Saturday, October 07, 2006

El Hazard's (partial) 5-paged letter of resignation..

I really, really enjoyed teaching KG in this school. I was even surprised at how much I actually enjoyed being those kids’ teacher. Everyone I’ve ever heard talk about teaching in a school always said KG was the worst and they’d rather teach any other grade. True some of the kids in KG were a bit on the bratty side – I learnt pretty quick how to accept their mood swings and play around it so that by the end of the day even the kids who had been bent on not doing anything that day were having fun and interacting.

Perfect examples would be Rashid Abdul Nassir, Noura Omar and Muhammad Darwish.

The first day I had Muhammad he cried until he threw up despite all my attempts to cheer the little guy up. The second day he cried and cried until he had an accident on himself. I was told that after class the kids are supposed to be sent to the TV room. Muhammad hated to go to the TV room, so I wouldn’t put him in there. After class sometimes only Muhammad and I would be the only ones left in the classroom and that’s when I’d talk to him in Arabic and English so that he’d understand, learn English at the same time and not be afraid. On the third day of my first week Khalil Ibrahim and Muhammad were the only ones left in my classroom. Muhammad and Khalil were sitting under one of the tables in the class. Muhammad had crawled under there to be alone and Khalil just followed him. I could have just sat and watched them. They weren’t getting into any trouble and certainly weren’t crying. Instead I decided to turn their sitting under the table into a hide-and-seek game where I pretended to search the whole classroom –even the most impossible places for them to be like under the little kiddie sofa or in the bookshelf or inside the file cabinet. They knew those places were impossible for them to be in and they found it hilarious when I’d wonder aloud if they were in any of those places as I searched them. In a mock exasperated voice after not finding them in say, the file cabinet, I’d announce that the next place I looked I’d surely find them. Both Muhammad and Khalil would giggle like madmen while they maintained there hiding place under the table. Muhammad really enjoyed that game and most days after class when the other kids went off to the TV room he’d stay behind to play with me. One time, Huda happened to walk in while we were playing and was surprised to see Muhammad so animate. She said it was the first time she had seen that boy smile in the school. After that first week Muhammad never cried in my class again. If you go to the KG side outside of my former classroom you’ll probably see the Masjids they colored. After class, the day they colored them, I put tape on all of those pictures handed them to Muhammad and then lifted him up there for each one so he could hang them up. He was so happy to have a job like that of such importance and again Huda came out and was amazed at his change.

Noura was another one who cried her eyes out the first day. She was adamant about going back to Huda’s class. She wanted no parts of the English period. She even told me that she hated me. You can ask her mom if you’re inclined not to believe me but after the first week that girl would cry every morning and tell her mom she wanted to go to my class first (she was supposed to be in Huda’s class first on Sat, Mon, Tues and Thursday).

The second week was when I first got Rashid (I think he was absent my whole first week). He screamed like a demon till he fell asleep in Sara’s arms. The next day he screamed some more. I tried everything with him. He refused to talk to me or even listen to me. The third day I decided to pick him up. I held him almost the entire class. (His pants were wet in the front and I had noticed that after I picked him up but assumed it was water from the bathroom or something. When I finally did ask him why his pants were wet, he informed me that he had an accident. Since I was already holding him and it wasn’t like I could change my abaya anyways I just continued to hold him.) When it was story time or I was helping the other kids he sat on my lap. He hated the TV room and the playground. One day after class when I was playing a game of hide-and-seek with Muhammad, Rashid decided he’d join in. He seemed to enjoy it. The next day he didn’t cry as much and started to become very talkative during break time, when the kids went to the playground, and after school. Before the end of that week out of the clear blue, Rashid told me that he loved me very much. The next thing I knew, every morning his mom was dropping him at my class first saying that, that was what he begged for every morning when he came in crying his eyes out.

After Sara got switched to the grades, Aisha Khalid, who was very attached to her used to cry every morning. Bushra saw. If I wasn’t holding that kid she was hanging on to the back of my abaya and would stay there and follow me all over the classroom. You have any idea how annoying that is to have some kid constantly pulling on the back of your abaya?? It was VERY annoying. But I never showed that it annoyed me and I understood that she was a kid. She was one of the ones that hated to sit down and do anything. By the time you switched me to the grades, Aisha and I had become good friends and whenever I asked her to sit and write or color one of the work sheets she’d happily sit down and do it.

Even though I gave a lot of attention to the kids who cried, the other kids were given an equal amount of attention. We (Bushra and I) used to have them do the worksheets or whatever in groups usually between 3-5 kids at a time. Because small groups of kids were done at a time those kids got ‘almost’ individual attention. The remaining kids were allowed to play while the group did the worksheets. Bushra would watch the play group and I’d watch the group doing the worksheets or vice versa.

