Friday, May 27, 2005

Hols continued

While having a few beers with Smileroid yesterday evening, he told me about his encounter with Bossman on Wednesday when asking for holiday time. It went like this:

SR: ‘I’d like to put in for holiday time in for Christmas.’
BM: ‘No problem, as long as it works around MrTeacher’s.’ [BM knows I take time off at the end of every year to search for the sun.]
SR: ‘I’d like three weeks off at the end of the year.’
BM: ‘You’ve got it. I’ll write it on the calendar and nobody else will be able to have time off then….
SR: ‘Cheers.’
BM: ‘….except MrT.’
SR: ‘What?’
BM: ‘Smileroid, that’s a path you don’t want to go down.’
SR: ‘Okay. As long as I have my time.’
BM: ‘You do.’

I almost died laughing when SR told me. He also informed me that New Girl is going to talk to BM about the unfairness of our holiday system (first come, first serve).

The word daft comes to mind yet again.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

When there's nothing left to complain about…

We had a waste of time teachers’ meeting yesterday and the subject of holidays came up. Pompous Ponce and New Girl have a habit of complaining about me always being on hols, so of course my name was brought into it. The fact is that I know when our national holidays are and schedule my hols during those times so that I can save holiday time (if they were smart enough to look at any calendar in this country, they’d know when our holidays were too). I’ve explained this to them, as have Smileroid and Young Secretary, but they still constantly complain about it.

The conversation went like this:
New Girl: ‘You can’t keep taking hols on our long weekends. It’s not fair.’
MrT: ‘I turned in my holiday request form on 10 January [the first day of school after Christmas break] and it was approved. I’m not changing my plans for you.’
NG: ‘I wasn’t even f******g working here then!’ [knickers in a twist tone]
MrT: ‘I really don’t care. It’s not my problem.’

I had expected this to happen and was prepared to carry it a bit further. Just before we got off the subject of hols, I said to Bossman, ‘We were told to prepare for this meeting so here’s a list of days holiday I’d like for 2006.’ He and Bosswoman laughed.

New Girl was absolutely gobsmacked.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Name New Girl

It's time to choose a permanent nickname for New Girl, so once again I'm turning to you to decide. What's she like? Unfortunately, this post is still very accurate.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Showdown with the culprit

Since most of my colleagues were up in arms about not being provided any information about my classes while I was on hols, I decided to go straight to the cause of it yesterday.

MrT: ‘Bossman, what ever happened to the email I sent you before my hols with lesson plans and other info for my subs?’
BM: ‘I read it.’
MrT: ‘Did you print it out and leave it in the inboxes of those that needed to know?’
BM: ‘No, but I passed on the info.’
New Girl (who just happened to be in the office doing something else and overheard us): ‘I wasn’t told anything.’
BM: ‘Ummm’
NG: ‘No one said anything to me at all and that caused problems.’
BM: ‘Oh well.’ *walks away*
Young Secretary: ‘You should have known nothing would get done if you sent it to him.’
MrT: ‘Yes, but I hoped that something would have gotten done. That’s the way it should work.’
YS: ‘But it doesn’t.’

So much for being the optimist.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

New horizons in daftness

The materials I use for each of my classes are listed on the log for each class, as they’re supposed to be. One of my classes finished Book X in April and we moved onto Book Y the following week. When transferring data from the old log to the new, Young Secretary (quite clearly) crossed out the name of Book X and wrote the name of Book Y. Easy, right? Not at my school.

Smileriod had to teach that class while I was on hols. He panicked due to the fact that he couldn’t find the old book. Apparently, he was too daft to see that it had been crossed out and the name of the new book, of which two copies were sitting on the shelf in the teachers’ room, had been written in. So, he convinced Bossman to find his spare key and OPEN MY LOCKER to look for the old book! I was quite shocked to find this out.

There’s nothing in my locker that shouldn’t be there (mostly my private teaching materials) and granted, it is technically BM’s locker since he owns the school (so I have no problem with him looking in it whenever he wants), but still. Just because of SR’s daftness? Not to mention the fact that I had actually talked to SR about the class he’d be teaching before I went on hols, including showing him the (new) book and telling him where we had left off!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Thank you very much to those who guestblogged for me while I was away.

A new record?

