Friday, June 17, 2011

point of contention

Today was the first 'normal' staff meeting we have had since the school term started in May. I say 'normal' because we have had other meetings, but not on a Friday afternoon as is the standard in that place. Therefore it is safe to say that my mood is shitty.
For the month of May, there was industrial action by members of staff (of course that does not include yours truly, since I join no union and make no demands. My salary is enough, as far as I am concerned, for my educational level) every Friday afternoon. I got so used to going home early, or otherwise enjoying my Friday afternoon.
Then there was the mosquito problem in June. Now, I know we live in the tropics and mosquitoes are an issue in the wet season, but OMG WTF! It was ridiculous! Swarms of them everywhere. The ministry of education dispatched people to spray the compound several times before the problem was controlled. We lost a considerable amount of time though, having to stay away from the place as it was a health hazard, and as a result, the attention spans of the students dwindled to dust.
Now, as the term is coming to an end (FINAL-FRIGGIN-LY), we are rushing to get everything under control with students who DGAF, and why should they? Today they got to dress up (the school's over here are uniformed) to win tickets to a party the students are throwing at the end of the term. It doesn't help that the parents of some students are asking for monthly progress reports as 'some teachers in other schools do it'.
Now, allow me to put things in a little bit of perspective. I have a few hang-ups on this:
1) I taught close to 150 boys this year. That number is expected to increase next year. I have no teaching assistants or aides. I am the new girl who got thrown in the deep end without being trained to swim.
2) Of the 6 classes I teach, there are 5 year groups. I have to run and mark labs for assessment to the CXC examining body for 4 of the years. This means I spend most of time organising, planning, supervising and correcting labs.
3) Each of the 6 classes must have coursework assessments during the term - these are therefore marked. Mid-terms in that school is not in a particular time frame. The coursework assignments and tests are constant during the term.
4) Each year group must have an end-of-term exam, I prepare 3 of those each term.
5) Students give hell to hand in their labs (we LITERALLY have to threaten and beg), and even their report books at the start of the term. I hardly think they would bring back the progress reports signed by their parents with any more ease.

It is my view that the parents who demand the reports really need to realise that while they are at work, their minds are on their work. When they are at home, their minds are on their children. When I am at work, my mind is on their children for the FULL 7-8 hours that I am there, and when I am at home, I want nothing to do with them. My job is not parenting. If I wanted to do that, I would have had children!

Sometimes I really wonder why I took this job and if the experience and skills that I am learning is worth the never-ending frustration.

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