Friday, April 15, 2011

great expectations

I had come to YB expecting to teach only SAT Verbal. Instead, I find myself teaching mostly grade schoolers, and when I have the chance to teach high schoolers, I'm often asked to help in areas I never signed up to teach: history, advanced math, chemistry, physics, biology, etc. In most cases, I have to beg off the assignment and shunt the kids to different teachers, as I did yesterday.

Perhaps I should have read the fine print more closely before signing up. I often feel I'm doing the kids a disservice whenever I'm asked to teach outside my narrow range of competence. It occurs to be that this is becoming an adapt or die type of situation: I'm either going to have to put myself through the entire high school curriculum again in order to help these kids, or I'm going to have to rethink my immediate future.

About the only time I feel useful is when teaching ESL to my lone grad student. He and I get along famously. While I get along with most of the high schoolers and grade schoolers, I've already met three or four bad eggs, and they tend to ruin my day. In almost every case, it's because they're lazy and spoiled. YB discourages parent/teacher conferences, which is too bad, because I think the spoiled kids would straighten up quickly were I to sit in a room with my boss, the parents, and the student-- everyone communicating everything at the same time, instead of A talking only to B, B talking only to C, and C talking only to A.

Part of me sympathizes with the kids, though. So many of them are already doing well in school, but because their parents demand academic perfection (which is one of the most inaccurate indicators of later success in life), they have to come to YB for extra study. Some students are at the center for four hours, even if they have only two hours of class.

I had certain expectations coming into YB. The parents of these kids have certain expectations of their children, and of the center's ability to churn out Ivy League enrollees. Even after a month here, I still feel woefully behind the curve, and way in over my head.


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