by Anne Hendler
“Anne!” My boss, Grace, calls me as I’m on my way home. “Are you still near the school? Can you come back?”
Inwardly, I sigh. It’s Friday night and my week is over. “Sure. Just a sec.”
She meets me at the door. I’m a little nervous because she had just observed two of my classes, something she rarely does. “Can I borrow your book?” Grace asks. “I told the high schoolers about the debate your classes had and they want to try it out.”
I’m surprised, but I fish out the book and hand it over.
She smiles. “Thank you for your hard work. Always.”
She goes back to her class.
My boss notices when I do extra work. When I organise a debate or make a test, she sees. She’s a teacher herself, so she is aware of the time and effort that go into the extra things. And she never fails to say thank you.
“Come and see!” Jessica, the only other regular staffroom teacher walks into my room with a big smile. I follow her out to her own classroom, where she’s posted the paragraphs and pictures the students have made on the wall. She describes the effort they put into the work and how proud she is of them. Jessica is our school’s Korean ‘English grammar teacher’, one of the quirks of ELT in Korea. But she means so much more than that to me and our school.
Another day: “How was your class?” I ask as Jessica sits down.
She sighs. “One student lost his temper.”
“I bet I can guess who.” I sigh, too.
Our biggest challenges are classroom management with the younger students. But we share them and talk through them together. We have a supportive work environment.
The four of us make a dedicated, hard-working team. I teach five days a week. Jessica and Grace teach six. Our boss’s husband teaches seven. We all work over 30 hour weeks. We all bring our work home to prepare classes and find, create, or adapt materials. And the thing I wish we had: more time and space to prepare for each day. Or maybe, just maybe, some extra help.