Sunday, September 6, 2009

Going Pro

Sometimes - okay, a lot of times - my life as a teacher has not seemed all that professional (I know...hard to believe someone that's traded, "F*** you!"s across a crowded staffroom with Evil Incarnate could be anything less than stringently professional, but it's true). Since graduating five years ago, I have spent only one year actually teaching art (more or less unsupervised and making up the curriculum as I went along), and a trio of years in the fast paced world of human trafficking...aka, the hagwon (private ESL school) industry...in South Korea. I have worked hard. I have lived through hell. But basically, if the kids were happy and getting good grades that they may or may not deserve, I was doing alright. That comfortability was probably one of the great deciding factors for me in staying at GDA as long as I did. But someday, kids, you've got to grow up.

Before I got to the Emirates, I sometimes found myself wondering exactly how I got myself into this. RAKESS is a good, well-established IB school, and when I leave, I'm going to be well-situated to move into an even better school. But that means getting my shit together. I'm not the art department anymore; I am a part of the art department, and the art department is an integral part of something bigger. I'm exceedingly blessed to be working with Casey - she is the epitome of professionalism, very experienced and knowledgeable...in short, exactly the sort of mentor I should have had five years ago when I first started teaching. Of course that (and the fact that she could be cast as Murphy if they made the Dresden Files into a tv show...oh, wait....never mind) is a little intimidating, and I actually find myself missing the John Lee style of management (in which, on my first day at GDA, I was threatened that, "If you piss these parents off, not only do they have the resources to destroy you, I WILL PERSONALLY >content edited by author due to graphic nature< UP YOUR >ditto< TIL THE >ditto< SHOOTS OUT YOUR MOUTH SO HARD IT KNOCKS YOUR TEETH OUT!") Of course, the John Lee style of management didn't do anything to make me a better teacher. Actually, it's probably his fault that I got that first parent complaint, about how I didn't smile enough - I was pretty terrified that first month. On the other hand, trust me when I say he provides one hell of a reference.

Birdwalk complete.

This was not the most productive weekend of my life. I had good intentions (which make great paving stones, from what I hear) of working on school stuff, and took a lot of heavy books and papers home with me for this express purpose, only to decide napping and watching X-Files was much more necessary (who says you have to be professional on the weekend?). But it wasn't a waste. I went ahead and invited five of my fellow teachers over on Thursday night for dinner, cooked vegetarian fajitas (that I was not altogether satisfied with). Several hours, dirty dishes, and a broken glass later, I rolled into bed, as late as I have since leaving America. It was not the best dinner party I have ever hosted (that would be the night we taught John how to play canasta, and I melted my rice cooker - good food, great company, and the destruction of a household appliance...how much more memorable can an evening get???), but at least I'm trying to be social, right?



Friday (the new Sunday) I spent an hour trying to convince myself to call the Sailors and tell them I wasn't coming to church. I was tired. I had...issues you'd probably prefer I left out of my blog. There was nothing in me that wanted to ride with them an hour into Sharjah, spend three hours fighting sleep through church, Sunday school (Friday school???), and Relief Society, followed by the better part of an hour waiting to leave while they chit-chatted...

...p.s. Mormon friends: how have I been a member of this church for going on thirteen years without discovering that my fellow Saints seem incapable of just leaving, that they have to linger, and chit chat, and chit chat some more. I mean, good grief, Charlie Brown...

...and finally drive ANOTHER hour back to RAK. Nothing. But I'm a good little Mormon girl and going to church is what I do, besides which, there's not a whole lot else to do with my whole, empty Friday, and so, fifteen minutes before the Sailors' arrival, decided that I was, in fact, going to church. Aaaaaaaaaand, the rest of the day I watched X-Files.

Saturday began with what is turning into a ritual ride up to the Net Club Cafe where I skyped with Tori. This has been the highlight of my last three weeks. It's nice to know at the end of the week I can catch up on True Blood and the B&N gossip and just shoot the shit with someone without having to pretend I'm interested in what they have to say. Much of the rest of Saturday passed in the same way as Sunday ("David Duchovny, why don't you love me??"), and then that night Serena and I we went to see Drag Me to Hell. Yes, I know it came out about six months ago back home...that's how it works a lot of the time. It wasn't a bad movie, but they seemed to get a little caught up in the scatological aspects of the genre, gushing blood and vomiting kittens and whatnot. Also, as appalling as I find the premise, it didn't cause me any loss of sleep, due to the fact that my belief in the justice of God overrode the belief that one mortal could curse another into hell for anything, trivial or not. Sustainability of belief aside, I really enjoyed wandering the mall and talking to Serena, and I didn't really have to pretend to be interested in what she had to say, either. And that's a start, at least.

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