Maybe this doesn’t come as much of a surprise to you. It certainly wouldn’t if you’d been around me the last few weeks and listened to my endless grumbles of “I don’t get paid enough for this” or “I’m not here to play Hilary Swank to a bunch of unmotivated, ungrateful punks.”
Because besides the fact that I was working 50 plus hours a week for the equivalent of 12 dollars a day, I was horribly stressed out. It turns out that International schools in Guatemala (or at least the one I worked for) are big fans of pointless paperwork. In addition to having to submit detailed lesson plans for review each and every week, I also had to submit weekly progress reports for each of my students and an up-to-date list of all homework assignments or tests I’d given that week. Which meant that I was often up late into the night typing up lesson plans or grading essays. It was exhausting.
But all of that would have been acceptable had the school been willing to negotiate my workload a bit. One afternoon, near tears, I confronted my boss about it.
“I can’t teach them. I just can’t.” I said, sniffling through my cold. I was referring to my sophomore English class, a group of disrespectful slackers who talked or slept through class, cheated on all their tests and never did their homework. I was the sixth teacher they’d had in four months and a month into the job, I held the record for one who’d held out the longest. Most of the teachers had quit after only two weeks and one hadn’t even survived two days.
I laid out my case carefully. I was a good teacher. My boss thought so. My students did. And I’d received a number of compliments from the parents. But this was just too much work for me to handle. I explained how I didn’t have any free time to study Spanish or volunteer or even do my laundry. I then asked if I could reduce my hours and only teach in the mornings. I enjoyed my morning classes (teaching first and second graders) but dreaded my afternoon high school classes.
“They don’t want to learn. I’ve tried everything…songs, games, movies. I’ve tried being fun, I’ve tried being strict. I just can’t get through to them.”
But my boss refused to negotiate.
And so I quit.