Thursday, 3 June 2010

Cardboard boxes

As goodbyes go, today sucked.

I've been teaching at a major IT company for last six years, sub-contracting for a recently bankrupted nationwide chain's "business" division. They hired me originally online, no interview. I was told their local eikaiwa teachers were "not good enough/trained well enough" (true).

I was told on Apr 21 not to teach on the 22nd...and have not been able to go back since. Nor be paid for April. Nor get money back for all the textbooks I supplied. Nor continue my personal obligations for the remainder of the six-month contract. Nor meet my students to say goodbye. Nor collect my stuff from my locker.) Felt like a leper being shown out of the place this morning with my stuff heaped into cardboard boxes like I had done something wrong. Felt dirty.

Overnight, Jimbo lost 55 students, some of whom I have been teaching for six years. My instructions were simply to 'teach Business English'. Can you do that to total beginners? Is it appropriate for someone who never goes to meeting or business trips but is forever reading & writing email? Can students ever really learn anything at 8.30am on a Monday?!

Anyway, in six years my students helped me figure out the importance of needs analysis, prioritising goals, negotiating workloads and setting long-term objectives. Likewise, with students, identifying the most appropriate style of assignments & out of class extensions and the most useful ways for them to submit work & get feedback (or not). What kind of classroom did we want - how, with a concrete firewall & no LAN network, could we get technology into the classroom? How could we reduce our photocopying needs? How could students take more responsibility for their learning careers & prove they were making progress, reading the books they were claiming, putting good learning habits to use?

I need to thank my students very sincerely for being generous with THEIR limited time in a stressed schedule to come along regularly and be submitted to new ideas & challenges; not always going to plan and sometimes at complete tangents...but in the fullness of time very much achieving our aims and managing to do so co-operatively and with a good deal of humour. Thank you, all of you, for your friendship, kindness, and long hard work. You deserve tons of praise for your industry, which I don't think your company is going to recognise. I hope I am wrong, but any time you accept the cheapest contractor you can pretty much guarantee the quality of the service you are going to get. My students deserve ever so much more than that, and we all know it.

I have removed personal info from the comments I have received spontaneously from my suddenly ex-students.I have been extremely touched by everyone's sincerity. Thank you.