I was wondering how long it’d be before there was a ‘situation’ at work again, and I do believe that we’ve broken a new record. The day before my first day back, I was walking to my local and ran into New Girl. She complained that I had left without getting any information to her about the classes of mine that she had to substitute for while I was on hols. She was far from happy with me.

The day before I left, I emailed lesson plans for my classes including important details (which materials we use, classroom numbers, etc) to Bossman and the office (Young Secretary or Secretary from Hell receive the office’s email).

It’s quite amusing seeing people get their knickers in a twist with me for something that’s not even close to being my fault.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Musings On A School System

A good teacher is difficult to find (in Canada anyway). This is the result of a combination of the decision-makers being more interested in administration than education, and the low availability of competent persons.

Most of the persons who have the authority to make decisions seem more interested in ensuring they have a "baby-sitter" for their classroom than ensuring that they have someone who is qualified to teach and explain a subject to a group of 30-40 kids. I have a friend who has been "in the teaching game" for a year, and has been asked to teach classes for which she is not qualified. The decision-makers seem to think that teaching means being able to verbally and animately present material which is in books while keeping the peace in the classroom. The concept of facilitating the understanding and retaining of information is somewhat foreign to the decision-makers.

And, of course, this isn't helped by the fact that very few teachers (and persons in general) are competent. Petty ones like the few with whom MrT works are just scary, because it makes me wonder how much of that pettiness seeps into their teaching. I've had teachers who unknowingly rip the self-confidence of a child to shreds, and should not be excused because it was unintentional (and rather should be criticized for their lack of sensitivity to the needs of a child). I would not trust a child to be taught by any one of the women with whom I work (and who are also mothers), and I'm sure their counterparts are lurking in classrooms.

What's unfortunate is we can't afford to take out of taxes the amount of money required to make the decision-makers care or the teachers competent.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A postcard from warm-and-sunny-place.

Having a splendid time. Enjoying lots of sightseeing, great weather, beach time and sitting out for meals and drinks. Reckon I'd be a great beach bum. Don't miss the-country-that-won't-be-named at all.

Four days of hols left.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

This was a very trying week at the after school program. If it could be summed up with two words, the first would be "yelling" and the second would be "basketball".

See, I run this program for kids who need after school care. I have twenty three of them who fly off the school bus every day and hang out in our centre which is essentially one very large room with a bathroom and a kitchen. When they arrive at 3:30 PM, they haven't eaten since lunch which takes place, mystifyingly, at 11 AM. They've been sitting in desks all day. So naturally, there is a lot of wired, kid-energy flying off the school buses with them.

I am supposedly "in control" of this program. This means I get to decide what's for snack and I help the kids work through their conflicts without killing each other and I have the authority to tell them For the love of God, do not play that Good Charlotte song ANY MORE! But there are lots of things that just happen at the program that seem to be beyond my control.

Basketballs, for example.

We once had one basketball. Sometimes we would haul out our not-very-tall basketball net and let them shoot hoops in one corner of the room. This spring basketball has become the hottest thing to do if you're a 6-11 year old, so we've had the basketball net out for weeks. What I didn't know was that apparently basketballs are single celled organisms that can reproduce asexually when left overnight in a darkened supply closet. As a result of this binary fission, our current number of basketballs in the program sits at approximately 12. And yes, they use them all at once. There are times when there seem to be more basketballs in the air than there are children on the ground. Miraculously, no one has broken anyone else's nose. I suspect this is because they know that the result of such an injury would certainly be NO. MORE. BASKETBALL.

And the yelling. Oh, the yelling. The elapsed time between a disagreement being recognized and said disagreement erupting into a screaming match seems to be about seven seconds. It usually happens between children, but occasionally the kids do start yelling at us. One child in particular had a very bad week this week and one of his three major tantrums resulted in this exchange.


me: I'm not harassing you, I'm just talking to you.


me: No, that's not true. Shall we look up "harass" in the dictionary so you can see the real meaning of the word?

kid: AAAAAARRRGH!!!! (walls himself into the playhouse by using every pillow we have in the program to block the door.)

He came out later when snack was served.


Guest Blogging

This feels like someone has handed over the keys to their apartment and expects me to make sure the plants and goldfish are still living when they return. I mean, it's a responsibility right? And I should probably find something witty or intelligent to say to uphold the quality of this blog and bla bla bla.


