Tuesday, January 22, 2013
From My UAE Journal: November 11, 2012
Weird things at school: finding a handwritten note on my desk written totally in Arabic when I came into work today. The note is supposedly from the principal about keeping our desk areas clean. All the teachers in the teacher staff room got one. So, the principal hand wrote the same note ten times? And in a blue highlighter pen?
My desk area is clean, thankyouverymuch.
All ten teachers' desks are in a circle in the staff room. I don’t have my own classroom so all my belongings are crammed into a 1 foot by 2 foot locker, three small drawers at my desk, and the rest I carry around in my Mary Poppins bag. Leila, the Arabic EMT, is not here today, so I can’t get the principal's handwritten note translated until she gets back. I have pieced together a bit of what it says through hand gestures and one word answers from the Arabic teachers who don’t speak English. Kind of like playing charades. Maybe if the Cycle 3 EMTs actually had a place to keep our resources, I wouldn't be taking this so personally.
My desk on the upper left end.. (bag and green lidded cup). I have one of the little lockers too..
I asked the vice principal today if Tara (the other high school EMT) and I could have a small closet sized room off the staff room to put the Cycle 3 resources. She said she’d talk to the principal when the principal gets back tomorrow and let me know. I am thinking the answer is going to be “no”. When they dismantled the old EMT resource room soon after our arrival it sent a clear message that we are not thought of as important to the education and culture of this school as the other teachers. I don’t even know where all the English resources that were in that room went.. It is now a room for the Arabic teachers who don't want to be around the other Arabic teachers. Maybe it’s a class thing, country of origin thing. I really can't figure out the pecking order and little groups here, in much the same way groups back in high school confused me. And the OTHER Arabic teachers' staff room is nice and clean, isn’t infested by these nasty black flies that dive bomb us all the time, and has the best furniture and desks. Kind of makes me angry, but if I could just get a room, no matter how small, in which to store resources that Tara and I can share, I would be happy. We have an “English Club” classroom where the 8th and 9th grade teachers teach, but it is not always available, and it is always locked and I have to chase someone down to get the key. So storage there would be haphazard, at best.
Thursday I only had ninth period for about 14 minutes before classes were dismissed because the buses were here.. waiting to see what happens today.
Every week two Arabic teachers ask me to take their 8th or 9th period classes. EVERY week. Today one of the two asked me to take her 9th period tomorrow, so I told her I had to go see about transferring my electricity, but if she’d take my 9th today, that I’d be more than happy to take hers tomorrow. At first she acted like she didn't understand what I was saying, the she tried to wiggle out by saying, “I not know if girls have work with them today”. I told her to let me know by noon today if she wanted to evenly trade 9th periods, but I haven’t heard anything from of her and it’s almost 1 p.m. Most of the Arabic teachers just don’t want to stay that late (3 p.m,) so every week they try to slough their classes off onto Tara and me. I’m not playing that game anymore. I am going to have an appointment every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from now on. The schedule says that I have 8th and 9th periods on Sunday and Thursdays, and those are the ones I am going to teach..
Also today: My 11th grade class was interrupted two times by a KG (4 year old) boy. He stood outside my door and cried loudly. The girls went to the door and tried to comfort him and then brought him into the class. I asked where he belonged, and the girls said, “He wants his sister”. I again asked where he belonged and was told “KG” room”, which is downstairs. This little guy had been roaming the upstairs halls for about fifteen minutes. One of the girls took him next door to where his sister was supposed to be in the other 11th grade room, but then ten minutes later he was back again. This time I told the girls to finish their work and I went in search of the KG teacher. I found her (an American) and she was so exasperated. She said she knew the kid was AWOL but when she asked her Arabic co –teacher to go get the boy when he ran out, the Arabic teacher refused. The KG teacher couldn’t just leave the other students in the care of the Arabic teacher because said Arabic teacher also has a habit of disappearing at a moment's notice. The KG teacher ducked out of her class long enough to run up to my class and physically pick the child up while he kicked and cried. She had to bodily carry him out of the room. The EMTs are the only ones who supervise these children or enforce any rules, and sooner or later the Western teachers get tired of being the only ones who seem to care about where the children actually are. We try, but it feels like we are beating our heads against a wall.
Hall where little KG boy was wandering..
And I get so tired of the black flies. The Arabic teachers come into the room and leave the door wide ass open. The door opens to the outside overlooking the courtyard, and the flies come into the room and literally kamikaze us. I shut the door, an Arabic teacher walks in and leaves the door open, I shut the door, another Arabic teacher comes in and leaves the door open. I mean, come on. But they seem not to notice the flies. I don’t get it. It has almost become a test of wills between me and the Arabic teachers over the damned door.
The Arabic teachers come onto the staff room and talk and chat very loudly. I mean SO LOUD that one day two of them almost got into a fight and I didn't know it because my back was turned. Sounded like normal everyday staff room conversation to me until I turned around and saw one teacher standing between two yelling, screaming pissed off teachers. They were trying to physically attack one another. One of them walked out and the other trailed behind her yelling and ranting. I left the staff room on my way to my class and saw where the yelling teacher had the other backed up against the whiteboard in front of an entire classroom full of students. She was snapping like a rabid chihuahua. Later I told the Arabic English teacher that back in the states this type of behavior between teachers would have been grounds for suspension, or worse, and she was genuinely shocked by this information.
I am also admittedly a mite confused by the fact that the Arabic teachers don’t work on “work” at all; they sip tea and try to out talk one another. It gets so loud in here (I am writing this in the staff room while they "converse") that sometimes I get a ripping headache and I rarely get headaches. So any “work” in this room is out of the question. I write a lot and attempt to shut the noise out, but sometimes even that is out of the question, like right now.
Lo and behold, the bell for 7th period dismissal rang 20 minutes early. The girls got up, put on their abayas (that is a sure sign they are heading for the bus) and left the building. I didn't try and stop them They would have just said, "We go now, Miss" and I would have been searching for a reason, an explanation, anything. The entire school was empty in fifteen minutes.
I packed my bag and left too. I am beginning to understand the "No Rules" rules. Rule #1: There are no rules.
Day by day, it becomes more and more apparent that I have surely slipped down the rabbit hole.
Posted by Liti