That’s right! On Friday afternoon, as I was on the bus to Valencia for vacation, I got a call that I was fired from both my after-school academy classes. Supposedly my students were complaining about my class to their parents, so their parents forced the academy to find another teacher for my classes.
Thankfully this job was a fraction of my income, but it feels personal and came as quite a surprise. I had no idea my students’ parents and my academy were having this conversation behind my back. I was never consulted, nor did I receive notice. I waved goodbye to one of my students’ parents on Thursday, and he wished me a good weekend. Little did I know that was my last day. I will never return to that school or see my students again.
I’m also angry about the situation because I was set up for failure. I began with no teaching experience, and the promised monthly teacher trainings never happened. I had to ask my academy to send someone to observe my classes and give me feedback so I could be a better teacher. In a letter of recommendation one of my coordinators wrote me for a freaking Master in Teaching program, she said I was the only one of their employees to seek this kind of advice outside work. The coordinator at my school’s only advice was to yell more and be more strict, and then I was fired—I believe—for being too mean.
I was always on time. I was commended for my student reports. I translated between my English-speaking coworkers and our Spanish-speaking coordinator. A couple weeks ago, when I was in bed sick and had pink eye, I went to teach my class anyway because my academy couldn’t come up with a sub.
Maybe it comes down to spoiled kids and their parents having the final word. My fifth and sixth graders were the worst. They didn’t want to do work in my class. (Granted, it was at the end of a long, eight-hour school day, and they were exhausted.) They argued with me—a native English speaker—about English grammar rules, they asked me to go to the bathroom and locked themselves in the stalls, they cried and complained when their team lost a classroom game, they lied about forgetting their books, they wrote on the board while I was talking… You get the idea.
While I don’t want to go where I’m not wanted, I’ll miss the teaching opportunity. My main job is merely a teaching assistant; I seldom get to lead the class.
The extra income I’ll miss is the real reason for my anger. I was counting on €€ to travel through Ireland over spring break and have a cushion of savings in case I have trouble landing a job in Seattle this summer.
I know everyone’s been fired for a dumb reason, and I must except the life circumstances that don’t live up to my expectations.
I learned a lot about teaching in little time. Perhaps most important is the lesson of starting off strict and then getting softer on the rules. I did the opposite. When the academy director taught my class last week, she seemed to express it was “too late” to get my students to behave.
I should receive more information this week from the coordinator who hired and fired me. I’m not too curious to know the details of my firing, but I want to know what I can do differently to prevent it next time.