Archive | May, 2014

Update:

26 May

One of my best friends Zach is currently here & tomorrow we will embark on an 9 day journey around Rome, Florence, Pisa & Paris!

Afterwards I will come back to Prague for SIX MORE DAYS before I head home to USA!

Get ready for some crazy blog posts!

-JG ūüôā¬†

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Pour Some Out For My Homies

17 May

Update: I AM FREE.

After one of the most bizarre weeks ever with my (ex) boss displaying some of the oddest behavior (lurking around my classroom in the dark, crazy bi-polar personality changes, ‘forgetting’ to pay me until 4 days after pay day…), I made it.¬†Barely though.¬†I had my school keys already taken off the main key ring, had tossed all my un-used worksheets into the scrap paper pile & was just finishing up my final class when she decided to¬†twist the knife deeper¬†& completely devoid any shred of guilt I felt about quitting.¬†

We had literally 2 minutes left of class, & I told the students to start cleaning up. Post quitting celebratory drinks with Gillian & Filip at our favorite pub were already arranged & I could not GTFO of there fast enough. When all of a sudden, this woman comes into my room.

“Hi, I am looking for Jessica.”

“Uh, yeah, that’s me.”

“My daughter has a private lesson with you right now.”

Um what.

See this is what I am talking about, this is why I despise my boss so much. She is so damn inconsiderate. She NEVER mentioned this lesson, never asked if I was free for the lesson, NEVER EVEN BROUGHT IT UP. Yet she made this poor woman & her daughter drive all the way across the city in rush hour traffic. 

“Um, I had no idea about this lesson, I’m sorry, I have plans, I can’t do it.”

Suddenly, what do you know, my phone is ringing & it’s my boss telling me she has a problem & forgot to tell me & begs me just to sit & talk to this little girl for 10 minutes just to see what level she is. And reluctantly, I agree.

But I am so glad I did.

This girl was adorable, smart & way too advanced in the English language to be wasting her time at such a horrible school that only wanted her money. Talking to her for those 10minutes made me realize, while I was estactic about quitting my teaching job, I was really going to miss teaching. So I wanted to write a post to give some special shout outs to some of the little ones who have changed me over these past 9 months.

Kamila, 4,

One of the most well-behaved Montessori children I have ever encountered. I am not sure if you are aware of the Montessori teaching style but it mostly results in unruly children who don’t understand the concept of sharing or being directed by a superior. But Kamila did. She always chattered away in long sentences in Czech to me, like I understood any of it, to which I always responded with an excited “Wow! Okay!” That always made her smile.¬†

Veronika, 5,

Another great Montessori kid who would always greet me with a huge hug when I would pick up her class downstairs. She loved to make little art projects & always wore the same pink dress over her clothes. She is one of the kids who, from early on, instinctively always went to hold my hand as we were walking up the stairs to our classroom.

Filip, 2, 

My youngest student, but also one of the most improved. I would have an hour long one-on-one class with him because every other child who attempted to enter the class was not as mature and often left crying & screaming. ‘Fifi’ as he called himself blew my mind every week when he would greet me at the start of class saying ‘Monkeys jump, monkeys jump!’ (Referring to the 10 Little Monkeys Song) He was like a sponge, repeating EVERYTHING I said & actually¬†remembering & understanding.¬†He would tackle me & hug me & his favorite sentence by the end of the year became: “Fifi is crazy! But Jessica is crazy too!”

Prokop & Elias, 5,

These two extremely hyper blonde best friends originally did an observation class in one my most calmest classes. The results were awful. The tackled each other & Prokop “Rocky” left crying with a bumped head. I was weary when my boss created a special class with only these two boys, but it worked out great. I mirrored their energy & after every snack time for 10 minutes they would chase me around the room pretending to be Iron Man or Spiderman. Their final class with me consisted of me painting their faces like transformers.¬†

THE BEST CLASS: Vivi, 5, Luisa, 5, Diana, 5, Lauren, 4, Sophia, 5, Hermina, 3.

I loved coming to this class every week & simply referred to them as ‘my girls’. They were not only all extremely smart but they all loved me & listened to me. They would all come in with homework completed, follow directions & give me big hugs when they left. They loved to point at me & say I was various items they had for snack that day. They thought it was hilarious. My biggest victory as a teacher came around March when all the girls (even little Hermina who is basically a baby my boss stuffed in the class because her mom already paid) said their first sentence. Going over family vocab & I said: “Me, I have 2 brothers, do you have a brother?” They all went around the room responding USING THE CORRECT PLURALIZATION “I have 1 brother”, “I have 2 brothers” “I have no brothers”¬†I have never been so proud.

Pata, 8,

The mature & smart older sister of little Honza, a boy who was too unruly to be in class, Pata was very responsible. She always did her homework correctly & just loved to learn English. She would often ask for copies of worksheets we did to practice further at home & impressed me with her improvement each class.