The kids understood there was to be no fighting, running or throwing things in the class and that they were to listen to me and Bushra. Sometimes they forgot and did those things but they knew there would be consequences. Like when Ali Jalal decided that it was funny to break pieces of his sandwich and smash it into one of his classmate’s hair. I told him repeatedly to stop. He refused to listen and I warned him that he would not go to the playground if he continued to do as he pleased. He’s usually a good kid, I have no idea what got into him that day. He decided not to heed my warning even though I told him in English and Arabic to be sure that if he didn’t understand the English he’d definitely get it in his language. Guess he didn’t believe I’d really keep him. When he saw the class line up and go off to the playground without him he was frantic. I reminded him how he didn’t want to listen and now that was what happened since he hadn’t. I told him he could apologize and I’d take him. Took him awhile to understand that all he had to do was say sorry and that he wouldn’t do it again. After explaining what he had to do no less than ten times in both English and Arabic he finally caught on. As soon as he did so I took him right to the playground. I never had a problem with him again.
Abdalla was a really wild one. He always wanted to run on the tables or provoke and fight with Rida. I told him that if he didn’t respect the class rules he wasn’t going to the playground that day. I always spoke to the kids first in English then in Arabic. He also decided not to listen and when it came time for break I kept him in the classroom. He cried a bit but he did learn to apologize in English when he’s wrong. I took him to the playground after his apology. The next time he smacked Rida. Before I stepped in, he grabbed him, kissed his head and told him he was sorry and that it wasn’t going to happen again. I was surprised but I made sure to acknowledge Abdalla’s apology and tell him I was proud of him. I really was very proud of all of my kids and proud to be their teacher.

The only kid that turned out to be a problem was Yousef Salah. More than once I caught him fighting with the other kids. I explained to him that hitting other kids for no reason wasn’t right. He continued doing it. On one particular day he decided to throw a toy at one girl’s head. She hadn’t done anything to him and she never fights. I told him that was unacceptable. It was on a day that he was in English after the break so I couldn’t tell him he wasn’t going to the playground. He refused to apologize to the girl, so I took him to the board and told him to sit there until I told him he could play again. He cried and cried but refused to apologize. Later he mumbled an apology and I let him go play. He stayed angry and after that every morning when it was time to come to my class he’d cry. His father complained to me and asked why his son hates English class I told him the kid wants to fight sometimes and I don’t allow that and that once I let him sit by the wall under the board and since then he hates English class. The father said give the kid more attention and try to be his friend (as if that wasn’t what I was already doing). In the end I think that kid was most likely just a spoiled brat. He had been fine before I stopped him from fighting.

Honestly with all that I was doing with those kids I can’t understand where these “complaints” from the parents were coming from. Quite a few of those kids were picked up and dropped off by parents and those parents used to speak with me. A few wanted to know about homework and the kids school bags. I told them I’d send any and all homework home in there bags on Thursday. They all understood the homework was optional for them to do with the kids and if they didn’t have the kids complete the homework at home then Bushra would do it with the kids. They were pleased. One parent gave me a notebook that she wanted me to write in notes about her son at the end of the week and send home to her I told her I would. I had all intentions of doing it last week and then I was switched to the grades. To be truthful with you, I don’t believe there ever were complaints – least not valid ones if any. “Not showing the kids enough ‘affection’ ” was what you claimed. Those kids knew I loved them, Rashid knew I loved him and even expressed his jealousy by saying that he didn’t want me to love the rest of the kids when I said I love all of them. They were kissed even when they were their noses dripped with snot. I was given a very snotty kiss on the cheek by one of the boys who insisted he kiss me before he left with his mom after school. They were comforted when they cried for their mothers. So where were the grounds for these complaints?? Please tell me ‘cause I really don’t know. I certainly can’t imagine a parent having the nerve to come to you (not me mind you) and tell you that there isn’t enough affection being shown to the kids! Unless there’s hidden cameras in the KG (which I sincerely doubt given the owner’s tight fist when it comes to spending on “his” school) there is like no way for those parents to even try and claim they know what’s going on in the classroom. Ha, I would have appreciated if there were hidden cameras in there as proof. Can you honestly say that it’s part of a KG teacher’s job – in any school not just this one – to hold a kid who has urine on him?? Or kiss and be kissed by a snotty one?? Or play hide and seek with one when they could just as easily be put in the TV room doesn’t matter if they wanted to go or not?? I don’t think even you could fix your mouth to say yes that is part of the job and that all KG teachers do that and more. You claimed that you’d come and observe my class the next day. I’ll assume you had no intention of doing any such thing since you had already shown my KG classroom to the other girl and decided she’d be your new KG teacher.

