Thursday, October 3: Today at work, instead of actually teaching, I spent most of my time doing classroom management. My voice was hoarse from trying to talk over boisterous and unruly students and from calling students down for disrespect to me and to their fellow students. When I left work at 5:30, I nearly drove right past Sun & Moon Yoga Studio, where I have a Thursday night beginner class, because I was so distraught and annoyed that I thought I’d rather go straight home and have a glass of wine than to go to yoga. Luckily, I didn’t succumb to that desire, but instead made myself pull in to the studio, change my clothes and force myself to go to the yoga class. It was the perfect remedy to a disheartening day.
When I taught at Northern Virginia Community College two summers ago, I had a very grown up class of mostly Korean and Chinese students: my first and most amazing college-level ESL class. The Korean young men had already served their mandatory military duty and were very keen to learn. They were studious, personable and bright. Now, returning to the college after two years away, I find the mix of students has done an about-face. Where the ESL student makeup used to be about 80% Asians, it is now about 85% Saudis and Emiratis (this is a guess from the makeup of my classes). I don’t know what happened to bring about this change, but I’m not happy about it one bit. As I know from teaching abroad in Oman for two years, the students from the Gulf are not serious about study, are very immature and disrespectful, don’t consistently attend class, and are prone to cheating. I’m not alone in my frustration at teaching these students, as other teachers at the college complain about similar issues.
One of many reasons I left Oman was because of the immaturity of the students and because of classroom management issues. In Oman, teachers didn’t have the support of the administration: the students were always right, and held great power, because their parents pulled the purse strings. The main reason I wanted to teach at the college level in general, and not at an elementary or high school, was because I expected NOT to have to deal with these issues since college students are technically ADULTS. Since Saudis and Emiratis are way behind the curve in their maturity levels, I often feel like I’m dealing with a bunch of middle-schoolers. It makes my job misery, to be honest.
I know with absolute certainty that I would never return to the Gulf to teach again, no matter how well they pay, because of these issues. I certainly did not expect to return to teaching these students in such large numbers here in the U.S. At least in Saudi Arabia, the high pay MIGHT make up for it somehow (though in my eyes, no amount of pay can compensate for having to deal with these spoiled students with their sense of entitlement). But here in Virginia, the pay is lousy and we’re not even given full-time status. It’s simply not worth it.
Right now, Asia is looking pretty darn good.
So. My yoga practice, Asian in origin, was the perfect end to a horrible day. After leaving the studio, I went to Panera Bread where I treated myself to a taste of October: butternut squash ravioli. At least a momentary escape from the misery of my day.