Tag Archives: teacher

Juggling all the eggs in one basket

small-poppins

So it’s been just over a month since the beginning of the school year and my schedule has me running around like a chicken with its head cut off. This year, at the school I work at, I’ve had the owners hire a second English teacher to cover the kindergarten classes and first grade. I continue to teach second grade through sixth grade. I thought it would free up my time some so I didn’t feel like I was dying at the end of each day like last year when I taught 2 kindergarten classes and five elementary classes (I combined some of the groups into mammoth groups to accommodate the school day and my availability). However, although I’ve given up some tasks, I have taken up others.

Instead of teaching kindergarten, I designed the curriculum and textbooks that the kindergarten will be using for all 4 levels, maternal, first, second and third grade. That took more than a few hours of my already limited time. I like doing that sort of work, but it doesn’t compare to the joy of teaching the little lovely happy souls ages 2-6.

The curriculum is already in place for first grade, but it’s been challenging to bring the new teacher up to speed. She’s had more experience at teaching kindergarten than elementary and the additional requirements that come with elementary teaching include things like diagnostic tests, parent meetings, grading with numbers rather than excellent, very good, good, regular, deficient and so on and new to her. Plus, the textbook we use comes with video and computer game components and she’s not really tech savvy. I’m glad that she’s open to learning these things, but it means more work for me at the moment.

Then there’s the pay. I’ve been making less money for more work each year I work in the Mexican school system. When I started, I made 85 pesos per hour and had 8 weeks off in the summer. Now I make 70 pesos per hour and have 4 weeks off in the summer. Of course, everything else has gone up in price during that time. Tortillas used to cost 6 pesos per kilo, now they are 13 pesos per kilo. And the peso had devalued to 19 per US dollar what seems like permanently now.

I’m also supposed to get a provisional teaching license from Guanajuato. Because of all these educational reforms, I’ll need to take the official exam too. The thing is, everybody knows the system is rigged. Several teachers I know that took the exam last year and passed, this year took the same exam and didn’t. What’s up with that? The list of requirements SEP requests keeps getting longer and longer and each required document has a price. So is it really worth it when I make $68.75 USD per week?

mototeacher

Then there are my private and Saturday classes. Since I’ve been working online, I decided to only teach private classes on Wednesday and Thursday during the week. I only kept my long-term students. However, lately, students have been canceling left and right. I have 7 classes scheduled for those two days, last week, I only taught 4. The same thing happens on Saturday. I have 4 scheduled for Saturdays, last week I only taught 1. If I were depending on these “regular” classes for my weekly income, we’d surely starve to death. Not to mention I haven’t raised my prices since I started. I still only charge $50 pesos per class, per student, per hour. That’s $2.64 USD per hour.

Camille Online

You might think that my online classes are my salvation. After all, they pay in US dollars. However, I’ve had internet connection issues this month. One day, my internet dropped just for a minute. I was able to return to the class, but my audio wasn’t working. The tech person instructed me to restart my computer, so I did. Only when I did, Windows 10 decided it needed to do updates. My computer was out of commission for over an hour while they installed. Then another day, the internet went out 10 minutes before my scheduled shift, in the entire town. It returned the moment my shift was over. Then, I’m only scheduled for about 10 hours per week, although Labor day weekend vacation requests bumped my schedule up to 15 hours. It’s not enough to live on, dollars or not. Plus, if the internet continues to be so unreliable, I’m pretty sure I’ll get fired.

I haven’t come up with any good solutions yet. I’ve committed to this schedule until December, then I’ll have to reevaluate the value of my time. Suggestions anyone?

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Learning and Teaching Year 1

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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.

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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

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