Monday, January 28, 2013
From My UAE Journal: October 15, 2012
Every day that I go to work things become "curiouser and curiouser". Yesterday all the students were suddenly released to go home at twelve thirty because at the last minute the principal decided to cater in lunch for the teachers. Lunch was over by 1:50 and then everyone left.
Fifth session today, I was about ten minutes into my lesson with my 10th grade girls when an Arabic teacher came to the door. In halting English she informed me that I had to take all of my students and leave the room because workmen were coming in to paint the classroom NOW.
I located to another room, where it took a little over ten minutes to get my girls quieted down and on task again. If I had know earlier that workmen were going to paint the room I would have prearranged to have the girls meet me in another classroom to begin with, and invaluable instruction time wouldn't have been lost. However, it didn't occur to any of the staff or administration to put me in the so called loop. And I really don't even know if there is a loop.
Then, in seventh period, the 10th grade girls didn't show up for class by the time the bell rang at 12:45. I waited five more minutes and they still didn't show up. Ten minutes after class was supposed to have started, a few of the girls trickled in and informed me that the nurse needed them to help her with a bulletin board. I told the girls no and before I could react or stop them, they hurriedly left to retrieve the rest of the class from the nurse's office. Ten minutes later the last of the girls finally arrived followed by the nurse. She marched into the class, and in front of the girls told me she wanted the girls to basically skip my class so they could help her with a bulletin board. I told her that I was trying to teach and that I had already lost Thursday and Sunday's instruction days because school had been dismissed early, and that I was four days behind schedule. She looked at me and asked, "So, they come to me?" I wanted to throttle her, and I basically had to sit on my hands so I wouldn't wrap my hands around her throat. VERY SLOWLY I told her I needed the students and that their learning was important. She still insisted that the girls be allowed to go with her. She said, "Only twenty minutes". I pointed to my watch and said, " Only twenty five minutes left in this period". She still stood there expectantly. I finally said, "Why don't they go help you eighth period?" I was still trying to be polite and smooth over the situation, but she wasn't taking the hint. One of the students piped up, "Oh, that is computer class and the computer teacher won't let us". I said, "Well, I won't either". The nurse finally waddled her big ass out of my classroom and I barely managed to work in ten minutes worth of teaching before the bell rang.
One of the communication barriers between the Western teachers and the Arabic teachers is that the Western teachers (I am guilty as charged) need to stop being polite and "Just say no". The Arabic culture does not take to subtle or not so subtle hints we Westerners attempt to sugar coat in order to convey "No" in a polite manner. We should not sugar coat, because the Arabs do not understand this concept. When they have to say "No" to someone, they say "Insh'allah", and that saves them the arduous, unpleasant task of having to find a polite way of saying "No", so they aren't skilled in this type of communication beating-around-the-bush. I have got to learn to be more assertive and "Just say no" in a firm decisive manner. Either way, I am not going to be popular or liked, so I might as well accept it, find my inner assertive person, and make things easier on myself.
One of the American teachers coined the phrase "Insh'allah'ed" today. As in, "I was Insh'allah'ed right up the ass and they didn't even use Vaseline". That about sums up the way I feel right now.
Posted by Liti