June 5, 2012

It’s hard to be out of the loop at times.

There are many times, when yes, I agree, it is appropriate to keep someone from knowing something. Perhaps if the information or knowledge pertains to national security or someone else’s personal information, fair enough. In a competition, such as a job application, keeping the applicants ‘out of the loop’ until the final results of all applicants is compiled and a person is chosen, is important.

What gets my goat at times, is when my employer keeps me out of the loop. I am a teacher at the school. Unless the information is personal about another teacher, or that I may be on the receiving end of disciplinary action, then why would I be kept out of the loop?

For a couple of days, one of my schools had cancelled my classes. I was not told why. I was only told about it one hour before the class was to begin. It’s really not that big a deal for me, but let me give the school one hour notice that I can’t make class, and all hell breaks loose.

The next class time, I go in, and what I find is really surprising. My classroom is devoid of all desks, chairs, whiteboard, books… the room is empty. The manager starts to get irritated with me! How very strange. We, meaning I and another teacher, had to bring tables up from another floor, to place in the classroom. Then, I was given old and broken stools for the students to sit on. It would have been better just to have us sit on the floor instead.

I asked one of the teachers what was going on. I know she knows something, but is unwilling to share the information with me. So I have to wonder – what is going on? Are my classes going to be cancelled? Am I going to be teaching in a different classroom? Is the room being redecorated? Is the classroom getting new furniture?

Now, I don’t really believe that this kind of information, especially to a teacher of the school, is classified or ‘need-to-know’ basis. As I always try to do with people, I expect straight-forwardness and being upfront with information. What harm could possibly befall the school by me knowing that the furniture will be changing? Or that the walls are going to be repainted? I also think I’m old enough to accept the fact that perhaps, a class or two or all will be cancelled. Hell, there’s enough employers in Tainan who would want a teacher with my experience, working with them.

Another piece of information I was told was that a teacher is leaving. However, I was to keep that information secret. I asked if the manager already knew. Yes. Do other teachers know? Yes. Am I supposed to know? No. Why? What difference would it make if I knew there would be a new teacher in the class? I teach English, and really, it doesn’t matter a whole lot to me who the new teacher is. I just find it strange that the manager feels that the foreign teacher doesn’t need the information and it needs to be kept confidential, when all the other teachers already know anyway.   Besides, in a small business, information is going to get around one way or another.

The thing that kills me the most, is that I’ve been a faithful and consistent teacher since beginning my work with them. At present, I am the ONLY employee (teacher) that has been around as long as I have! All the other employees, and I mean, ALL the other employees, have less tenure than myself. I have seen teachers come and go so often, unless they stay for more than 3 months, I don’t really remember their names anyway.

And other staff, like the lunch lady (auntie), the school bus driver, and various assistants have come and gone so much, again, I don’t even worry about their names. I am always polite and professional with them, but in a way, there’s no need in getting to know these people.

I have no investment in the business.  I am not privy to parents’ comments or suggestions.  After 10+ years, in a way (at times), I am still treated as if I just started a couple of weeks ago.  I know my students.  I know what they are capable of doing.  I know how long it takes for them to learn and use the English I teach them.  My biggest difficulty at times, is trying to convey that information, to the local teacher.  Oftentimes, the teacher that I work with, doesn’t understand English.

Over the years, we have had our ups and downs.  There are times when I’m given free reign, and other times, my leash is pulled tight.  At this particular time, my leash is being pulled in!  This is the time of year when class times and students will change.  Some will go on to another class, some will drop classes, and new students will arrive.  How the manager arranges this, is a total mystery to me.  Again, you’d think that after as many years as I’ve put in with this school, I’d have a bit of a say in how the classes should be arranged.

BUT, that is not my decision.  I do not own or have any vested interest in the business.  Not because I don’t want it, but more because the manager wants to keep things under their control.  Fair enough again.  It is their business – not mine.

I guess the only thing for me to do, is to wait out the storm, keep my temper under control, and ‘go with the flow’.  Once the summer is over, and classes are back to normal, the next time I’ll have to deal with problems, will be after Chinese New Year.

That’s it, that’s all… for now!



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