My Love/Hate Relationship with Teaching

It’s been a bit longer than a month since I’ve started teaching.

About 5 weeks since we got our books and started classes in earnest.

And I must say, I’ve developed quite the relationship with teaching.  Some days it is more love.  Some days it is more hate.  But it is definitely quite the mix.

As I had expected, the students are wild.  Wild-ish? Well, the ones who started out well behaved are being more and more naughty as the weeks progress; and the ones who were bad are learning how to behave.  What is this madness? For example, the second graders are now staying in their seats (mostly) instead of running around the room…but the 9th graders are fist fighting in the front of the room in the middle of class.

What is wrong with these people?

 Of course, having no real grade to give them, no tests, and not being on the “interactive” list on the computer doesn’t help.  Honestly, my class is a bit of a joke. No one takes it seriously, and I’m starting to not take it seriously either.  And the parents aren’t too helpful most of the time either.

But for some reason, when I see my students in the hall or outside of school completely, they pay more attention to me than they do in class! They will go out of there way to say hello, sometimes spending the whole lunch period trying to speak in English!

WHY!?!?

 When we have a good lesson, or when I hear them shout “HI TEACHER!” from across the street and run up to say hi, I love being a teacher.  The hours and pay certainly don’t hurt. But when they refuse to write the answers to their book activities, even AFTER I write them on the board…play with toys in my class…run around hollering…REFUSING to stop and listen to a SINGLE WORD I SAY.

At that moment, I really hate teaching.

It’s a big learning curve, moving from young adults (university) to children.  I hope it gets easier, and I find my own rhythm, because I want this career to work.  At least in Turkey, where it’s a very cushy job.  Man, but do you earn your pay in the war grounds…I mean class room!

NOTE: Follow me on Instagram tomorrow to see a day in the life of a teacher!

Hello Turkey, Bye bye rights

Well well well, it happened again.

When I entered this private school system, I was told I was free to wear my scarf.  Lo and behold, that wasn’t the case!  Two weeks into working and I’ve been hit with new restrictions:

  1. No black scarf, ever.
  2. Nothing but turban style is accepted.

Well, when did this happen I wonder?  And why? After filtering down the chain of command, the information arrived to my fellow English teacher.  The school principal told the English Dept chair, and they told my coworker, and she told me.  I mean, it was better coming from her mouth because we’ve already formed a relationship (and bless the English chairs heart, she did NOT want to broach this subject.  She knew right away how ridiculous it was).

So after four or five instances of wearing a black turban, I was told I can’t do that anymore because it’s seen as “political”.  I’m not sure how, but ok.  Turkey is pretty crazy so it’s probably true. And I wore a more traditional style (around the neck and down the back, not covering the shoulders) once because the turban looked bad with my outfit.  Apparently that was also unacceptable.  Um…?

While I am partially mad that this is an issue at all (after having a discussion before I even started that this wouldn’t be), I’m mostly mad because this wasn’t laid out at the very beginning. This is stuff I need to know from day 1.  Maybe this info was passed on from down high, I have no idea, but I can tell you now I don’t blame the English department crew.  They had nothing to do with it.  I just don’t like changes being thrown at me like this.

The Chair even called me to make sure I wasn’t upset or thought that anyone had complained or said bad things about me. She encouraged my right to make my own choice regarding covering vs not covering, but that she had to convey this information to me.

Like I said, I’m not mad at her.  Hell, I’m grateful for being able to wear my scarf at all in a school.  And I have no intention of quitting (even though some people live in a world where they don’t need to work, and assume I live there too), because there’s not much better that I can do right now. Most other schools (hell, even most industries) won’t let me wear a scarf at all.

Because when you’re in Turkey…it’s bye bye rights.

Working Girl

I’ve been keeping this very much under wraps, but since it is all official now, I will go ahead and let you all know…

I’m a productive member of Turkish society now!

I have a job!

Yes, as you probably guessed, it’s as an English teacher. I should put that CELTA to use, right?  And when the demand for native speaking English teachers is so high, it seems silly to deny a position I could do that pays pretty well.  Yes, it’s at a private school (koleji), since the requirements for state schools are different. Will it be permanent? If I like it- sure!

While I’m here, let me give a few tips to those who are looking to be English teachers in Turkey.  If you do a quick google search, you can see that a LOT of horror stories pop up.  By no means am I a pro, but I do know a few “red flags”.

  1. Work Permit.  In order to work in Turkey under ANY profession, you need a work permit.  You are not allowed to work until it COMES IN.  If a school tells you that you don’t need a permit- they are LYING. If they say you can start working after applying for a permit, they are LYING.  If they say you need to pay for your permit out of pocket- they are LYING! The only thing you have to pay (and even then, they should pay for it) is the fee that comes after you’ve been approved for the work permit (lsat year it was 200TL).  And they should be doing the application for you.  If any of these things come up, that’s a big red flag.
  2. Not requiring any certification.  Some schools say that you don’t need a certificate (or a good one) to teach “conversational” English because it’s not grammar and whatnot.  That may be kind of true, but it is sketch AS HELL.  If they don’t want a certificate from you for teaching (or they accept a sketchy one that has no clout), you may want to be wary about that position.
  3. Sign a contract you don’t understand.  A lot of schools will give you a contract in Turkish, even though you don’t speak the language.  Some may have a version in English, but not many do.  If they don’t give you time to have someone help you translate the contract, or give you time to think about it or seek outside counsel, then run.  Hell, even if they say they will explain it for you…you don’t know them! They may not tell you the whole truth!  It is your right to understand the contract before you sign it*.
  4. Unwilling to budge.  It they tell you xyz is part of the work they expect you to do, but your contract says otherwise…make a note on your contract.  If they won’t allow you to make changes (which, like the US, is legally binding when written in) even though they SAID that xyz is your actual case, then be wary.  They will say that each contract is standard because they are a corporation- but you have every right to make changes in pen.  If they won’t do it, then they are likely planning to hold you to the standards written in the contract- even if they say otherwise.

These are more than just my own findings.  While taking my CELTA I sought the advise of other English teachers in Turkey, and they confirmed my own thoughts.  While Turkey is a great country that I think everyone should experience once, it is just like anywhere else…and will take advantage of the naive.  Do your research and be prepared when looking for a teaching job here!  I believe there is a blacklist out there for native English teachers, where others list schools where they had a bad experience.

Good luck!

*in Turkish labor law, it is stated that you cannot be held to a contract you don’t understand/ was wrongly explained to you.  However, if you leave your job because of unfair work conditions or a contract you didn’t understand, you’ll lose your work permit/residency permit and have to leave the country.  So be forewarned!

 

The job hunt has begun!

Hello my dear friends/ followers- I have some exciting (ish?) news!  I have been sitting on my backside long enough…and I am on the look-out for a job!

6 months of nothing is just…it’s enough.

 As is the case for everything in Turkey, word of mouth is the best way to get your news out there.  If anyone knows of/works at a school looking for native english speakers to teach English in the Izmir area- let me know!

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Thanks in advance!