Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A crayon?

I think I am officially all ESLed out. I can't even believe I've lasted as long as I have. Here are some fine examples of crap I've been dealing with.

I work two days a week at a hakwon. In only two and a half months, I have seen a huge improvement in a lot of my student's English, or at least their motivation to learn it. I'm seeing kids use the vocabulary I'm teaching, sometimes even idioms, and saying they like my class. This is a lot, because these students had a terrible teacher before me (she was a Korean English teacher who conducted the entire class in Korean), and they are some of the lowest level students I've ever taught. I'm doing the best I can with what I have (bosses refused to buy me certain materials I have asked for, like CDs and flashcards), and it's paying off. Do you think that's enough for my bosses? Of course not. I should use a crayon to draw a big circle on their pages -- not a pen. I should come in early to teach the students who were absent last class (for free, of course). I should only give high marks on reports, even if the student can't spell his name.

This isn't new to me, but even after so many years here, it's still shocking. And it's wearing me down. My bosses aren't bad people, but their inability to see my students' improvements and the importance of them is really frustrating. Why even bother?

Publishers. I'm currently working with two Korean publishers, E and D. I keep accepting this work because I keep trying to convince myself that it's good work. Yeah, it's flexible. But I end up doing this work late at night because I truly don't have a lot of time to do it, even when Grace is in daycare. When she's in daycare, and I'm at home, there is laundry to be done, the apartment to clean, shopping to do, and food to cook. I really don't have much time to write, like I did before I had a baby.

But that's my problem. The other problem is somem of the people I work with. When they send me revisions, it would help a lot if I could understand them. I just got a bunch of feedback from D publisher and I swear, I do not understand what this person is talking about in many of her comments about my writing. Her English doesn't seem to be good enough to be supervising the writing of ESL coursebooks. And the sample she gave me was a piece of garbage. Oh, so there are two activities per page, rather than one? That's a big freaking difference you're telling me now right after I've signed and sent you the contract. I just sent her an email with a hint of snark...but she probably won't pick up on that, anyway.

Same with E publisher. The sample they went me was "missing" some scripts that need to be written every unit. I love it. Her revision of the first unit was full of "Sorry, my sample wasn't so good. This one needs another dialogue." Cute.

So, I'm in bad mood. My kid got me up at 5:00 a.m. this morning and seems to be getting another cold. I dragged myself into work today with a sandwich and coffee I picked up on the way, and received a call from my boss at 1:25 (which I didn't answer). I'm usually early to work, but I'm always there on time (by 1:30). I arrive to find a bunch of kids from different classes in my classroom and I'm supposed to catch them up because they were absent. I was pissed. They told me to be to work by 1:30 so that I could clean my classroom (yes, I have to vacuum and mop my classroom), sit through a pointless meeting, and start teaching at 2:20. No problem, but that's supposed to be prep time (and also eat my lunch time).

I think I've reached the point of "no more." I'm not going to quit my jobs now, but after these current books are done, I'm going to need a bit of a break, as stress levels are rising a little too high. Ah, I should have been writing some listening dialogues instead of writing this post, but screw it. I'm going to lay in bed with The Toddler Whisperer and rest up, for I fear I will be keeping Grace home from daycare tomorrow due to her cold. And then I'll be even more behind.

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