Eliska, 8,

Sweet & shy, Eliska was also one of the strongest in her class. She would always come in with her long brown hair in 2 braids & would wear cute little skirts. She also loved to learn English, but was also an amazing artist. Many of the homework assignments I asked her to do are still hanging on my wall & will continue to in USA just because she is that talented. 

Andrea, 4,

This little spit fire who began the class shy & quiet certainly came out of her shell. She is the one who would joke at snack time that her water bottle was actually filled with alcohol. She especially thought it was hilarious to sneak up and take the pillow I sit on at circle time. I will miss her for her wonderful personality & her cute little metallic rhinestone outfits she would rock each class. 

Danny, 4,

Another one who began extremely shy but soon found his place. Danny is the little boy who was so excited about the weekend he accidentally peed his pants. He was so adorable & fit in perfectly with his class. His mom, who was a sweetheart, would always whisper to him at snack time in Czech to offer me a piece of the chocolate he was eating. That’s one way to definitely get on my good side!

Ivan, 5, 

One of my all-time favorites, I can remember Ivan all the way back from the open house in September when I played board games with him & his little mini-me brother, Boris. His family soon became one of my favorites as well, with his mom always asking me about me & gifting me with an amazing (expensive!) box of chocolates on Christmas. Ivan loved spiderman & dinosaurs & we just completely formed a bond. He would always sit next to me at snack time & even when he got a little fresh mid-way through the year, all I had to do was give him a look. He was one of the few kids who felt bad about misbehaving because he knew it upset me. I will miss him very much & will always save the slightly lopsided self-portrait he drew for me.

Dori, 8, & Tobi, 6,

A sister & brother with SO MUCH energy. Whenever my 3 hour Friday class was quiet you knew it was because these two were absent. But as much as Dori would get upset & cry sometimes or Tobi would throw a temper tantrum & hit another student, they were such sweet children. Dori loved to act like a big sister to all the other kids in the class & Tobi was OBSESSED with playing Plants Vs. Zombies on my computer. Their mother is blind & they would always come & go from class linking arms with her on both sides. Even when Gillian was still teaching at the school, she loved these two, & when she quit they were the only 2 kids who asked about her. Dori would give me a big hug & kiss on the cheek when she would leave & Tobi would always want to hug me & sit on my lap while we watched videos (all completely normal/allowed student-teacher behavior here). Often if I was leaving the school the same time they were we would walk to the tram together & they would hold my hands. These children genuinely loved me & their parents said they would not be able to sleep on Thursdays because they were so excited for English class.

See, I really do love my students & some of them I will never forget. As much as I completely dreaded coming to work somedays because of my crazy boss or unpredictable parents, my students made it all worth it. They made me laugh & smile. I would chase them around the room, we would have tickle fights & then they would amaze me & make me so proud with their English. 

When I quit I wanted to make sure that the parents knew that.

It is unfortunate that my working situation was so awful–but I wanted the parents to know that I wasn’t leaving because of their children. So I sent out an e-mail to all the parents from my school e-mail address saying what a pleasure it was teaching their children. I wished them all luck on their future with the English language & said¬†how proud I was of all of them.¬†And its true. I can remember from all my years as a student some of the great teachers that I had. They inspired me & I will never forget them.

& I just hope that at least one of those kids remembers that blonde American teacher from some weird place called ‘Massachusetts’ who loved to draw horses & sing about monkeys.

ūüôā

-JG 

Learning To Hold Your Own

10 May

So, it’s 4am right now on a Friday night in the Czech Republic & I just cannot sleep. It’s not because I just got in from a crazy European party, it’s not because I am currently AT a crazy European party, & it’s not because I am about to go to one. I am awake right now at 4am on a Friday because I just woke up from a nightmare about my real-life nightmare: my job.¬†

Based on some of my past posts about teaching, you probably think I hate it.¬†Wrong, I actually love it.¬†I realized children are awesome, I am DEFINITELY a ‘kids person’ (those totally exist & you either are or aren’t one), & I really just enjoy the job of passing on my language knowledge to these little ones. Don’t tell anyone but I¬†totally¬†have some students who are my favs. They amaze me with their wit, make me laugh with their antics & some have also¬†really impressed me¬†with their improvements with English. I look forward to seeing them each week & the time we spend together.

Someone I definitely DO NOT look forward to seeing each week? My boss.

I don’t really know how to describe her fully without completely breaking my blog’s ‘PG-13’ rating, so I will let your imaginations run wild, dear readers.¬†

Let’s just say this woman opened a flashy language school with misspelled signs on the wall, breakable props hanging from the ceiling & a wifi box resting in a bed of wires when all she really cares about is not the students –but¬†their parent’s money.

If you have ever had a bad work experience with a boss, then you know how terrible this is. Let me tell you, if the root of your awful boss experience was their obsession with money then that is the most terrible of all. Some bosses just want you to do crazy things like come in to work with a 100degree fever, or risk your life driving through a blizzard or miss out on holidays, birthdays & general priceless memories just so they can make a little more profit at your expense. 

