I am back at school, after two weeks of holidays, cleaning and kashering the house. I dreaded the return and have’nt been disappointed.
The kids I teach this year aren’t too disruptive, with one notable exception (a class of 33 monstrous creatures labelled as students by our administration). However when it comes to teaching, and not socializing, classes that are ok are not enough. I get paid to teach those kids, to instill something in their minds, not to supervize aimless teenagers. However this is what it has felt like since I got back.
One group of seniors (who by the way have an English oral in less than a month) had to choose between two pictures and prepare an oral presentation. In spite of the holidays, only two students in this small group of 7 had bothered to produce something.
In another class of seniors, students for whom English is supposed to be a major subject, I had asked all students to bring their textbooks to revise a few grammar points. Disappointingly less than half the group had remembered so I ended up excluding those who couldn’t work. It may look a bit rash but there is no point in pretending.
Lastly, in the most awful class, I had to nag and threaten for about 15 minutes before they agreed to keep quiet so that the lesson could really start. Obviously the rare sentences produced by a few reluctant students were disappointing and very different from what I had expected and counted on.
What can I do? In the long run it gets really annoying to see them arrive at the beginning of a lesson, sit down, get their books out if they havent forgotten to bring them, knowing that very few will have bothered to learn their lessons or do their homework. After some months, this is really getting on my nerves. It is also depressing and worrying. I used to love teaching and was eager to go back after the holidays. Now I feel drawn as a teacher and perplexed as an individual. What’s more a lot of my colleagues, both younger and older than me, share my feelings and concern. Where has the passion for learning gone? The enthusiasm for ideas, poems, books and movies? Why do they seem so passive even when we tackle topical issues or when they are meant to be the active producers of posters, articles, book covers, radio shows and so on?
What makes everything even harder just now is that most teachers here feel let down by the current government. Numerous teachers retire and are not replaced. We are asked to teach extra hours (this is cheaper than creating new teaching jobs) yet lack the backing and support we need. Doesn’t anybody realize we are talking about the future generations?