Fourteen days ago, I extended my contract to stay in Korea.
Eight days later, I changed my mind and voided that contract.
By doing so, I won’t have a job as of September 1st. I usually would think nothing of not having prospective options but for some reason, I am annoyed about this. I am not worried but I feel that at this point of my life, I should have a more concrete idea of what the hell I want.
Like always, I have no idea. This infinite process of trial and error continues…
I am now certain that I don’t want to be a teacher. I reached this conclusion because I have the same problem now in Month Ten of this job that I had in Week One. I constantly take out my frustrations about the staff and administration on my students and it’s grossly unfair to them. It’s not a conscious decision but I am often frustrated with the system and I then wind up snapping on some fifteen year old kid.
This happened again last week. I was tested and angered by my co-teachers and some students from 9am till 2pm and shortly thereafter I flipped out on some poor kid who wasn’t even misbehaving or being noisy, but couldn’t understand me. He was sitting there quietly and not tearing his paper in half like I had asked about ten times and demonstrated twice. I told him to look around. He didn’t understand me. I told him to look at everyone’s papers half the size of his. I shouted and shook my paper frantically. He stared at me, completely bereft of emotion or understanding. I ran to his desk, picked up his paper, crumpled it into a ball, threw it in his face and threw him out of class. I still cannot believe I did this. His only mistake was not understanding me. Which isn’t a mistake. He didn’t do anything wrong. Two minutes later, I went outside and he was facing the wall and visibly upset and confused. I told him to join the class again. When I brought him in, I couldn’t even look at him and I had to leave class, disgusted with myself. It turned out he is one of the most quiet boys in school and I still can’t get him to say a word to me. I apologized to him after class and told my co-teacher to tell him in Korean that it was my mistake and I had a bad day. But really, who cares? People have bad days. That doesn’t give them the right to displace their anger and humiliate others. That kid probably thinks I’m a total asshole and he is right. Cos to him, I have to be. How could I not? If you think about it, the only thing I taught him that day is that it’s okay for adults to become angry and throw things at children. Not my finest hour.
If I can’t control myself then I am no better than a child and probably worse than half of them. Two weeks ago, I felt that leaving school was quitting on my students but I am now absolutely convinced that they will be better off with a new teacher, some one who will almost certainly be more patient, committed and able to make a difference. Since I told my school I am leaving, the teachers have all been complimenting me a lot. The staff asks me to stay and the word they all use to describe me as a teacher is “sincere”. That means a lot to me because I think sincere is one of the best things anyone can be in this life. Although I am nowhere as efficient as I wish, for the school to recognize that I have given my sincere best everyday is very gratifying. Still, I realize that sincerity is not enough. Far from it.
Teaching is great. The joy of getting something through to someone is very rewarding and trumps any “success” I have had at any other job. This job has left me looking forward to having my own children because I would love to teach them, but while doing something else for a career.
It’s strange knowing I will probably never see any of these boys again. I wonder if they will achieve their dreams and what they will be like when they grow up and have girlfriends and things like that.
I wind up missing everyone . I miss everybody. Leaving all these boys behind is going to be difficult. I imagine I will wonder about them the rest of my life.
I suppose being a teacher is about giving it all and then letting go.
It’s a tough business. Maybe the toughest there is. Too tough for me.