Friday, February 25, 2011

Drama at Colegio.

This is how about half of my classes work: I take the lower-level students for a half hour while the other English Auxiliar, Carlos, takes the advanced group. At the end of the half hour the regular English teacher takes over my group and I take over with the advanced group. It was sort of nice in the beginning when I was afraid of being in a classroom for anything longer than a 30 minute period (or any length of time, to be honest). Now it's nice because it means I get to work with everyone in the class and since it's just half the class at a time, we get more done.

Lately there have been some problems with Carlos, though, who's actually not a native English speaker but has a son at the school and a wife on the PTA. Problems like criticizing one of the teachers in front of her students, resulting in her tears in the supply room later that day. She's a first year teacher and aside from the criticisms he also made some comment that made it clear he held her youth against her. There have actually been issues between him and all the other English teachers with whom he works. They tell me about it and I also get stories from students, but aside from advising them to lay down the law, I've not been directly involved. The whole assertion thing here is actually something that is really strange to me. I don't know if it's just the personality of these women or if it's cultural or if I'm just way outside the norm in any country in my inclination to speak up to d-bags, but none of them were doing anything.

Anyway, all this came to a head this past week when Carlos decided to administer exams to his students. This is actually not supposed to happen because a.) he's an Auxiliar, b.) the regular English teachers told him so. So finally they decided to tell him he was being too tough on the kids (Exhibit A: the students I've seen drying their tears following his lessons). Depending on who he spoke to, though, he would say it was the other English teacher who had asked him to make tests. Also he wouldn't have to correct them all the time if it weren't for ME. Apparently he told Rosa that the reason they make grammar mistakes must be that I've taught them something wrong. It can't be that they're Spanish and speaking a foreign language or anything. No, it's Megan, the only native English speaker in the school who is to blame for the fact that the students have trouble remembering the difference between the pronouns 'he' and 'she'.

Then on Wednesday he ran the whole hour giving his exam and I didn't get my lesson with the students. At the end of the day he apologized and said, "Maybe so that doesn't happen I should just consider myself an assistant, like you. And then even if I haven't finished I can stop and let you have the half hour." Carlos, you are an assistant. You work at the school 12 hours a week, and you're only with students for the first half of those hours. And your students have told me personally that they're going to fail exams on purpose so they won't have the advanced classes with you. His face was marked by a look of faux-generosity as he waited expectantly for me to tell him it didn't matter, he could take as long as he needed even if it meant I didn't get to teach. I didn't of course, just agreed with him: yes, good idea, act like you're a lowly assistant like me and pretend that your half hour is not the only valuable one.

At this point we'd reached the end of the hallway and were having some difficulty maneuvering through the entire class of E.S.O 3, which I later learned had stormed the headmaster's office in order to protest Carlos.

The next morning Rosa told me Carlos had told her I got mad at him. This is bizarre to me because I didn't even say anything to him besides agree that he should end the hour on time. Yes I realize it would have been more convenient for him if I'd just waved off his suggestion, but at the time I'd figured my grievances with him were minor compared to those of others and if the other English teachers didn't want to rock the boat than I should follow suit.

Anyway, I know the other teachers staged some sort of stern talking to Carlos regarding his classes, but I have yet to hear all the details or what I've been implicated for this time. Pronouns? Anger? Misuse of the Xerox machine?

In other news I just checked my email and have a job offer in Mexico! Cute little fifth grade rugrats! I'm still trying to figure all this job business out for next year because I'm pretty sure I want to go somewhere new, but still trying to work out where. Yesterday I talked to a friend I met in Israel who is from Uruguay, and he said he'd bring my resume in to the school where his sister works and that he thinks I could get a job there. Ever since I saw it on the Amazing Race I've wanted to go there and see that giant hand sculpture that's supposed to look like someone drowning and sticking his hand up above the water in a last desperate call for help.

Should I be concerned about that?

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