Friday, October 3, 2008

The unintentional decline of my professional standards:

Life here moves at a different pace: much slower. This is a place where schedules mean nothing, time is often told by the sun and while people want to do plenty of things, none of them seem to happen.
There are sometimes over-riding reasons. For example, while school has officially started, many of the students will not show up until after the rice is fully transplanted and will have to miss more class during the harvest. Then again, sometimes there are not.
I have always considered myself a motivated individual, but also am able to go with the flow when there is no sense in fighting it. I had been determined that I would be a model of professionalism, even if it didn’t matter. If I was told a meeting started at 8am, I would be there at 8am, knowing full well that it will not start until 9:30 and that even then half of the people who need to be there won’t come.
The problem is that nobody tells me about the meetings, even though I have asked many of them to do so. The person who is the community representative to work with me and PC has not been to a single one. Just this morning I was late to a meeting I didn’t know about until one of the students I have been tutoring told me “I think I saw all the teachers in the Lycèe Annexe.” Thank you Staneslace.
I have yet to be to a meeting on time. I was 20 minutes late to the first class I was supposed to teach because it was 1.5 km down the road at the other Lycèe. That was ok though, because I was the only teacher to show up in the whole school.
The Ministry of Education publishes a schedule of classes that should be followed country-wide. There are country-wide exams given here based on the Ministry’s curriculum and it is important that everyone gets equal amounts of instruction. According to that schedule, class began on the 22nd of September. So far, I think I am the only one in town to have taught a class.
I may in fact be missing a class right now. The Proviseur of the Lycèe is a hard worker and is very organized. He has been very helpful so far. He actually gave me my schedule at the Lycèe a week ago, which is how I was able to teach a few classes already. I copied it down and brought it to the Directeur CEG so there would be no scheduling conflicts. He apparently didn’t look at it. Two of the three classes he scheduled me for are in conflict with the Lycèe schedule and two are also the wrong class. I would be happy to each the different grade levels, but not at the same time as my Premier class. The result of which is that I still don’t know which classes I am going to teach or when they will be. I do know that the ones I am currently scheduled for will not have a teacher, so I can continue to go to those.
They told me, this week, just sit at home, next week you will begin teaching. That is two weeks missed already and I'll believe it when I see it.
Reflecting on my original goal to be a model of professionalism, I can now only hope that nobody has noticed all of the things I missed. Of course that is not possible. Being ‘the teacher from the U.S.’, everyone knows everything I do. And it is likely that they all know about all of the meetings too. They just don’t show up.


Anne-Marie said...

Dear Brian
I am enjoying reading your notes from Madagascar! They are giving us all an education too. Having lived in Jamaica where the pace of life is much slower than in North America, I can really identify with this letter! Everyone thought I was wonder woman there as I just went and DID what they had been talking about doing for years... all the planning was done, but no one had done it, until I did.
I wish you much success in your teaching and hope that your schedule is soon cleared up.
Best regards
Anne Marie (Bullis) in Sweden

Anonymous said...

Hi Brian, the teacher.
Fun reading about Madagascar. It sounds pre-historic. For how long will you be there?? Have you taught anything of interest??
The bugs sound icky and you just have too start stepping on them. may be they get the hint.
Have not talked to your Dad about his trip, that may happen yet. Take care

Ben said...

Sounds like that movie Dangerous Minds, but instead of rap and hardcore gangs, there's disorganization and laziness. Maybe you should put the smack down by singin' some "Gangsta's Paradise" around town. Best of luck buddy, keep the posts comin'!