It has been a while, hasn’t it? As the school year winds down and I find myself with more time, I realize that I haven’t kept up on my rambling. I’ve also been reflecting on my past. It’s something I often do in my “sessions of sweet silent thought” (Shakespeare’s sonnet 30). I suppose I am drawn this time to remembering things past due to the fact that I will once more be unemployed.
You see, while my wonderful wife has been hired for another year at the school we’ve been working at here in Korea, I was not. To be honest, I’m not surprised. My classroom management skills are seriously lacking – a fact that has not been improved by hands-on experience – and I don’t have (and haven’t had) the time to observe other teachers. The only surprise was that I was never told by the person who decided not to hire me again why I wasn’t, especially considering the fact that he had never observed me teaching. So I’m left wondering if parent complaints, which have never really been relayed to me (and would be skewed by the fact that the parents only hear through the students and get a very lopsided picture… >.> ), played a major role in the decision and left to figure out by myself what I need to improve on. At least the person who observed me sat down with me the following week and explained why he thought I wasn’t asked back. That was the first face-to-face meeting I had on the subject. >.< A word to the wise: sit down and spend some time explaining why you aren't re-hiring someone - even 5 minutes could work wonders at preventing bitterness in your employees. The school is blessed by the fact that rather than saying, "to hell with you for how you treated me," and slacking off, I have redoubled my efforts to finish the library inventorying so that whoever they saddle with that responsibility won't have to worry about trying to figure out how I was doing things. As you can probably tell, I am still bitter about the manner in which I wasn't hired back. I don't mind that I wasn't hired again, but the way... And it's been about a month. >.>
In any case, trying to figure out what I will be doing for work next year has got me thinking back on what I have done.
Aside from having plenty of experience at being unemployed, I have had a rather varied span of jobs. My first job was a self-employed endeavor with a good friend. We did all sorts of outdoor work from clearing brambles without disturbing the shallow root system of trees that would topple easily if we did to washing off a roof and cleaning out a garden shed. It was hard work, but the sense of accomplishment was good. That summer I also worked at a Cub Scout day camp and became the archery range master! The camp theme that year was knights of the round table and you can partly blame that for the accent I now find myself talking in (I fooled the parents, but not the kids… ). I had a blast, had a few moments where I had to keep the kids from pointing nocked arrows at each other, had some arrows that tunneled under the grass in a way that made them hard to find, and improved on my archery skills on my breaks.
And then I worked as a computer lab assistant at the university I attended. There wasn’t much to that job aside from making change and dealing with the occasional refusal of a computer and the printer to communicate with each other. So I had time to work on homework. Had it not been for the fact that only current students were allowed to be employed there, I probably would have kept working there after graduation until I found other work. Instead I joined the ranks of unemployed without qualifying for unemployment checks due to the fact that I hadn’t worked full-time. Still, it was the longest I’ve ever worked somewhere.
The following holiday season I worked in a Christmas tree lot. I now think that Christmas trees above the 5′ to 6′ range are excessive due to the weight and hassle they caused me. Another interesting thing I learned is that if some people decide to leave a tip, you start expecting tips, especially when you deliver a 13′ tree to a house and help set it up – when said household doesn’t leave a tip, you feel ripped off. That is why the system in Korea of not leaving tips might be better…
My current job has been a learning experience. I’ve experienced good character growth and some not-so-good character growth. Deeper calm and more patience are good; a delight in the pre-test anxiety and squirming of students who have been treating me disrespectfully is not so good. At times it has been a delight to work with the administration and staff and at other times I feel connected to the Irish who were under absentee landlords and the British colonies in America with their communication delay. The first, second, and third graders have been fun to sub for and see in the library – they love Алёша (Alyosha) my fox puppet friend and upon seeing my furry arms have called me fox. Other students have made my life interesting… I’m going to have to explain to some of my students that lying about the spelling of a word written in Korean on the board by one of them is not wise, especially when their answer doesn’t appear to be an actual Korean word. Sigh.. The word, by the way, was 바보 (pabo), which means “stupid; a fool; an ass.” >.< I just hope all of them losing all their participation points for that day will help them be smarter... Next time I ramble, I will present you with my reminiscing on my life and how my childhood differs from those of the students I'm teaching, especially in light of technological advances.