I was teaching my class, Papaya, about bathroom, so I had brought soap, shampoo, and toilet paper as props for class. The toilet paper was a convenient prop. Nate and I had both developed head colds so it came in handy well before class.
“Do you need the medicine?” Candy asked me as my toilet paper roll rapidly grew thinner.
“Probably,” I replied, “but I don’t know what to buy because I can’t read the labels!”
“Ah, Lainey will take you.” She turned to Lainey who had just entered the room, arms full of lesson materials “Lainey you will take Jen-nifer to buy the medicine ok?”
“AYAH, ten minutes!” Lainey cried, “Ten minutes!
“Oh it doesn’t have to be now,” I cried surprised they even mentioned it during work hours, “whenever you’re ready.”
We walked to a small shop a block away from the school, “This is medicine place. See the cross.” Lainey told me. We went inside. It was a small thin shop, its walls filled with all kinds of bottles and boxes with labels that I could not read. Lainey talked to the doctor for a bit in Chinese. The doctor placed three bottles of pills on the counter. It sounded like Lainey began to argue with the doctor sounded, but at this point I was starting to get used to the harsh tones of the language. Lainey paused every once and a while to ask me my symptoms “Do you have a headache?” “Do you have a fever?” “Your throat is it sore?” after each question she would argue/talk with the doctor more until one type of medicine came out on top.
My class, Papaya was rough, they struggled to learn the new vocab, and then struggled even more with the sentences even though we were repeating the same sentences as last week only with a “him” or “her” instead of an “I”. I called break 10 minutes early feeling as though I was not going to get any farther without giving them a few minutes for the concepts to sink in. Shirley, who had been an awesome CT so far, took over the class, forced the kids to stay in their seats, and made each of them say the sentence before break. Half of them couldn’t do it no matter how much she bullied them. I was not impressed.
I talked to Shirley briefly during break, which put us back on better grounds for the rest of class. The children struggled painfully to present the sentences during the parent presentation, and afterwards I had one mother come up to me and voice her concerns in bad English. “I would like if do more repetition, and more pronunciation. I would like to learn pronunciation.” I tried to explain to her that in fact the entire class was repetition and pronunciation, but she did not understand. In the end I thanked her for her input.
“Jen-nyfer!” Candy called to me after class, “Quickly, quickly, we will have a talk.” She pulled me aside into an empty classroom.
“The parents are complaining,” Candy began once I was seated in one of the tiny yellow chairs we have for our students, “They are not happy with your teaching method.” she went on to explain, “So we think we will change some of your classes.” The door opened and in walked Vick, who took a seat next to Candy.
“Which classes?” I asked, completely thrown off guard.
“It is the Papaya and the Beyonce.”
Vick leaned forward, she was my Chinese teaching partner in Beyonce, “The parents are very picky,” She told me, “Always complain. Every teacher they complain. Even Kaya they complain, now they ask for Kaya. Next week maybe ask for you.”
Picky parents I could understand, “Let me talk to them,” I said feeling considerably calmer, “I just need someone to translate. I’ve only had two classes with them so far.” I’d also not had any training for the higher level classes, like Beyonce, and so had been using Vick’s teaching method built from her lesson plans, and I was eager to modify it to something more interactive.
“We will change the class,” Candy said, “The parents think maybe not so interactive, maybe talk to fast. You should have the energy like the Katrina.”
“Just give me another week,” I said feeling an overwhelming urge to fight off tears. “I’ve only been here for two weeks, I’m not used to the time change yet, and I’m sick. I just need a week, and I’ll have more energy,” this was also the first time I’d heard a complaint, so up until now I’d had no idea there was a problem.
“Maybe more energy and the parent still not so happy,” Vick replied, “It is the same with the Papaya class, the parents also very picky. And the parents they all talk.”
This back and forth went on for a long time, “Look,” I finally said looking at Candy, “I have worked with many picky parents. If you let me talk to them I can make them feel better, but two weeks is not long enough to switch teachers. Of course if the school decides to switch teachers then that is their decision, but it would be better to let me talk to the parents first.
We finally left the classroom, but I was still fuming. They wanted to switch both Beyonce and Papaya to a different teacher, leaving me with only one group of kids two times a week. I already felt stir crazy sitting in the office for so long, and now I would have next to nothing to do!