Friday, February 5, 2010

Yes, I would like some cheese with this

The new semester's started and I. Am. Not. Happy. Our enrollment has grown from 77 to 94 and that's necessitated more work for the teachers, five classes each rather than four. That in itself is all right; actually, the way our eighth period is structured (rotating study hall-clubs-speech class), I average 5 1/3 periods of teaching every two days rather than the previous 4 2/3. No big.

However, there is only one teacher who has a day with no breaks whatsoever other than lunch. I'll sit here and hum while you guess who that is.

Have you guessed yet?

On "A" days, when we have periods 1-4 for 90 minutes each, I have English 7, English 9, lunch, English 6 (!) and American Lit Honors. If you're thinking that six hours of work a day sounds pretty good, you haven't been a teacher. Teaching... teaching well, anyway... is exhausting, and having four 90-minutes classes is much more so than having eight 45-minute classes. (Back in the States, my standard work day was six 45-minute classes.)

On "B" days (periods 5-8), all I have is creative writing for middle-school students, and that's first thing in the morning. That means that two "B" days out of three, I have five and a half hours straight for planning, grading, etc. On the third "B" day, I still have four hours in a row.

Ideal, right? How little you know me.

I am totally incapable of focusing on work for that long without a break. I need to work an hour, take a break for 15 minutes (or 15 hours), and go back to work. There is going to be so much wasted time. Why, I might :: koff :: even write a blog post when I should be planning.

So, on alternating days, I'm exhausted from work and exhausted from idleness.

And then there's the so-called English 6 class. Zach (the other English teacher) and Nick (the ESL teacher)  also have classes with these kids. There are three of them; they don't belong here. They simply don't have the English skills; the two boys don't know that there is a past tense, for example, so my hopes to teach them the difference between the simple past and the past progressive are... in the past. There are other problems with them besides language, they may hear "Please turn the page", complete with gestures, three or four times before they respond, and will interrupt me in the middle of a sentence to ask where I live or whether I like soccer. It is the most enormously frustrating teaching experience I've ever had. I'm a really good English teacher but a total dunce at ESL and Special Ed.

The boss has decided, I guess, that we need the income from the new students; I know from experience that any small private school has to balance turning a profit with improving the school's image. All of us from the principal on down believe that this decision was a mistake, that making the school do things it's not designed to do will, in the long run, only hurt us.

Or, in the short run, some of us more than others.


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