Arthur and Kevin's Nellorat (nellorat ) wrote,

The Only Thing I Realy Dislike about My Job

So now it's noon, and I still don't know whether I have to be at the academy at 4:00 p.m. or will Skype from home!

The academy has always been run in a way I like to call "flexible," with schedule changes at the last moment. The parents/students are seen as customers, and although I get the verbal equivalent of a silent stink-eye for canceling the same day even if I'm sick, they cancel at the last minute with impunity. OK, I can live with that. And some of the changes in schedule are for the teachers' benefit, swapping around students so that gaps created by cancellations can be filled.

I've often said that such instant switches would have driven me nuts when I first started tutoring, but by now I am so familiar with materials and strategies in so many areas that getting a literature student instead of SAT or whatever doesn't bother me much. I stand by my need to have at least 36 hours notice before teaching a group class; this huge demand seems mainly to have resulted in my having all individual students, which I'm mostly fine with.

Over the past several months, however, this problem has increased an order of magnitude. I can't remember the last Saturday or Sunday that actually followed the schedule I was given just at end of day the night before. This may be more or fewer hours, or may be the same number of hours but the exact students/subjects changed.

I think the problem is twofold. One is that the one person doing all the scheduling and phoning is probably vastly overworked. I've suggested that maybe the academy needs to hire someone to help her, but she never says anything in response. Also, this year it seems that less of my work is regular meetings for test prep and more is sporadic sessions as needed to help with homework. I often like helping with homework, especially when the student is fully capable of doing it but just doesn't fully realize what is expected/desired; and I'm getting better at not letting even the most passive-controlling student get me to do the work for hir. But these last-minute sessions exacerbate the gap between the work & one person's ability to do it.

I think another big issue is that when the academy went for boarding-school students--in many ways a wise response to the economic downturn--that choice had effects, perhaps unanticipated, that make the scheduling worse. Of course it's more usual for an equivalent school or agency in America to have some kind of penalty for a student/parent missing or changing an appointment too close to when it happens; I'm pretty sure this approach is the common one in Korea, and I'm pretty sure its success relies on cultural differences. The boarding-school students more often make appointments themselves, and they're more assimilated, usually less responsible (i.e., teenagers), and sometimes have an annoying sense of privilege that seems to come from knowing you're part of an elite boarding school.  Someone who knows a paper is due Wednesday might be thoughtful and make an appointment for the Tuesday night as soon as s/he gets the assignment; my impression is that used to happen more, but almost never now.

Certainly, when I put my foot down my decision is respected, and I've been doing that more and more. It's hard for me to do so, though, in a way that doesn't sound snappish to the woman who does the scheduling. OTOH, that's based in a feeling that she could & should try more to push the student into better time-management habits. Last week, I twice said "if it's not in by this time I won't work on it"; the first time we argued a bit and the second time she sighed heavily, but each time the student did ultimately meet my deadline. I feel justified not only by my responsibility to stand up for myself, but also by my role as teacher, which I feel includes not enabling bad time management. And I do knowingly say this as someone who got away with bad time management much longer than I should have, and was finally glad to have a mentor who lovingly but firmly helped me improve.

But it's hard to balance off the needs of the students and my own desire for work & money against my annoyance of all this absolutely last-minute stuff. How much can & should I just adapt? I have started asking to be paid for time I spend waiting for an appointment when I don't know the student canceled (either s/he didn't tell the scheduling person or the scheduling person didn't tell me), and so far no one has even hesitated to say OK. But I still feel like I end up wasting a lot of time, and whether I should or not, I do find it annoying, even when I get paid (although less so). I am worried about making too much trouble, although realistically I'm a valuable enough employee that they'd probably speak with me about it rather than firing me.

I still haven't gotten e-mail about today. I guess I'll phone.

ETA: I called & the possible second student still hadn't called back, so I said "Let's just go with the Skype then"; the person who does the scheduling said OK and sighed deeply. I'm questioning my decision, but not so much, especially because today is a hectic day at home, probably getting a new furnace. If the furnace guy comes as he said he would!

Mood: irritated, frustrated, but apparently chatty

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