And it is absolutely disgusting.

Some people are just like that & as long as you’re working for them it will remain that way. Because bosses like this¬†will never change.¬†No matter how many extra hours you work, no matter how many shifts you cover, no matter how many times you compliment them on their tie or ask about their vacations¬†they will never remember it.¬†But do you know what they¬†will¬†remember? A time you called out sick, a time you showed up late or a time they caught you slacking off. Yup, they never forget that.

So you are then faced a choice: should I stay or should I go?

Image

You may want to stay because of¬†the job.¬†It’s secure, it’s well-paying, you worked so hard to earn it that you just don’t want to¬†throw it all away.¬†You think you can¬†handle your boss.¬†You think you can ignore them, or not take their cruelness so personally. Because you will have to deal with people like that in life, right?¬†Wrong.

You don’t¬†have to¬†do anything. And personally, I feel like working even your dream job can be completely ruined by having a bad boss. Trust me, it happened to me. Because you can¬†ignore them¬†but you really can’t. They will be calling you in on weekends, piling more stacks of work on your desk &¬†just generally giving you a constant feeling like you are not one bit appreciated.¬†If you want to spend your life like this, be my guest.¬†

But just so you know there are¬†great bosses out there too.¬†Bosses who appreciate their employees, bosses who take your side of the story & bosses who don’t take 3-4days to give you your paycheck & then gyp you out of some of it anyway (yup).¬†

So if you decide you no longer want to stay, then¬†it’s time to go.¬†

One thing you should think about before quitting is¬†how this will affect your lives.¬†Both you & your boss’s. In some cases, you really are just a number that can be easily replaced, but in certain situations, you actually have¬†much more power than your boss will ever give you credit for.¬†How do you have power you ask?

By doing a damn good job at your job. 

If you are an asset to your company/store/work team then when you finally decide to leave¬†it will cause a gap.¬†Even if you don’t think so. Especially if you have a good relationship with co-workers. People remember &¬†miss¬†ex-employees who were good leaders, reliable & hard-working. Why?¬†Because not everyone is one.¬†Not everyone is a leader or has a high level of skill in their profession, so when those people walk away¬†the entire dynamic changes.

Another plus of these types of people choosing to leave their job is that it sends a pretty powerful message. You may not think so but anyone who finally stops complaining about their unhappiness & actually does something about it is quite brave.

I can remember when I first met my boyfriend, Filip, & he was working in a laptop factory. He hated the job but hated his boss even more. After dealing with it for a long time, the final straw was when his boss became extremely unethical to other employees & demanded he work not only 7-5 five days a week but weekends too.¬†And he just basically said ‘F**k you’ & just quit.¬†

I don’t think I have ever admired someone so much. (After a month he found a GREAT new job fixing the Prague trams & is now happy) He did something I had fantasized about doing for so long but was reluctant to do.¬†Why?¬†Not because I was afraid I wouldn’t find a new teaching job, no, those are easy to get here, but because I didn’t want to rock the boat. I didn’t want to start over somewhere new when I was all settled. I didn’t want to leave my students. I thought it would get better.

But you know why I really think I settled for late paychecks, crazy schedule changes & the passive aggression for so long, dear readers?¬†It’s because I thought I deserved it.

Yes, it sounds awful. I thought I was young, inexperienced, foreign & I had to settle for this job. I thought recent college graduates had to go through all this mistreatment because¬†we’re the bottom of the¬†totem¬†pole.¬†We know nothing about ‘the real world’ or the work place or life.¬†

Writing that right now just made me realize how completely stupid it sounds. Because no one deserves that. 

If you show up to work on time, prepare things ahead of time, do your job & especially if you go the extra mile–you should not be treated like a slacker. The more & more people put me down¬†inside or outside the classroom simply because of my age the more I realize this stigma is complete B.S.¬†

Age means nothing. I know people in their 20s who have done more than people in 40s. Age is not synonymous with maturity. And I am so COMPLETELY fed up with my entire generation being put down like this. Yes, there are always the idiots who perpetuate every awful stereotype, but then there are those 22-year-olds who move alone across the world.

Age means nothing. Experience means everything. Work ethic means everything.¬†Because work ethic grows & builds.¬†Without a good work ethic, I don’t care how old you are¬†you’re not going to hold on to that job very long.¬†

So if you know you’re a good worker, act like it.

Stand up for yourself. Don’t let your passion for your job or your skills be¬†wasted¬†on someone who doesn’t appreciate them, or even worse, forces you to¬†hate your job!¬†Chalk it up to a growing experience, but know when it’s time to walk.

And now is my time.

So dear readers, after 9 months of being denied vacations, being bad-mouthed to parents, being provided no supplies, & an overall complete lack of guidance it’s time for me to stop talking the talk & to start walking the walk.

Next week, I am going to quit my job.

-JG