Anyone who trusts me to keep their plants and goldfish alive is just asking for a load of waffle.

So, let's waffle about teaching. Mr T is a 'real' teacher. I teach in Tokyo in a language school. Well, a 'conversation' school really. By 'teach' the job is more about entertaining. Whether I'm faced with a 2.5 year old kid (yes, Japanese parents do send their teeny tiny's to face big white foreigners) or a bored housewife I am expected to entertain. I'm also expected to know about the Japanese economy, J-Pop and pretty much everything else. I have to think on my feet. My ability to mime what I mean and my drawings - well, 6 year olds no longer laugh at how bad they are - are coming on brilliantly. Although to draw someone drowning someone else and have cries of 'cute, cute' ("kawai-iiiii, kawai-iiiiiii") shouted out are somewhat worrying. I have classes of between 1 and 5 students and some lessons can be painful.

Japanese know everything there is to know about grammar - except how to use it. They can tell you which tense is which and recite useless waffle they've learned in school - but most of them cannot use it. They can't put a proper sentence together, and ask your average Japanese student to imagine something - phew.... NO CHANCE. As one student put it once, " I cannot imagination."

The students are a mix between those forced to come and those who really want to be there. For some it's a passion, for others a hobby, and for yet others a necessity. Then you get some who the time they spend with you each week is the only time they get to themselves....

So, in short, I have great respect for 'real' teachers, in 'real' schools, with 'real' students.


Failed Protege

I almost became a teacher myself. Well, actually, I had (have?) many people in my life who wanted (want?) me to be a teacher. I however, knew that I could tutor and help, but not teach.

For my senior years of high school, I was enrolled at a semi-private school. This was quite nice because it was a very small school with very cool teachers. The teachers and students had a different rapport than what was had in most schools---it was like in those cheesy 90s television shows in which the teachers actually cared about their students, and the students could communicate with the teachers as equals rather than as subordinates.

I was very well liked by the teachers at that school because I was what most persons expect from an Asian girl whose first language is English: quiet, polite, studious, and literate. Many of the teachers were nearing retirement during my years there, and I think they were hoping that I would be one of their successors. I wanted very much to be a writer (and sometimes still do), and didn't have much interest in teaching. But my teachers were very quietly nudging me towards post-secondary schools with good education programs, just so my option was there incase I changed my mind.

I wouldn't make a very good teacher because my thoughts can't be organized well verbally, and because I wouldn't be able to handle most types of students. I look too young to be taken seriously by anyone older than 10, and would be too stressed by the fear of permanently "breaking" a child either emotionally or intellectually.

The sad thing is I would probably be a much better teacher than some of the teachers out there. It's a good thing we have people like MrT to "balance things out" (although, no, we shouldn't have any of the incompetent teachers to balance-out).

Friday, May 06, 2005

Oh Lordy-Lord.

This election thingumybob has totally cast me astray - nay, yonder over the highest peaks of Belgium which is curiously strange as I don't understand politeex. Well, no surprise there, but I was watching the elections last night until the early hours of the morning when I had to drag a drunken Quarsan to bed, not to get my wicked way, you understand, but to pass out. And that is exactly what I did, not being the young, spring chicken that I used to be, despite my glorious looks.

Politeex astray, I awoke at around 2pm, missed both of my daughters leaving - one for school and the other for her beau whilst Todd tried his damned to let him leave too. No way, José. [He didn't get that bit.]

So this is a bit of a very disjointed post until I get some further sleep and can find some suitable material that MrT would approve of. At the moment he has shunned me into the 'dunce' corner.

Respect for your elders, if you please.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Sorted, kind of.

Bosswoman talked to Pompous Ponce last Tuesday. According to her, he spun a bit of the blame back on me (not unexpected from him) and is not going to apologise (both of which I’m not all that happy about), however she’s requested that we both consider the situation over and move on. I’m willing to do that.

PP has been very respectful towards his colleagues (including me) since then, so having BW interfere was worth it. Actually, he hasn’t said a word to me that was unrelated to work since their chat.

I’m enjoying the silence.

This is my last post before my hols, I'll be back in mid-May. I've asked a few guest bloggers to fill in during my absence.