I can’t remember the last time I cried because of an actual problem. I cry often–from laughing too hard or from squeeing too hard or from overall excitement for events.
But today was just too much.
I fail just about every day. By fail I mean a foreign teacher, korean teacher, or CS team or Director runs in and says “why didn’t you call Eric at 2:20!!!??” or “why didn’t you send me a picture of your heater now the repairman won’t be able to fix it and you’re going to have to pay for it!” or “why have you only done half the pages you were supposed to do this entire semester!”
These kinds of fails.
For instance, today I walked into work and I was told that Kevin’s mom waited next to the phone for an hour waiting for my phone call. I looked at my list and told my co-teacher that Kevin was one of the ones who didn’t pick up. We discussed it and realized that I had called the wrong Kevin.
Shortly thereafter I heard the Korean teachers talking about “speechis”. Yesterday I realized that I had forgotten to give one of the classes their “speeches” which are just paragraphs from their books that they have to memorize and recite to me every week. I have to make them and cut them up and give them out for them to glue in their homework diary. I have 5 classes old enough for speeches and I remembered all the others. But I guess I had forgot–the same class that missed Kevin happens to be in.
And then in daily staff meeting I zoned out while Director was speaking to the Korean teachers in Korean and I guess she started speaking in English at some point and she says, “Mallory you should take note you will not remember everything I say.”
This is a daily occurrence. To name a few other fails I’ve had the past two months–forgetting to print another teacher’s flashcards, printing out the wrong flashcards completely,scolded for having to run back to the room for a new marker, markers exploding on me, letting my Ninas draw on the board when they are done with class, an angry call from a mother because I moved her child when she was talking too much, not circling pages, not taking attendance correctly, not checking homework completely, not fixing a Navi girl’s grammar, not telling Director about that one time Cherry kicked Kevin (number 2) making him cry, using red pen to write children’s names, not writing on the board neatly, not writing out the full answer on the board, letting Aiden leave class too much, giving the students too good scores, giving the students too bad scores, not getting book reports back on time, not encouraging students to do more book reports, not entering the book reports into the computer correctly, not checking my memos, being late for my back-to-back class (even though I can’t leave till my co-teacher arrives), being gone too long for lunch. Those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.
Usually it’s just one a day, which I can handle. I accept them. I call myself an idiot. I apologize. And I don’t do them again.
But three in a day is a lot.
Still though. I had to get through this day. There are no substitutes. I have to do it and I had to smile while doing it.
About 30 minutes before class started, Director came in the office and asked the other two foreign teachers if they would like “tea time” with her and apparently they left to go have tea.
HT then said that she had met with Director for a long time yesterday and Director wanted me to meet with HT about things. I could tell she wasn’t too excited about it, which is never a good sign. Mostly everyone had gone out to lunch and I was like, “should I come sit at your desk?” and she said, “no let’s go to another room.”
She then proceeded for the next 20 minutes to tell me in the nicest, kindest, most apologetic way possible…that I was a complete failure. Reaffirming what I actually thought about myself even though I’ve tried to hide it with optimism.
I don’t really know why but I just started crying. I mean, I do know why, because no one wants to have their deepest fears and worries noticed by others, but still I don’t usually react that way to these things. It’s not like it’s the first time I’ve sucked at something.
She was just reiterating what Director had told her and then she started crying too remembering her first months here and saying that she was the same way and that the other foreign teachers were the same way too and we’ve all made mistakes and that I’m still new and that she still makes mistakes she even made one today. And then she went to go get the toilet paper box that sits outside for both of us.
Her only consolation was that no one wanted me fired–that I guess the foreign teacher I replaced was actually ‘forcefully sent away’ because no one, not even the Korean teachers, liked her. No, she said I was well liked and that they’ve had horrible teachers in the past and that I wasn’t one of them. She just said that I really needed to talk to Director. That having a little meeting with her with fix a lot of things.
Unfortunately there was only 10 minutes until school started and even more unfortunately I was wearing my new mascara from Etude House that isn’t waterproof and was now all gone. I went into the bathroom to take deep breaths and wipe my face and put on a smile on go to my first class.
While I said I was happy in class, I always do, I think they could tell I wasn’t. My first class was Key, the youngest, alphabet-learning, 6 years old, level. It started with just one student–Eileen–and has now grown to 6. Eileen and I had one-on-one sessions for a while though so we’re close. She finished an exercise early and when I went to circle her paper she looked at me with the biggest eyes and gave me some chocolate. Now, I’ve talked about sharing before. The good kids will just toss stuff in my bucket as I walk by, but most kids will give me a one second head’s up “HERE TEACHER” before throwing it at me. But, call me crazy, the way she looked at me when she gave it was like “you look like you need this.” Then I was in the middle of introducing vocabulary and she suddenly reached into her backpack, pulled out a bag of candy and handed me a gummy in front of everyone. No one bothered her about it either as I took it because it was almost like they understood.
The rest of the day was fine. No problems. Mystery farted really loudly in class and I was just going to ignore it but then he goes, “teacher that was me” and started laughing which made me laugh really hard because I’m five years old.
Thankfully everyone answered their phone today so I won’t have to worry about rescheduling. And then I went out to talk to Director. She was talking to one of the front desk women though so I waited outside her office and I started to get a little worried because I didn’t know what I was supposed to say and or what she was going to say. One of the Korean teachers, Jessica, came up to me and I guess she could tell something was off too because she asked if I had any Korean friends and she said no. She said that I ever needed someone I could talk to her privately. I could ask her for any help about anything and it didn’t have to be work related. She said she lived in Australia for 2 years and she knew how hard it was to be somewhere without knowing the language. Then I started crying again and I don’t even know why but she nodded and understood and got me the same box of toilet paper without any judgment. She said she goes home and cries to her family often, even though she’s been here for 4 years.
This did not put me in a good emotional state for talking to Director. We sat down and I was already tearing up for no reason at all and she said, “HT told me that she talked to you and you cried.”
She got up and got me a cup of water and pulled out a roll of toilet paper from under her desk because I’m guessing she deals with a lot of emotional people.
I told her that I’m not trying to hide problems from her or be sneaky or anything like that. It’s just that I am a very independent person and if I cause a problem I fix it. Asking someone else to fix it seems lazy and immature to me. Especially Director who has so many problems already. The fact that I forgot one class’ speeches this week is fixed by the fact that it won’t happen again. And I’m rescheduling all the missed phone calls. And it’s nothing personal I just figured she wouldn’t care. Maybe it’s my mormon-ness where problems are solved from the bottom up. You bring your problems to the people who it directly relates to and solve it with those people so that the higher ups can deal with the higher problems.
Or maybe it’s just me.
She said that makes sense, but our campus is special. She is being flown out to Japan by Avalon with other top campus Directors because of our enrollment rate. She said that she cares about the details. That she knows who is saying bad words to who on the bus. That she checks the CCTV bi-weekly and goes through the students’ books frequently. That she can’t know everything about everyone, but she wishes she could so she could help.
She said this all very nicely and non-demeaning and her eyes were a little glassy because I could only nod my head pathetically.
She said that in the first month, Sohee Teacher came in crying many times. And that she herself was a teacher and knew what it was like. She said that I had potential and knew I could/would be a good teacher soon.
So it wasn’t even a bad conversation I was just overwhelmed with feelings. I wouldn’t say I’ve been holding in my feelings and they all came out, as people say. No, for me it’s more like they’ve been swirling all around like a swarm of fruit flies on a hot day and I’ve just been swatting them away and finally today they landed on me and it was not fun.
BUT. Tomorrow will be better. And I have some fun plans this weekend. Just wait. It’s going to be epic.