For years, I have dedicated myself in teaching English. In Indonesia or maybe in other countries as well, being a teacher is not a well-paid job, but it is quite prestigious. Being a teacher means that you are an academic, means that you are an intelligent, and people love that. I, myself, have gone through some situations where I was low paid in the name of searching for experiences. It took me years to have got a quite reasonable salary. Not to mention that I am now highly paid, still, regarding to my working hours, it is not humanly acceptable.
I work in an after-school English course, an English-speaking one. I teach fully in English. My job starts in the afternoon, meaning that I always come home at night. Though I am only a teacher, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is an easy job where you just bring books and yourself to the class. Other than that, you have to be a creative one to implement any teaching methods in the class. As a result, at least two hours before my teaching time, I have to prepare my lesson plans and any supplementary materials to be used in the class.
I work in a quick pace environment. The classes run continuously with only 10 minutes break for each class finishes. I barely have time to eat and have a rush time to pray. Overwhelming? yes, especially when I deal with children. Whining? yes, sometimes I sigh deeply and complain to my colleagues.
Besides working with various students, I also work with some native teachers, the ones who speak English since they were born, the ones who fluently communicate with the language, the ones who do not get along with me (and other local teachers) well. Maybe, the one I keep in touch quite well is my boss, an American one. The one that always makes me nervous when the observation comes. He watches me in the class, give me feedback afterwards. When it is good, I am happy. When it is bad, I am doomed.
There is a gap between the natives and the local teachers. At least, it may be what I feel. Every time I come to the office and see my native friends, I just smile and say “hi” instead of saying “Hi, how are you today?” “How was your night?”. I know their tradition to have always greeted their friends every time they meet, but as an Indonesian, I feel it too chit-chatty. And that has happened for almost six months now.
There is also a gap between the natives and local teachers in terms of salary. Natives are paid doubled, maybe tripled than the locals. I know that they deserve it since they are teaching their mother language overseas and since they have to come up with the other expenses of how to live abroad.
Speaking of tradition, the locals do not get along with them because we have different tradition. Let’s say, the natives love to hang out in a bar or to have a barbecue and drink. While locals, who are mostly a muslim, do not drink. So, we never hang out then.
Another gap at the office is like the language barrier. Locals tend to use Indonesian when they speak to each others, so the natives may not understand it. Natives, on the other hand, speak English to each others while locals still can eavesdrop sometimes. But we don’t care what they are talking about. At the office, I can sense it that we just work, earn money, and do not meddle of anyone else’s businesses.
Frankly, sometimes I feel bored of what I am doing. I know teaching is my passion, but I was questioning myself “How long will I have been doing this?”.
If working is merely to earn money and spend it without gaining anything from it, I think I am too tired to do it.
Working life for me now is like waking up in the morning, laying on my bed thinking that I have to teach mischievous kids and being crazy about it, going to the office with (sometimes) in a frowning face, making lesson plans, teaching (not-so) wholeheartedly, turning on the computer, staring at it, standing, sitting up, walking around, shouting, (fake) smiling, going home late, and staggering to my bed, sleeping.
I guess it is too boring to do it, but everyone needs money, don’t they? At least, for what I am doing, the money can pay my monthly expenses, even though, it only comes when the payday is coming. After that, I am broke.
*(cheers) to the jobs that pay the bills.*