I have been staying later after school preparing for the next day but mostly talking to another teacher who sat in the teachers room calling the parents and i had realised i am substituting a teacher, i am not the teacher , i am not getting paid like the regular teacher, i am getting paid less, the children do not seem to appreciate how much effort i make, and then comes this guide and tells me not to give lessons to the class but give them work but the photocopying machine was always out of order since the other teachers were photocopying massive amounts of paper. The children were learning a lot, it seemed but i did not think the quantity of the pages meant quality. The children did not seem interested in learning English and it felt like shoving English down their throats. I did not really feel any enthusiasm, and even as i struggled to get the pupils to talk, i was told to just give them sheets to fill in and to test them all the time. I was given orders and i was to obey, so i tried to give them tests but none of the other English teachers really helped. One teacher tried to help but then she talked about her family and her grandchildren and she seemed to want contact but she never accepted my offer to go to hear a lecture at the museum or just get a coffee, she just wanted to stay in school and that was her whole life and her family. My life was not about my family, my children live abroad and i had had to let them go and be their own people, though i keep contact and write, i feel the distance, and i know it is not the same as having a family or friends you meet. I got attached to the pupils but they act out, they test my limits instead of me testing theirs.I have no cooperation with the other English teachers at all, the principal ignores my emails so when i had an ear ache i decided to finally go see the doctor , he wrote me two sick days, and i thought about how i need this time to think about my life and how much i felt swallowed by school and i did not feel that my work was being done, i did not think that i was effective, and after one pupil threw a paper ball at my head, i had realised, the English teacher i am substituting will be back in two months and the impact i have made upon these children’s lives is limited. I am not getting paid well, i am getting less pay than the other teachers even though they probably can not speak English without making errors and they struggle to teach a language they have never lived or experienced on a deep level, for them to teach English is like teaching Math, test, test, test, and the children are like monkeys that have to perform. I realise that teaching is a very frustrating field, and when i heard a teacher scream at the pupils, i realised i was like in a prison, and the children were like prisoners and i thought that there are other schools, other pupils, and that however tough this has been so far, however disappointing, i tried , but i dont want to put in so much energy and get back so little. I want to teach, i really do but not pupils who can not sit still, who eat and use the phone when i teach, pupils whom i have to struggle with to get basic respect and then i had realised something very important; the pupils need to be motivated to learn and they are not motivated to learn at all. I think English is important but the pupils do not, they do not want to get out of their comfort zone. I don’t understand how they all have phones when they are supposed to be poor and struggling and come from large families, it is not a very wealthy country , and so i wonder, how do they afford the latest mobile phones , and i wonder why the principal allows them to do what they want and then tell me it is 90 percent the responsibility of the teacher.
Some of the children are immature, they are not grown up enough to take responsibility and i don’t have any motivation to teach them when they don’t want to learn. I realise i will from now on give them work sheets and show them what to do and then i will stay to prepare the next day but then i will not invest so much and i will try to have my own personal life and not let teaching swallow me up like a whale but i realise it is very difficult to say how much effort to make when you have to move an elephant, a huge elephant up the hill, this is what teaching English in this chaotic school feels like. I think the principal has a personality disorder, whenever he talks , he talks about his agenda and does not care how others feel, he preaches and talks and does not listen and maybe this is why i have ear pain because i am tired of listening to other people and not being listened to, not being heard at all.
Some of the teachers are very dedicated but they have professional training certificates which i had failed to complete after completing two academic degrees and i have been distracting with what i do not have instead of focusing on what i have .
I have myself and my dogs, and my children are far away and i don’t really have anything but now and listening to the rain or the wind is what i want to hear, i dont want to hear the screaming of children, the cursing of children, the screaming of teachers, i want silence, i want just to hear small sounds and more than anything i want to hear birds.
Maybe i will feel differently once i am back in school, but i am trying not to get too attached, knowing i will be leaving, it is a good exercise because my whole life i have spent suffering from being too attached, too committed to people who were not attached or commited to me, and now it is time to make space, to create distance and not to get attached to anyone too much because like George Harrison sings; “Everything must pass” and i am in the most temporary zone, seeing now beyond the illusion of attachments, that i must let go in order to be free and i must be free in order to live happy, i must be allowed to run like the dogs, sometimes, and when i do go to teach, i must give just a little and see what i get back , not too much, i have to dance a dance of not too much, just the right steps , and not expect anything back but what the pupils are able to give, not miracles, just very small baby steps towards completing a mission i must clarify to myself before i expect others to understand.
The big questions will just have to be postponed again, what am i doing here? what is my purpose? I have to work and this is the only work i know how to do and even this work i do not always know what to do, i am alone in this work, alone , alone in this life, but i am also able to work alone , i have made it this far and i can make it without the illusion of friends and colleagues and maybe this is what i want, this silence, this distance, this space.