28 March 2009

clash of the cultures

Teaching in an international school (well, teaching in my school) means not only teaching TCK's and with other ex-pats (both of whom have a cultural background that is similar to mine, whether by experience or by inculcation) but also with people from a completely different world view. Our school is small and has a higher proportion of locally-hired teachers to foreign (US/UK/Canadian...though we're all US right now) -hires than other international schools. The local hires have a large majority--though the foreign-hires tend to drive the program. Sometimes this is great. Sometimes, frankly, this is just an annoyance.

One of our teachers, in particular, drives me and all the ex-pat "foreign hire" teachers crazy. She's a "local hire". There are many things about her teaching that drive me crazy that might or might not have anything to do with where she was hired, but I suspect it does.

She has *no* control over her class. They are loud, disobedient (to her, not me) and completely rule the roost. Seriously--it's Lord of the Flies in there. I'm worried about d2b being in that unstructured class. This teacher was appalled when I suggested she just tell her students they couldn't do something. "I could never say no to them." I replied, "I say no to them every day." She thinks they are...who knows? I think her expectations for them both academically and socially are entirely too low. She's always late and, quite frankly, is lazy. These challenges, I suppose, might be encountered in any school (though I haven't ever met a teacher like this).

But then there are those little challenges that just blindside me. We're planning a K-8 activity day that student council really wanted. It's all egg-related activities in celebration of Easter. We're doing it on Monday because the rest of the week we have teachers out.

I got an angry, spiteful e-mail from her after trying to help sort out her objections to Monday. She doesn't want to prepare things before then but won't choose an activity that requires less preparation--I suggested one that student council wanted and offered to change the time table and got slammed. She also slammed me for suggesting another activity and for e-mail it. (Ummm..I had playground duty before school and student council at recess so I e-mailed everyone an update while my kiddos did their morning journal. I was going to go and make the rounds at lunch. Instead I went home with a migraine. Huh. Wonder why.)

Okay. So that's all school politics. No, I've never taught with someone like this, but it can't completely be blamed on culture. (Well, the no-education-for-five-year-olds IS cultural...but not the horrible e-mail.) But then she had the gall to say that what was bothering her was that we were wasting food and that was disrespectful of the people--including her grandmother--who lived through or died in the siege.


So now I don't know if she was bitchy because of her dead grandmother or manipulatively bringing up the siege (you can't argue with the siege) because she was feeling bitchy about not getting the day she wanted. I, perhaps unfairly, suspect the latter. Fortunately, my other ex-pat teachers leapt into the fray and had my back. They even pointed out that buying eggs (some to play a RUSSIAN Easter game and others to decorate in the UKRAINIAN style and the rest to conduct a science experiment) was helping the local economy.


Just another little culture clash.

Our art teacher is a whole culture clash of her own.


Heidi said...

Um. I was ready to agree and say she was cranky old teacher blah blah blah, BUT then the part about the seige. Um? Okay, have you considered she's just wacked? Coo-coo, gone nuts, senile, lost all her marbles?
She's crazy. Be careful of her.
Too bad she's a teacher. I think we both agree how a teacher should conduct her class ~ she's not even close! Feel bad for the kids.
Keep up the good fight. ;)

Annie said...

I think I'll copy and paste this to my poor husband who is undergoing similar issues with a co-teacher in Korea. International - eh?

Actually, I should count myself blessed that at my school everyone is pretty darned cooperative.

I'll love a run-down of your activities! Maybe I'll try to replicate it here! (If you don't object). Let's waste a little more food - how 'bout it?

Annie said...

Sorry....just thought how this post will RANKLE with our mutual blog-friend who is DYING to teach at your school. I bet she is first-rate, too.

kate said...

AND she teaches the same grade this teacher does! But this teacher has been at our school longer than anyone else. I don't think she's going anywhere...though she doesn't get rave reviews. She has an assistant who does most of the work. I think we're all thankful for that assistant!

Tina in CT said...

Is there tenure there? If not, why do they keep renewing her contract each year?

That teacher sounds like she just is disageeable and would be like that no matter what anyone proposed.

How much longer do you have on your contract until you can move back home with D2B?

Jojo, Julz, Jules said...

See, if I were teaching Kindie, there would be tons of control and lots of learning!

You don't even want to know what is going on in my class right now, so I will just say, Best of Luck, and it is huge to have support!

Jenni said...

Ugh. School politics! I am also the Student Council supervisor at my school, and one thing I've learned is that everyone has an opinion of how you could make activities better (and they're not afraid to bring up what they think you are doing wrong). It's impossible to please all the staff, students, and parents!

I hope this teacher gets a grip. In the meantime, the bumper sticker a colleague has seems to fit this situation perfectly: "Are you rude, or is it just cultural?"