All the chaos

This post talks about what happened with the move professionally and where I am now. It might come across as a rant and you might have guessed that things didn’t go as planned.

Accepting a job remotely just based on lots of interviews and solving question papers without having a first-hand experience of the place and the audience might have been a bad shout on my side. But hey, it takes two to tango. There was an element of trust that was involved. People who hired me as a teaching faculty for their school believed me to do my job and do it well and they did offer a very good package. And I trusted them to keep up to their word on what they said my roles and responsibilities were and how my growth would be. They needed a commitment of 2 years which I was willing to provide because this was part of a growing school (international syllabus) and I was happy to be part of that journey. This made us change our plans of relocating towards the end of 2022 and we made our move much ahead of our scheduled time.

In India, the school academic year starts in June. I got an email from the school that they had teacher inset days/training days planned in May so they were expecting me by the 2nd week of May if I was available by then. They also told me of their management decision to additional responsibilities to my role. I was to be a year 6 class teacher along with being an ICT faculty for GCSE and A levels and maybe do some maths. I have already done these combinations (apart from the class teacher) in my school in London and I know how to manage my work so I said yes to it. When I landed in India, there was a training schedule sent around which was for three-plus weeks, 6 days a week training for all teachers. WTH! Why would we need almost 22 days of training to start a year? and 6 days a week at that? Wouldn’t the teacher be exhausted even before they start the school year? For the first week, I went for half a day (as I still was setting up house and had so much other stuff to do having landed only 2 weeks by then). It definitely gave an insight into the school and their philosophy. They are huge into mindfulness and are very child-focused which is a good thing and which is what I expected. To be honest, all schools should have that as part of their day-to-day functioning and most actually do. They just do it in different ways and honestly, some schools just don’t bother with it. We as teachers did a lot of art, music, movements etc. etc. which was good for team bonding and may be getting some ideas for primary and kindergarten but I wasn’t very sure why I would do this instead of my planning for higher secondary and year 6.

Even on the first day, there was some confusion as to which part of the school I belonged to, middle school (because I am not a year 6 class teacher) or upper school (GCSE and A level teacher). I was classified as a middle school teacher by the coordinator. That was a warning bell for me. Because my primary role was for upper school and additional responsibilities were for middle school, here I am roped into learning activities for my year 6 students. And also as the training days went by and the roles and responsibilities were discussed I realised that the class teacher role goes above and beyond the school. I have to be with them *all* the time and do evening special sessions, night schools, trips, home visits (that was a strict no for me) etc. It involved a lot more than what is done within the framework of the school. I wasn’t comfortable with some of them because of the travel time. Ironically, when they told me that my travel and food will be recompensated, it wasn’t explained how. They provided food and snacks (which were great!) but the travel was a sticky point as there was no pick up from my place which was furthest (almost an hour from the school). In order to get to the school, I had to travel half an hour from my place, leave my vehicle with someone, then board the school bus and do the same in the evening. Except in the evening because of the traffic, by the time we reach the last bus stop it is already two hours into the journey. I felt that if I was given the money instead of just the bus available I could have got my own vehicle and done the hour-long travel myself. But that wasn’t an option.

Apart from all the responsibilities, they also added teaching science to my list which wasn’t discussed with me. I got to know when the timetable was published. Now my days were too full to have any time to think or take a breath. This didn’t sound very healthy both for my mental and physical sanity. When the second week of training rolled by, I decided to discuss this with the concerned folks (there was confusion about whom I should be talking to… middle school coordinator or upper school coordinator… ) but they kind of brushed me saying that between the move to India and setting up house and new job I am getting stressed out unnecessarily and once I am all sorted it would be a walk in the park and that I would have support from the management to help me out. It felt like they were making this my problem rather than a mistake in their management decision. No other middle school teacher was handling any other upper school subjects so there was a clear distinction of roles and responsibilities. I was the only one who got shunted between the two sections of the schools. When I went back to them after a few days of thinking about it, they were ready to take me off the GCSE ICT teaching responsibilities and get me to do that later in the term. I was shocked to hear that because that was why they hired me in the first place. But it looked like their priorities changed when they were doing their management planning in April. Now they wanted someone to be a year 6 class teacher and since I was already hired they decided that I would be able to do it and they decided that I would be ok with it.

To say I was livid is an understatement. I don’t like being taken for granted like this and in a way abusing my trust in them. The other issue that got on my nerves was that they did not have any IT lab at all and were in the process of setting it up. Two years of online teaching and teaching by part-time staff for ICT didn’t prepare them for in-person ICT teaching. That is bad management that is, given that they introduced ICT because of popular demand from students. As a school, their philosophy is to have as much less tech in school as possible which didn’t bode well for my subject now. They were also adding training sessions on an ad-hoc basis thereby wanting me to attend a training tailored to their philosophy for a whole week including the weekends after which we were supposed to attend a school retreat. There was literally a 1-day break between three weeks. I don’t know how the other teachers do it, but I was exhausted just after a week. All the training that they had could have been done in 1 week and let the teachers do their individual planning. But they spread the training for two hours per day over 6 days and the new teachers had to do more training over the weekends. This is totally uncalled for. It looked like they didn’t give any thought to the work-life balance of the teachers especially when the school hadn’t even started yet. I had a good long discussion with Mr M about how I felt and then Mr M suggested that I think twice before continuing because when the students come in then it would be very hard for me to leave the school. It would be unfair on the students especially year 6 ones as it might be difficult to hire a new teacher by then and I might be stuck in a very unhappy job.

