Cram school again, thanks for hearing me out


I’ve done a lot of thinking and soul-searching about this matter.  You asked me, what’s really bugging me about the job, and what can I do to change it?  I don’t have any solutions yet, but I’ve narrowed the problems down to three main issues:

1.  As I have already mentioned to you, quitting is not an option.  Doing so would seriously damage the reputation of the school.  Hence I feel pressured and put upon.  The bosses and staff are doing everything in their power to soothe and appease me (well, reinforcing the doors would be a good start).   They don’t want me to quit.  And I don’t want to let them down.  Let’s just say that right now, quitting is not an option.   That makes me feel trapped.

2.  In total, I have 50 kids there.  Roughly half of them are private school and the other half are public.  Reconciling the level gap between them – and it’s a substantial one – is hard work for me.  Put it this way: with the private school first-graders, I can immediately start with teaching them simple phrases and basic abstract concepts, because almost all of them have at least a couple of years of cram school under their belts, not to mention several overseas trips.  However, with the public school kids, I have to spend months actually teaching them to sit still and concentrate for five minutes at a time.  Then?  We finally start with the alphabet.  You see what I mean?  I have a mix of all these kids in the same classes, and I’m expected to use the same textbooks for them all.

3.  The biggest and most pressing problem is simply an architectural one: I have to share a floor with several other teachers and classes, and our rooms are separated only by thin plywood walls.  The other teachers are mainly interns (student teachers from a local uni, average age 20) and they are not good at handling the kids.  Some of the time – well actually most of the time – they completely lose control of their classes.  The noise level is horrific.  I find this deeply stressful, hence the hissyfits and the slammed/broken (crappy plywood) doors.  Unfortunately this particular problem is the least likely to be solved, without major renovations taking place.  But for me, it’s a big problem.  It’s the real reason I’m so stressed and unhappy there.

Thanks for all and any input.


6 comments on “Cram school again, thanks for hearing me out

  1. Karen says:

    First, if possible, the classes need to be separated. The advanced kids in their own class, the public school in another. Or, if not possible, let the advanced kids “mentor” the public school kids. It’s amazing what kids can teach each other. And they listen to each other better. It may surprise you what the advanced kids learn by having to tutor the public school kids. As to the interns, perhaps you could tutor them on how to retain control of their students. There are some tricks of the trade and I’ll bet you know all of them. As to the thin walls, some quick fixes might be just adding a layer of unfinished sheet rock, or even hanging some thick, lined or thermal lined curtains. Anything to reduce the noise.

  2. Petra says:

    I agree with Karen. My first thought was “separate the classes.” If your school is resisting this, let them know that by using something like the “mentor system” the level of learning will eventually go up, which will lead to more positive mouth-to-mouth propaganda by the parents, which will lead to more pupils being enrolled, leading to more profit for the school… Dangle in front of their eyes what they like – money – mo’ money… *

    If you, as a professional, have this problem with your class, how must it be for the interns? So, again, I go with Karen – tutor them on how to handle kids AND introduce the same “mentor system’ in their classes.

    Maybe then the noise level drops so much that no costly noise reduction measures are needed and no more doors get broken by you in your very understandable frustration about this situation.

    * And have them pay you for your consulting! If they get it for free, they won’t appreciate it. It’s like with medicine – it has to be nasty-tasting to really work. 🙂

  3. Miko says:

    Thanks for your comments, they are very helpful. I will talk to my boss about it. I would like to ask the interns to find the time to sit in on my classes to learn how to handle the kids (I’ll disguise it as free English lessons if I have to). And the brighter kids might be very eager to be of assistance, I’ll talk to them tonight.

    Those doors must be from IKEA.

  4. Miko says:

    Here’s what my boss had to say: “Forget about the dumb kids. Concentrate on the smart ones.” (Gee, what a charmer.)

  5. Karen says:

    If that’s their attitude, why are you so keen to stay. Start your own damned school.

  6. Miko says:

    And add to my workload! No thanks. But I’m keeping it in mind for a retirement project. Seriously.

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