Thursday, September 29, 2011

School

It's been a long time since I wrote about what I do here exactly. I've talked about teachers and students but not exactly about what I do in the school.

For the first year and some, up until this summer, I was a teacher (or "educational specialist," as the government-issued certification of expertise asserts). My students ranged from three years old to adult. I was also the director of English Program, an hour-a-week class for the Eastern teachers: grammar, Chinglish, culture, etc. During this time, I wasn't a manager, but in this kind of work, the turnover is ridiculous. Even if people finish their contracts—which, Jesus, you might be amazed by the number who don't (then again, if you were here and saw how difficult it is for some people to adapt, maybe you wouldn't)—they're usually here for only a year. I've seen threeish different Western staffs blow through, and of course I helped the newer staff after I myself bungled through my first months (I told my friend yesterday, "If I can't do something on my own now, I'm an idiot," although there's still a lot I can't do, natch). So if you've been here for any length of time—like two years and some to others' not even two weeks, say—you fill an advisory role almost in spite of your best efforts. I found myself doing managerial things without really having any title. It was just a small company, and the staff was constantly new. My mantra was "I just want to teach."

But this past summer I got promoted. I'm the director of education, which means I write curriculum and schedules, serve as a cultural advisor, train the staff, sit in on people's classes, and advise the teachers on classroom management and techniques. There are other duties too, but those are the main ones. And of course, I still have classes—right now as many as everybody else, but after the holiday, I'll have fewer so I can focus on my other work (though I must say that I'd rather be in class than do the other things that go into running a school).

As I've said before, I haven't had much time lately to do much outside of school. Personal time is at a premium now, but I'm hoping that all changes with this new schedule. Since September 9, I've been outlining new stories and working on some poems. It'd be nice to get something sent out in the next couple months.

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