I don’t like my job. Depending on the day, I either don’t like it or I hate it. Today I don’t like it because I’m trying to be optimistic.
I feel like a jerk. I have a job that pays me more than enough money to survive! I should be happy. I teach human children! I should feel fulfilled. I feel neither.
Since there’s nothing I can do to change my situation until June 30th when my contract is over, I’m stuck trying to figure out what I dislike about my job so-as to try to avoid future jobs with whatever major flaw is causing the dislike of this one. (For those not in the “know,” I teach science in English at a bilingual private school in Keelung, Taiwan. “Can the kids speak English?” is the first question most people ask me, and the answer is “Some, yes, very well. Most, enough to get by. And some, not at all.)
I was Skyping with a friend in the States who’s working for a non-profit. IDK exactly the work she does, but she mentioned that she has large amounts of things she needs to accomplish, but not necessarily a rigid, set-hours schedule. When we Skype’d, she was working from home for the week to accommodate her part-time gig substituting for her injured boyfriend’s Latin class.
As one who vacillates between disliking and hating my job teaching, I could not really understand why anyone would opt-in to teaching (forgetting that I had opted-in twice, once when I applied to the job, and again when I signed a contract for a second year. It was this damn German expression I had heard during my first year that convinced me I ought to do a second year to get more data on whether or not I liked/could do teaching). I think what I relished in my friend’s description of her job was the flexibility of it. I spend a lot of time at work doing nothing. I plan curriculum, I grade papers or quizzes, I check homework. But then I do absolutely nothing but sit around on my computer either trying to look busy or not caring. I feel like I waste enormous amounts of time just needing to be present in this physical space that I’ve know come to association with a prison mentality.
Last week, during lunch, I left work. I went to a Family Mart convenience store and just sat in the cafe area reading Carrie Brownstein’s Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl and it was the best hour of my work week. I could sense a physical lightness when I was out of the school, and a heaviness upon returning. The weight of what? Ennui?
I should feel fulfilled. This feeling of fulfillment should make me want to do more. Be more creative. Plan more interesting lessons. I should feel fulfilled and this fulfillment should make me feel alive when I step into the classroom, not bored and frustrated. But I do not feel fulfilled. I think this is because the person I am does not have the patience to deal with children day in and day out. And thus, I feel ineffective in the classroom because I feel like I’m not handling them in such a way that they are retaining ideas. And thus, I see myself as making no difference, as being no more capable at this job than literally ANYONE else who can read and speak English fluently. And thus, ennui lays upon my back as a trudge up the three flights of stairs to my classroom.
Do I dislike teaching? Probably in most traditional capacities of the word “teaching.” I taught wilderness first aid and really enjoyed that job, but that’s likely because I never taught it consecutively for more than 7 days and the students were all adults capable of sitting quietly and listening. I think I could enjoy seminar-style teaching. Coming in with an idea of where you want to lead a discussion. Talking with people about ideas. That’s fun.
My job is five 40-minute classes a day of AT BEST a few out of 20 students being responsive to the new ideas being discussed in the lesson. The same thing that’s supposed to make teaching rewarding and special and fun – the kids – is what makes this work unbearable for me. The nagging and screaming and not listening to basic instructions. I dislike/hate being in the classroom with them. I dislike/hate being their teacher.
It’s like herding f*cking cats. But, like, instead of herding their bodies you’re tasked with herding their minds. Impossible.
50 (school) days.