Hey there. I've posted three times, and nothing has gone through, so I'll keep this one short.
Well, I've been (trying) to teach for about ten years now. I keep getting warning letters telling me that it is none of my business what my coworkers are doing in their classrooms. Hmm.... I also get similar letters at the same time telling me that I treat the students like children. Hmm.......
Well, WHEN do I get these letters? Let me tell you about the last time. I came to school thirty minutes early to set up the room. At that school, we had our own room, and the students travelled between rooms. I put up new essays from the reading class on the wall (third drafts), arranged the chairs, there seemed to always be one missing, woke up, prepared for the classes of the day (I had five), and welcomed incoming students. At nine (when school started) I was in class, ready to go. I was doing a review from the day before (this was Listening/Speaking class). I had put pictures on the board that went along with the concept in the book for that week's lesson. (over zealous, or just like doing a good job?)
However, the class next door was exceedingly loud. I keep the door open here in California schools as the buildings are a closed environment, and the filters are not regularly cleaned...Anyway, I knew that the coworker wasn't in the class, as he was 10-15 minutes late to all his classes every day. So, I just popped over and said "hey guys, let me just close the door here." That encouraged them to be even more loud (an 18-year old Saudi boy was the star of the show of a class of 15). One of my students gave me a dirty look, got up and closed my door. I said, "sorry, you know....fresh air." When she sat down, the class next door literally banged on the wall. Her head was next to it, and she looked at me again and said "can't you do something?" (Actually, she didn't have that knowledge of the modals at that stage, what she really said was "really, you must do something, Brad.")
So, I evidently don't have social skills. I went up to the manager (you could hear that class all the way up the hallway) to say "hey, uh, there isn't a teacher in the room next to us, and the class is going nuts." Guess who was there? The teacher. What was he doing? Teaching the manager Chinese. (He was going out with the Japanese and Chinese students to a bar on Fridays). I sat down, listening to the noise down the hall.
Finally, as it was now about 9:13, the manager said, "Yes, do you have a question?" You see, I wasn't photocopying, I was sitting there. I guess, I should have pretended to be there for a different reason? Social skills. So, I said, "yes, I want to know why there isn't a teacher in the class next to mine because it's going crazy. One of my students sent me up here....can't you hear it?" Hmm...now that I'm typing this....................but then again, I've tried to talk to managers when such teachers aren't around, they always seem to find how who tattled on them.....tattle tell tattle tell, narc.......etc.....who's a child?
So, she told me to get to class. I did because, well, I had a lesson plan to cover. So, of course, at the end of the day came the letter. Don't manage the other teachers. Check your job description. They have their own style.
Well, he was kind of a punk who only had three months experience teaching in China. I had ten years, and an M.A. in Applied Linguistics. The manager knew this, but his words carried weight. The letter was from him, not from the manager, yet she typed it up and gave it to me. (Remember, I've worked with over 30 managers....I've gotten this letter several times).
From what I learned, there is Method, Technique and Style. Style, yes means how close/friendly you are to the students, whether you'll have sex with them, go to bars with them etc. or well, you keep the relationship student/teacher. Style, from what I know, doesn't mean you go to class late. It doesn't mean you let and 18 year old child dominate discussion of a class of 15. It doesn't mean that you have an hour of free talk while you look through U-Tube on your Ipad, and then spend ten minutes flying through the book, saying number one is A, number two is B....etc. (That to me is not teaching, not even professional really).
What I learned, is that in class, a teacher has control of the material. That means that they know what is to be taught/learned at a certain level, and they choose techniques that will achieve that goal. Free talk...free talk? What is the goal there? Socialization, connections, friendship, love, but vocabulary and grammar? So, I place students with different partners throughout the week, I monitor them to make sure they are on task. If the material is the present continuous, and the topic is sports, I make sure that the partner isn't talking about their last party with my coworker, or their weekend plans, or their country's food. There will be a chapter where they will be able to talk about those things. Yet, I am charged with being a micromanager, and treating them like a child. Social skills? I just don't get it. From my DEGREE to teach ESL, I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. From my PROFESSIONALISM, I am in class when I am supposed to be. I follow the dress code. I DO NOT blend the line between student and teacher.
