Monday, February 11, 2013

I Can't Get No (Job) Satisfaction

To begin with, the title of this post is more an attempt at a playful bon mot  than how I actually feel about my job: from the Rolling Stones song of a similar name...

However, my job--though I'd like to retain it--is not exactly ideal. No one's is, which is a problem, but also a fact of life. I've discovered a number of things since the start of my teaching "career," and a few of them are starting to become a headache.

I'm trying to decide if I'm sick of teaching, or sick of being a teaching assistant. As a teaching assistant, my role is not taken all that seriously, by students or teachers. Then again, teaching is not taken all that seriously, either. 

Take the teacher's strike--not last week but the week before--I think it was January 31. No one told me about it before I got to school, but I ran into one of the Spanish teachers in the teacher's lounge, and she explained it to me. I think I got brownie points by being there, since the vice principle made rounds during the day to see who was actually doing their job...

Since the teachers didn't show up in protest, the students were a step ahead, willing to stay at home that day. I had two out of four, which is actually better odds than normal!! As far as I know, it was a national strike (here's some media coverage, in French) and the French do have a reputation for protest--it's like it's their national pastime!

What are they protesting, exactly? Well, higher wages for one (pretty standard) but the one that really gets me is this: the French government (and recently elected Socialist president François Hollande) wants to extend the school week from four days a week to--gasp--four and a half days a week! By the way, France is the only Western country to NOT have a five-day school week for children. (I heard this tidbit on the evening news the other night.) Currently, almost no one works on Wednesdays. A full-time teacher works 24 hours a week. I, part-time, work 12 hours a week. 

There is also the peripheral item on agenda of protection against firing of "unnecessary" teachers that has been a threat bandied about since Sarkozy's reign (circa 2007), but like I said, that's probably not a real threat. Personally, I do think it's criminal to fire someone without notice, but sometimes, some people (yes, even teachers!) don't deserve to keep their jobs. As for having to work more hours, I have this to say: suck it up, people. It's called work for a reason! 

In fact, I would like to be doing a hell of a lot more work than I am doing. I feel completely dejected, as my emails go unanswered, students do not show up to my lessons, and when they do, they sit passively, sleep in class, or otherwise act like a sack of bricks. (Thus leading my to believe that perhaps the sack of bricks has the edge on an IQ test...) 

I also have the problem of comparing everything to my previous experiences in Austria. That doesn't help matters, since I'm sure I complained just as much then. But, I'll say this: Austrian kids ARE better at English. A LOT BETTER! Maybe it's because the languages are similar? Because Austrians see a point in learning English? Because Austrians have fewer preconceived notions about Americans (or Brits)? Who knows? I've been told (by certain students embarrassed by their bad English) that the level of Spanish is much better in France than the level of English. 

What do I say to that? Whoopee.

I feel like I've complained an awful lot on this blog, for which I apologize (to my two regular viewers who have heard it all before on monster Skype sessions, I'm sure. :) ). Anyway, I will try my best to think more positively in the future. Just think: when I was 16, I wanted to move to France forever! I'll just have to remind myself of the reasons why, I guess, and hope they still ring true.

There was a point when I really liked teaching. When was that? Please remind me. I want to believe again.


  1. I could have written a post like this maybe 10 times by now. But you have done is much more eloquently than I could have and for this representation of our common cause I thank you!

  2. Thanks so much for your comment, Marianne! I feel sometimes like this blog is just an indulgent "bitch" session! But I'm glad to have the support :)