Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Leaving Universe

A Day at Universe With the Rose-Tinted Glasses Off
Well, the positive feelings didn’t last long at Universe. I had a hunch my feelings would lean this way, but I wanted to try to stay positive, which is why my last post about work (A Day At Universe Academy) is so upbeat. I wanted to convince myself that I loved it. I don’t why I thought I would, as Jon pointed out a previous blog entry I wrote while living in Ecuador. I worked at a pre-school in Quito for about a month and then changed to volunteering with the United Nations. Here is a direct quote that I wrote after working with the pre-school in 2006.
“Apparently when I signed up for this project I temporarily lost my brains because I thought playing with kids all day would be fun and rewarding. Turns out that it is more exhausting and tiring than fun.”
Did I suppress that memory? What made me think that I could work with 2,3, and 4 year olds all day and like it? Did I lose my brains again?
My little students didn’t change, they are still as cute as ever, and they are getting more and more well-behaved every day. I chalk it up to how fast their minds develop at that age, and the fact that I teach them to act in ways that don’t bug me. For example, they can be as noisy as they want on the bus as long as they are sitting down, the noise doesn’t bother me. However, for some reason, a disorganized “clean-up time,” drives me nuts, so they quickly learned to put their toys away like professional cleaners. I still enjoy class time every day and I enjoy trying to think of new activities and new ways to get them speaking English.
The reason I dislike it is… the rest of the day. I don’t particularly love helping kids get changed every morning (the little two-year olds still need help), and watching them play outside during recess is fine, but gets a little boring. Getting lunch ready is not any great hassle, but it’s not exactly what I imagined I would be doing as I pay off my $30,000 in student loans. Naptime is a nightmare, as described in my previous post. However, I’ve made some changes. Every day I pull two of the four-year-old kids out of naptime and tutor them for 20 minutes privately. This not only gets two of the kids most likely to be causing problems out of the room, it gives me a good excuse to avoid the worst portion of the day. Riding the bus is pretty awful too, but I haven’t figured a way to get out of that yet.
I ride the bus with the kids twice a week in the morning and once a week in the afternoon. It’s a pretty horrible 90 minutes each time. The bus driver jerks the bus so quickly around corners that the kids nearly tip out of their seats. Every time the light changes green, it’s like he’s racing off the starting block and even if he can see from a block away that the next light is red, he still floors it till he needs to slam on the brakes. It’s pretty rough on someone who is prone to motion sickness. I’m supposed to chat and sing songs with the kids, but to be frank, they spend seven and a half hours at English school and they are just little babies. Do they really need someone harping on them to sing or talk in English on the bus too? (To be honest, that’s probably just my personal justification for not making the effort to force them to participate with me.) To clarify, if they ever want to talk with me or show me something, I am very nice and engaging and talkative. If they want to sing the Itsy-bitsy Spider with me, I do the hand movements and everything, I just don’t force them to wake up from their afternoon-bus-ride-nap to talk with me. I spend most of the bus time looking out the window and trying to settle my stomach.
At the end of the day, it’s not a very personally fulfilling job. I know that the kids are learning a lot and I know I’m making a difference in their lives, but when I decided to go back to school to get my Masters Degree in Teaching English, this was not the job I saw myself doing.
So, I told my bosses at Universe a bit ago that I was leaving at the end of March, giving them three whole months to find a new teacher. (And three whole months for them to make my last three months terrible.) I started looking for jobs and so far the outlook is pretty optimistic…knock on wood.

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