Wednesday, February 13, 2008

can't fight the seether, or: hugging my grudge

i'm sure you are wondering what decision i made about next year, yes?
after hours of laborious pro and con weighing (and having completely opposite "gut" feelings depending on the day and circumstance), and when my head felt constricted to the point of implosion, i finally chose roots over wings and signed over my life for another year. that means i will be a JET for as long starting now as I've been until now. i'm sitting on the halfway mark.

i made this decision in spite of several things that have come to light recently, namely that i may be forced to entertain my special needs students once a week (rather than once per month) without even being asked how i feel about it. i seriously love those students, but each hour-long class requires at least seven hours of planning and preparation. where would i get that kind of time and energy every week!? the teacher doesn't speak much english, and we have very convoluted conversations that tax both of us.

i already teach 15 hours of class per week, three different grade levels and with an average class size of 30 people. i am involved in almost every step of planning for these classes including curriculum development, lesson planning, grading, and testing. unlike many people in JET, my school actually puts me to use. the regular schedule allows me to form friendships with my students and encourage them personally. that's the most rewarding part of my job.

mainly i fear that if i was sent to the other school, the four upperclassman classes i teach would be seen as less important than the six freshman ones and would be sacrificed due to my more limited schedule. that would kill me. freshman classes are brutal, and my upperclassmen keep me laughing. i have a history with them, and i finally get to see the kind of people they are growing into. their english level is higher and we can do more diverse and challenging lessons. i love them!

i was told secretly by another teacher that my new interim supervisor had been asked if it would be a problem to send me to the other school once a week, and without even asking me about it, he said, "no problem." i've never felt more like property. i see he hasn't wasted any time in using his power for evil.

don't worry, though; knowing all this was initially infuriating, but i did eventually come around to looking for the positives. maybe my class load would be reduced, and i could have even more time to plan creative lessons. maybe i wouldn't have to teach with my supervisor at all. who knows? i tend to be decidedly attached to my routines, but it isn't always bad to have them changed. regardless, the next year is absolutely my last in the inaka.

today, as i faced my morning freshman class, i had a renewed sense of how amazing it is that i get to stand up in front of these young people and hear what they have to say. i lose sight of that sometimes, but it's a gift that can't be taken away, even by a supervisor without my best interests at heart.

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