Number one for English language teachers

Whatever doesn't kill you

Type: Reference material

In her nineth and final diary entry, Willow Vanderbosch writes about the downsides to her job and considers how it can be made better for the future.

Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…

My job is huge. I’m trying to set up a school that can be run by one teacher/ administrator/ director of studies. Something that is self-explanatory and self-supporting. I have approximately 200 students on two islands that all receive two classes a week from me. I’ve managed to cut this into only about 30 classes a week - which is very high volume teaching, especially if you are the one to do all of the reports, scheduling, and developing a syllabus/action plan which includes having to completely restructure or throw out what was done before if it didn’t work.

Some days are worse than others. This week has been filled with those days. I teach the courses in three months at a go. After three months I usually take a short holiday and then I take two-three weeks (depending on how much paperwork has stacked up) to review, do data entry, plan and reposition as well as make the schedules, certificates and end of term reports that are personal and meaningful for all 200 students.

I hate office work. I really do. This is the time that is the most difficult for me, since it’s a lot of Excel sheets, and data manipulation. How I dream of administrators! (God bless them, every one!) The most difficult thing about this time however, is that because I’m not teaching everyone seems to think that I’m not doing anything. Every time anyone sees my face, they say, 'When are classes starting? You’re taking holiday now? Relaxing time?' This is usually followed by my silent screams.

There are few things worse than doing the parts of the job that you hate the most, that cause you more physical and emotional stress than anything else in your profession, and everyone around you thinking that you must be doing nothing.

As I looked at the calendar and realized that despite the fact that my more than one meter long 'to do' list is only half finished, more than two weeks have passed and I really must get classes started by the end of three weeks. I began spending 14 hours in the office instead of the usual 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Then one night I just looked at the stacks around me and the tears came tumbling down. Fortunately, it was only a minor break in the dam and subsided after about five minutes. A long time ago, a friend said to me, 'Let it out. You’re too tough. Sometimes we just need a good cry to get the frustration out.' It helped. I spent the next two hours writing a proposal for the use of a laptop for the position, with the help of a classmate and fantastic friend. Who knew that friends on the internet could be so loving and supportive? Here’s hoping something comes of it.

I noticed that Saul Pope, who writes one of the other diaries, is thinking about doing an accredited DELTA. I have just begun a distance Trinity LTCL Diploma, which is the other accredited option, and it’s wonderful. It also has the great advantage of being able to be done by distance even without an on-the-spot supervisor. It’s really changed my entire outlook after only a month…and I have another six months to go! This course both adds to my difficulties by taking up another 10-15 hours a week of my already completely overloaded time, and gives me the tools to solve the problems that I have by giving me a different perspective. This is a God-send because despite eight years managing businesses, and three years of teaching in different environments, I was still struggling to not have to reinvent the wheel.

Now, it’s only 11 hours into my day, but it’s been very productive and I finally got out the second island’s schedule to be reviewed by all departments. Now I just have to make all of the certificates from the last course and attendance sheets for the next course and I should hopefully be ready to start on Wednesday! Hooray!

I tell myself that this is like a second schooling experience. If I can accomplish what I set out to do on this job, then I can do anything in the profession. If whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, than I’ll be Superwoman when this finishes, and thankfully!

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