It’s only May but it has begun, the chaos at the of the school year.
I teach first grade boys in a gender segregated school. This means that boys have class on one side of the building and girls have class on the other. There are doors and security guards in between. This is because the school I teach at is in Kuwait, a Muslim country, and is a conservative school. Some school segregate at grade 5, we do it at grade 1.
School ends June 6th for the elementary students this year, because that is the beginning of Ramadan, the holy month of sacrifice. At this time of year Muslims do not let anything pass their lips from sun up to sun down. This means no food, water, or smoking between the hours of about 4:30 to 7:30. People do this so they understand what it feels like to be poor, to be hungry and thirsty. This is also when people give to charity and the poor.
The boys know the end is near. They know they are going to grade 2, even if they slack off and get bad grades now. They know their parents no longer care about their behaviour, they know the teachers are looking forward to the end. They are too. Now they want to play, they want to talk, they want to call out, and the fights are on the rise.
The trick is the boys know I don’t speak much Arabic. They know they can insult each other in Arabic when my assistant is not there. They know that there will be no more suspensions or parent meetings. They know if they get in enough trouble their parents will just pull them for the rest of the year.
They are driving me crazy. My good boys are turning bad and my bad boys are monsters. They are cute and I love them but they are monsters. They fight because they can, there is some new bullying going on. It’s going to be tough to break them of it before year end. Then it’s 3 months of summer for them and they will come back as savages after 3 months with few rules and boundaries.
The students are not the only thing causing chaos. My teachers have also decided that to escape the crazy they will take their sick days. In the last week I have had two days with more than 4 people absent in our 10 teacher team. We have two substitutes to serve all of elementary. On a day like today when there are 7+ people out in the school the substitutes are not enough.
Now we are lucky because we have Teaching Assistants and they can take the class for the day. When I tell them though all I hear is “But Ms. my breaks”, “Ms. I can not control them.”, “Ms. please find someone to come teach the class.” etc. I hate to tell you I am just the messenger, I can’t do much except borrow another assistant from somewhere.
Then we find out computer based classes are cancelled to do computer base testing in the labs this week. This means that now some of my teachers really don’t get breaks. In between my own teaching and meetings and all the rest I have to run from class to class and make sure there is an adult in the room. I have to find out where missing teachers are. I have to find people to be in the room if the assistant is late or leaves early for breast feeding.
That’s right, you get 40 days off for maternity leave and after you return you get two years of breast feeding leave where you get two hours each day to go home and feed the baby. I’m glad it’s supported but it only adds to the chaos.
Then there is the chaos of report cards. We have to begin work on those to have grades and comments ready before the honour roll ceremonies May 30-June 2. So around going to other classes to check on people, teaching my class, teaching absent teachers classes, meetings, and tutoring I still have to prep report cards.
Once the students leave and teachers have 3 weeks on their own their is more chaos. I have to get my team lead replacement ready for next year. I have to get all the planning done for next year. I have to get things uploaded online and make classes. I have to have meeting up the wazoo to get everything ready.
Even after school the chaos continues. I have to search for jobs in Canada from abroad. If they want to interview I have to ruin my sleep schedule to meet when they are available. I have to sort through where the schools are, what pay would be like in relation to housing. It is so chaotic.
I can’t wait for the school year to be over, to have a job and to begin the chaos that is travel in Europe.