Finding employment is not a problem for me. It’s keeping it that is. I have a degree in Education with endorsements in both English and Spanish and a specialty in English as a Second Language (ESL). As it’s currently hip to say that a school is ‘bilingual’, I have more than enough job offers every year. It’s the keeping employment that seems to be the problem.
I started at a bilingual kindergarten just 6 months after we arrived. I didn’t feel ready to jump right in there with both feet, however, my husband thought it would be best that I work while he built our house. Another perk was our then 4-year-old son would be able to attend the same school, introducing him to this new culture while allowing him to have his mommy as a teacher for part of the day. I taught 2 groups of 20 students ages 4 and 5 and let me tell you, it was exhausting.
Don’t get me wrong, I was up to the teaching part. I had all of our son’s age appropriate toys and activities to work with. It was the other adults that made it so tiring.
I was expected to be the classroom teacher, lunch supervisor, traditional Mexican dance instructor (like I even knew a traditional Mexican dance to teach) gym teacher, music teacher, art teacher (although what the owner really wanted was for me to do the artwork and have the kids just sign their names) singing coach, special event decorator and janitor, all without raising my voice. I did try pointing out that I was the English teacher and not trained or talented enough to complete these other roles, but then they labeled me as a complainer.
I endured, sometimes going home in tears, the entire school year, which here is from the end of August until the first week of July. It wasn’t for the pay, (a mere 2000 pesos every 2 weeks.) It wasn’t for the Christmas bonus. (which I didn’t receive not knowing enough to insist on it). It wasn’t because the kids were especially nice. (What a bunch of rich kid brats!) It wasn’t because the parents liked me, kept telling me that I needed to translate everything so that their kid would understand (So tell me what is the point of me being an English teacher?) It wasn’t because the owner liked me. (She always had something to complain about with my teaching or manner or activity or materials.) But I endured so that my husband would be free to finish our house and we could stop renting in town with its myriads of cockroaches and noise.
And I made it. I quit the last day of classes. Of course, then the owner didn’t want to pay me the last check, but I carried on a bit, pointing out that I had paid for my son for the month of July, so I was entitled to that last check and I wouldn’t demand August’s pay. And finally, I got it.
See Also: Learning and Teaching Year 1, Learning and Teaching Year 2, Learning and Teaching Year 3, Learning and Teaching Year 4, Learning and Teaching Year 5, and Authentic Teaching and Learning and me