Why is it that I get the warning letters/fired, and these people just continue to let the students do what they want? What am I doing wrong? I want to teach, I do teach. I understand that three teachers teach a level, and that it's basically an assembly line, so when a coworker doesn't pull his/her own weight, the students don't learn what they are supposed to and thus are set up for failure at higher levels. Not to mention that when you go out with students they don't even bother to read the evaluation questions, they automatically give you the highest scores. (Social skills, or cheating?) Isn't it the business of ALL the teachers in the same level to communicate to each other, and about students' levels, attitudes, progress etc.? Why am I told to "teach my own class"? I mean, I know when the teacher next door is cussing in the class because the students start cussing in my class--to my face. Uh.....if I tell them it isn't appropriate, I'm treating them like a child, my evals go down, they become passive aggressive, my coworker retaliates with more childish behavior like taking chairs out of the room, making their coworkers a conversation topic in their classes etc. (social skills?)
By the way, I've worked with dozens of teachers, I don't have "problems, " (what's it they say, "personal conflicts") with 90 percent of them. However, when you only have seven levels, you're going to have to work with one of these manipulative people. I don't get it. I think I'm right. I don't treat the students like children, I treat them like students. I feel that the other "teacher" is their friend and equal, rather than an authority figure. While at the same time condoning and encouraging their "immature" behavior, coming late, writing on walls, leaving class whenever they feel like it, ignoring the teacher, talking on the phone in class, going off topic etc. they are telling me that the students are adults, so they can make their own decisions. I don't know, it just seems like a cop out. I mean, when I tell a student to not write on the walls or draw on the desks, am I treating them like a child? When I ask them to ask for permission to leave the classroom, am I treating them like a child, or am I just trying to make sure that their partner has the chance to talk for the activity?
In any case, I sure am tired of getting the same accusations given to me after a confrontation with these people. So, the issues are: Coming to class on time, does it undermine your coworker by reliquishing control of the class to a student. (They call it "student centered" by the way.......). Isn't it my business that they are pushing social relationships and connections onto the client because I have to teach the same client. Isn't it my financial business because the company is paying upwards to a 3,000 dollar US. bonus to that teacher per year (because he wasn't even in class, or on school property) while not having any money to give me a holiday bonus while I came early and stayed late? Does monitoring students to keep them on task really equal treating them like a child? Am I really an arrogant person that sticks his nose into other people's business, or am I having discipline problems that don't exsist when I teach with teacher A, but am constantly struggling to have students pay attention to me when I teach with teacher B? (Oh, yeah, they say I'm a Narcisist, and I want to be mister popular). Seriously, I know this sounds bitter. BELIEVE me--am I bitter! However, this is my chosen profession, and when I'm with the right teachers, my (and their) evals are super high, and more importantly, the students make real progress.
So, if you can give me some real advice about what I'm doing wrong. I want to continue teaching, but I can't take the negativity anymore. I think it's tragic that someone has a talent, the education, the experience and the desire to do their job, but they are constantly foiled by, well, bullies. You know, I sure don't want to hear more of the same about micromanaging, treating people like children etc. So, if you could just tell me how it is that these people are able to manipulate the management and client into saying those things to me, I'd greatly appreciate it. I am serious about asking for help. I'm sorry about the punctuation!
That was short? Holy Muckfay Batman! I'd hate to see long.
Hey. Yeah, I know about the length. I just wanted there to not be any room for questions about what happens. I'm sorry to see that no one has really replied. I'm not trying to be a jerk. I'm looking for advice. In fact, did I come off as a jerk? Is the fact that it is so long causing me trouble? Actually, when I talk to the manager, I lay things out like that. Does that give them too much to absorb? Am I in the wrong forum? Am I just wrong about my assumptions?
I really miss teaching, but I know that if I can't fix things, I'll just have to leave again. I'm moving to another state, so I packed up my boxes. I had so many thank you cards saying what a great teacher I was. I mean, I was counting them to try and give me solace. I lost count after 311. I know I can teach well, but for some reason I keep causing problems. I'm very serious about someone helping me with these issues. I really love being in the classroom. I hope to teach again in my new location. Do you think that it would help if I were a head teacher? Do I just lack simple social skills? I hope that it isn't that. However, if it is, I'll make it my number one priority. Please give me some advice.
Thank you for your help,
30 managers in 10 years is a lot; I started teaching in the early 1980s and I haven't had that many. When you went to see the manager to complain about the empty room and the noise, and this would be annoying, you might have thought that the manager knew the teacher wasn't in class and was OK with that. This may seem unprofessional to you, but it might have been better if you had just asked if he or she could let xxxx get into class asap as they were making a bit of a row, rather than getting confrontational when both people were already involved in creating the noise that was ruining your class. Imagine that the manager's feeling a bit guilty because they're doing some Chinese and then you say "I want to know why there isn't a teacher in the class next to mine because it's going crazy." There's not much room for manoeuvre or a climbdown there. There might be if you said something like, "I was wondering whether I could borrow xxxx for his other class, the English one, as they're kicking off a bit."