Friday, January 28, 2011

Coups, and Hips, and Healing Facts

The problem with having a really lovely, warm apartment is the fact that it's hard to find the motivation to go anywhere else, knowing it's going to be colder there than at home. I haven't been to the gym since last Friday. So far I have not made the membership worth my money. Oh well, I've got 50 more weeks to do that.

One of my thoughts from the gym last week focused on what might have been if I hadn't come to China. If it hadn't been for Socrates, I wouldn't have applied to my school. Well, now he is gone - really gone - and I've been in a funk, and I ask myself whether it wouldn't have been easier if I'd only had to live through his leaving once. And I thought of the fact that if I'd stayed at RAKESS, I would have ended with two years under my belt, and right now would have been looking for jobs in Lima, where Evil will be moving this year. But then I realized that if I'd stayed in the UAE, I probably would have found myself working as a classroom teacher, or an ESL teacher, when the Trunchbull cut RAKESS' art program. Seeing as my current school was more interested in using me as a kindergarten teacher than an art teacher as it was, I think another year outside the art room might have ruined my career prospects. Thus, as hard as the last month has been, I've come to the conclusion that I'm ahead of the game.

Speaking of ESL, I managed my own personal coup at school this week. For the last semester I've been carrying the heaviest class load of any teacher there, and two hours of it have been ESL. This has not sat particularly well with me, and I've tried to make strategic battles against the situation, but a true opportunity to amend the situation didn't come until Wednesday. After our student-led conference day, I was pulled into a meeting with three of our powers that be, and had it explained to me that there was a problem with my schedule. The Chinese teacher who has been taking one of the grades for art was needed to teach more Chinese, due to an influx of second semester students. Their solution was to split his grade and give me two of the classes, give him my fourth graders, and thus fix the problem. They still wanted to keep me in ESL because the kindergarten classes were filling up and they were going to need the help. But there were some other issues brought up by this, and far be it from me not to press them to my advantage. Namely:
1. I knew at least one fourth grade parent was going to have a problem with Dingleberry taking those classes.
2. I didn't particularly want to have to plan units/lessons that he was going to have to teach, because he doesn't actually KNOW how to teach.
3. I was adamant that if I was continuing the ESL, that it would be in-class support only, that it was not fair to me or the kids to make me sacrifice art prep so that I could do a pull-out ESL class, which would take much more time.
Then as we were discussing this, I pointed out the fact that, at the beginning of the year, PE, Music, and myself were all told we would have to teach some ESL, but only I had been made to do so. PYP said, "Oh, I think PE is free during first period...I wonder how full his schedule is..." I had to work hard not to grin, as I knew for a FACT that PE was only teaching 12 hours, and he was about to get busted!

So that took care of my ESL problem. I suggested that if my kindergarteners only had one art class a week, that I would then be able to take ALL of the classes in ALL year groups. This would make one of the kindergarten teachers pretty happy, and create a solution to Dingleberry's obstinance regarding criticism of his art teaching methods. PYP did a little schedule juggling, and yours truly is now teaching each class in every grade once a week. This means a little more planning for me, but on the whole, I'm pretty pleased with myself.

I haven't been very good about my resolution to not eat out this week, either. I had good intentions when I cooked my sweet and sour chicken on Tuesday night, but the following two nights I had dinner dates with a couple of friends. One was a girl Azhaar introduced me to on facebook, who had taken belly dance lessons with her in Seoul. We agreed to meet at the stop where our subway lines meet, which just so happens to be Xujiahui, a pretty major shopping and eating area, and the place of December's MARVELOUS (that's only half sarcastic) staff dinner. So I looked up the Xinjiang restaurant in Lonely Planet, figuring a fellow belly dancer would enjoy the food and the dancing both, and she did...but it didn't actually turn out to be the same restaurant (I think the other place was actually better food, and the dancers did a few more diverse styles, but this place didn't cart the lamb around with its head still attached going, "Baaaa!") She and I were - enthusiastic - audience members, to say the least, a fact which the uyghur staff found pretty amusing. As if being tall and redheaded didn't make me enough of a target. So during the third or fourth song I found myself being led up on stage by the male dancer, and being a bit of an exhibitionist, I found the experience of having a little dance off with a good-looking Chinese Muslim delightful. And the new friend turned out to be pretty cool, too.

Lastly...it has been hard letting Socrates go, but I'm getting better at it. Sunday I spent a while comparing our friendship to my heyday with my Dark Lord and Master, and I realized that - for a number of reasons - this was a piece of cake compared to boarding that final plane out of Korea. I also found myself thinking of his assertion before he left that I would be fine without him. That's something I realized when I was back in Korea, before he'd even lost his job with Soul Sucking International School. What I finally figured out this week was almost poetic:
No matter how much I want him, I don't need him.
No matter how much he needs me, he doesn't want me.
I think that makes me pretty lucky. And if that thought fails to cheer me up, Bohemian Rhapsody sung with vigor during a school sponsored karaoke night ALWAYS does the trick.

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