When my concerns went to deaf ears again, I decided to ditch the week-long training and sent a very long email to the person who hired me and also the founder of the school highlighting my concerns and my decision to leave the school. I had refrained my signing the contract when it was given to me the first week. The package was very good, the school was in a very lovely place, and the physical environment was very good too, but there was an underlying current of slight dissatisfaction and when I spoke to the other teachers, not all were happy about what’s going on, but they were happy to continue. I wasn’t. The management accepted my resignation not because of any other concerns that I had put forward but because of my travel time. That was typical and made me laugh because that was the only thing on the list that wasn’t their problem. It was my personal decision to travel that far off even though it wasn’t sustainable in the long term and I was willing to do it if the school and my work were good.

So after three weeks of training and a week, before the students were about to start their academic year, I left the school and was back in the market looking for options. Given that most schools already had done their recruitment for the current academic year, I was left with no other option other than to take a break and try for alternatives. Finally, after a month of job-hunt, I have landed a part-time teaching job so I am set for this year at least, but this experience has taught me to be careful and not trust everyone at face value especially when it comes to career changes. I have never had a career break ever since I started working many moons ago but this one-month of break (forced) was a much-needed one especially, after the move and setting up the house. All this might have been a blessing in disguise but that one month of balancing everything else (getting the move sorted, house sorted) the chaos of the job was, in hindsight, something that could have been avoided. At least I have learned my lesson and made a few friends in the process.

What a year!

This year has been a rollercoaster of sorts, hasn’t it? Never would I have thought that it would have so much packed in one year.

A friend of mine wants a refund on this year 😀 I don’t blame him. It has not been smooth sailing.

We were supposed to travel to India in April which was put on hold for a month without having any clue as to whether we would even get a refund or a credit note for the flight tickets we had paid for six months ahead of our travel date. We got our credit note finally after 3 months of our travel date. Now we don’t know if we will be in a position to use it before the deadline which is next year May. One can only hope.

The decision to move our teaching online which threw a spanner in the works making us work 8 hours per day just creating the necessary materials and videos for our delivery. I almost lost my voice doing those and then delivering the lectures as usual over online platforms. It was a double whammy, but at least the students were happy and we did very well with our third semester where everything was completely online.

I have had the experience of Working From Home (WFH) during my days working as software engineer, so the switch was quite easy for me and I found myself being very productive too. We also delivered three weeks of summer school online which concluded recently and it was also a huge success. Never would I have thought that I will be teaching a 100+ kids on Zoom about the basics of wireless networks 🙂

Mr M who has never worked from home absolutely loves it now. He would be a very happy person if he has to never set foot in his office again 😀 He loves his work, but he loves working from home more than working from office.

We did the whole bake during lockdown thing too, not as much as others seemed to do it. We couldn’t get enough flour to start with during the peak lockdown time. We also didn’t understand the whole toilet roll drama that happened. But at least we now know what people’s priorities are in case of any calamities or disasters.

We kept ourselves busy by going for regular walks around the block, trying my hand at Bingo for a Cancer charity (where I won a round too! yay!!!), have Zoom calls with friends, what not! We have managed to work well with each other in the same room without having the urge to kill each other 😉 and keeping clear of each other during the Zoom sessions (we have witnessed enough Zoom video disasters).

After working non-stop (Mr M had his three month break where he was furloughed), I took a week off and we decided to go on a mini trip in and around Swansea. We decided to do the St Thomas Way tour/pilgrimage. It was a much needed break and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Things elsewhere has not been going good has it?, the wide spread of the virus in India where my parents, siblings, and friends are, the wide spread fires and riots close to where my friends are in the US, the politicisation of the epidemic, the stupidity of the people who party as if there is no tomorrow, the sheer lack of common sense… I should say we are lucky to be in good health doing what we like to do (touch wood) and may it continue. But it is also important to realise that we can never go back to what was “normal” for us all. A new “normal” is going to take time and it is OK to have a new normal. This is one of the changes that we didn’t want but cannot ignore. We might as well wisen up and learn to adapt. We have done so for so many ages, so why not now? It is going to be hard and there will be people who will take advantage of it, but those are the ones who have always put their own prosperity before the general goodness anyway. That has never changed. What we can do is take care of our own in our own small way and hope for the best.

Stay safe and Keep smiling 🙂

Rainbow at the Marina

Oh dear!

It’s the way I feel so low
It’s the way I get up slow
It’s the way you make that awful sound
It’s the way you make me slide down
I wish it was a different one
Now I wonder why we don’t own a Diwan

I was so vexed with the leather sofa (that came with the property we are renting) that I decided to write something like a poem to rant.

Monday Musings

One of those days when suddenly something pops into your mind and refuses to go away. So I decided to tweet it and let it flutter away in the web space.

If I am ever sorry for hurting someone emotionally, it is my mom. Everyone else? They probably deserved it