I’ve heard quite a bit about you, but that was really low – even for you. If you guys wanted a grades teacher why didn’t you just pay someone “qualified” decent money, clean up you guys reputation of dishonesty and tell me you didn’t need my services anymore?? Instead, you switch me to the grades and still try to hand me KG salary?? You claim it is because I don’t have qualifications. I don’t have qualifications, true, but since you guys weren’t going to raise the KG salary does that mean I wouldn’t have had to make out those tests come exam time? Or grade all those exams? How about all those other extras that I would be expected to do the same as any other qualified teacher? Okay so don’t raise my salary, I’m not a qualified teacher but are you going to tell the parents of 3B1 and 3B2 that their kids are being taught by a non-qualified teacher and therefore they are entitled to discounted school fees? I believe pigs, no sorry the word pig is a forbidden word, my bad I forgot.. so “cows” will definitely fly before the administration of Al Mawahib Private school would ever do something so h-o-n-e-s-t.

Let’s not mention that so called staff meeting you held on Wednesday. I don’t blame that one teacher for laughing. It was surprising that no one else laughed and had I not been exceptionally pissed off I would have been laughing as well. I mean really. You sat there straight faced and had the nerve to get uppity about what the teachers were and weren’t doing and what was obvious that they should have been doing. As the principal you should set the example. In the first place you just moved me to the grades without even half a mention as to what I’m supposed to be doing besides “teaching”. It just so happened that I knew how much trouble those diaries were last year when the last period teachers forgot to put them in the bags or give them to the kids. I had them last period this week and found a stack of diaries on the desk. I was planning to give them homework as well so before I handed them out I took it upon myself to write the homework in each book myself. The only reason I took the time to write the homework in those books myself was because as a tutor I’ve seen many kids come home with their diaries after some teacher wrote the homework on the board and expected the kids to copy it into their diaries. Half the time it was almost impossible to read what the homework was because the kid’s handwriting was atrocious. Some schools allow the teachers to do that. Apparently that’s not allowed in MPS but how was I to know if I had been lazy and decided to let the kids copy in their own homework doesn’t matter if they –or anyone else- can read it when they go home or not? You certainly didn’t inform me of that fact. You also never mentioned that it was my job to take them to prayer if I had the period before prayer time. I asked the boys if anyone takes them to prayer and they all said no. They said that from grade 3 up the kids get to go upstairs to prayer alone without the teacher accompanying them. So how was I to know? Then that bathroom rule you came up with during the meeting. L-U-D-I-C-R-O-U-S. Boys have to use the bathroom more frequently than girls. I let a few boys go out to the bathroom and only after it was pretty obvious that they had to go. So now with your brilliant new bathroom ban what are those kids supposed to do?? This is the grades, not KG and if one of those boys accidentally urinates on himself because the teachers are now not allowed to let them go to the bathroom what do you think is going to happen? Well for starters the other boys in the class will tease that poor kid to death. Ah well.. right? What do you care, better him than you. That’s the attitude I felt pouring off of you during that meeting. Ironically you had just been going on about the parents complaining and calling you to the school at all hours to hand them their kid’s diary. (I honestly can’t say I believe that.) Your other claim was that the parents drag you in from the reception to the filthy classrooms (I so don’t believe that, it’s very rare when a person can even find much less find you just standing around in the reception just waiting to receive said complaints!) to complain about the untidiness. So if these parents are in fact SO ultra sensitive and are just prone to complaining round the clock, what do you suppose they’ll say to their kid being reduced to urinating on himself because the teacher wouldn’t allow him to go to the bathroom?? (Gee that’s the kind of stuff you read in Gulf News!) Your exact words during the meeting were “Let them complain.” (*Blink Blink* WOW, was all I could think of after hearing that come out of your mouth.) That must only mean one thing… When a kid does have accident like that and some parent comes in livid that such a thing should take place in any school much less Al Mawahib Private School, the innocent principal is going to say that she has no idea what could have possessed a teacher not to allow a kid to use the bathroom!

You guys don’t even feel shame to call yourselves administration of anything much less a school, do you? Charging parents through the noses and shutting off the A/Cs mid-school year to “save” money. Or was that Al Mawahib Private schools gift to the environment – conserving energy… If that were the case, why not keep it off at all times and in all areas? Or is the Ministry that scary that Al Mawahib administration would rather get up off of a few fils to a/c the place so as not to get a citation? I don’t suppose the a/c was kept on in the reception area for the benefit of the parents. That would have been rather shabby to broadcast to those parents what a cheap school they put their poor kids in.
I still have to proofread the above and add a couple more valid complaints! I shall spare her nothing!

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