Starting work- Part One

I think moving myself halfway round the world has finally started to catch up with me. I’m so SLEEPY, all I want to do is climb into bed most of the time. Yesterday I took my first nap since I arrived a month ago. I usually try to avoid napping but I think I would have fallen asleep where I was standing if I hadn’t decided to give in and take a nap.

I’ve started working—twice. It’s a long story, and could be part of the reason for my exhaustion. I started working last Monday, but on my very first day not a single one of my students showed up. My school had placed me in the corporate headquarters of one of their clients so apparently it’s not unusual for students to cancel if they are busy at work. So at 10:30 in the morning a car came to pick me up. Apparently this is usual, they have shuttles or send cars for teachers who are working in locations that are not near public transportation. As soon as I walked in the door of the office the administrative assistant looked up and told the Director of Studies my students had just canceled. I was supposed to have two one-on-one students for 2 hours each, so that was four hours of work gone. Then I was supposed to have a two-hour break before my next class, a group of five. They didn’t want to pay someone to take me home and bring me back, and when I suggested I would pay for a cab (six hours of sitting in a room with no windows was unappealing) they said the cabdrivers probably wouldn’t know where to go so unless I could direct them back to the office, I should stay. Trying to be a good sport on my first day I said OK, and tried to keep myself busy familiarizing myself with the scant materials they had and playing with my laptop.

I went to the canteen for lunch (free for teachers and company employees, any five items you want), and then had coffee with a few people from the school. I’m really happy with the school because all the teachers seem smart and personable, several have been with the school for a few years, and all have nothing but good to say about how they’ve been treated.

After some more creative time-wasting it was finally time for my evening class so I went to the room, set it up, wrote notes on the board, and sat down and waited for my students. And waited. After 20 minutes I went to see the director, telling him no one was there. He said, “You’re kidding. That probably means they’re not coming.” I waited another ten minutes and gave up, told him I was ready to go home, and asked how I get a car. At first he told me I would probably have to wait an hour or two since all the cars were out taking everyone else home. I tried not to freak out, as I had been sitting in this building doing nothing for about seven hours at this point. But he did manage to find me a car, bringing my first day of “work” to an end.

Tuesday they didn’t have any classes for me yet, but Wednesday’s schedule was supposed to be the same as Monday’s so I went back, wondering what would happen. Happily, my two students appeared-- finally I can say I have teaching experience! I liked both students very much and thought the lessons went fine, although of course I hope to get better and be more comfortable as time goes on. Right now the most difficult thing for me is estimating how much time each activity will take, and also coming up with activities for only one student as most activities are geared toward pairs and groups.

After my classes I did some more prep work for the evening class and 15 minutes before class was to start the director asked me to join a meeting with all the other teachers. I looked at my watch but he said, “don’t worry, it will be quick” so I went and joined them. He announced that our contract with the company had been suspended for six weeks—not the contract with the school, we were assured we still had jobs with the school—for various reasons. We were told we would all be placed at other locations but they didn’t know where or what the schedules would be yet as this decision had just been made late last night. Thankfully this school pays a monthly salary, not by the hour as some of the others do, and I asked around and all the teachers told me that yes, they will pay us, they are dependable. I know not all the schools are, so I am grateful to find that these teachers are all very happy and secure here.

Needless to say, my evening class for that night was canceled and we all packed up our laptops and personal items, made our way to the shuttles and off we went. Thus ended my first week of teaching, as no one had classes Thursday since we all had to be in the main office for training and then a boat trip up the Bosphorous.

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