decided she wanted to play and ran headfirst into the circle of kids (as 3 year olds do). In the process, she knocked said boy down and fell down herself. She got right back up and continued bouncing around as if nothing had happened. The other kid (who fell on his BUM) started crying hysterically and his mother (who waited outside the classroom all class long, each class) rushed in and swooped him out of class. They were never to be seen again. Sweet kid, but good riddance!
Well, I know there's more, but I'll cap it there! I realized as I was writing this that it's a hugely negative post. Maybe I shouldn't post it, but instead I'll just say that honestly, I like teaching! For all the negatives there are a whole bunch of positives too. I'll just make sure I get the "positive" post posted soon. And, honestly, most of these negatives also have a funny side to them, so I hope you enjoyed how ridiculous my job can be sometimes. Also, sorry for the lack of pictures recently. After getting all caught up, pictures-wise, I have a lot of pent up thoughts. Also, I have pictures that could have gone along with this post, but I'm not allowed to share them.
Stay in tuned for the good side of teaching! I've actually already started it and it's making me smile!