The company that I worked for in the UAE was comedy of errors. Don’t get me wrong. I loved my experience and I loved my students. In fact, I accepted overloaded timetables in order to spend more time with my students. This, I did not mind.
However, the leadership (or lack thereof) at the school kept teachers uninformed until the last possible minute. Just the fact that our school that went through 5 vice principals in 7 months was a sign that we had to be prepared with any Change that was made on the spur of the moment.
For example, one day at 2:57 while wrapping up class that ended at 3:00, my vice principal came into the room and announced, “Mr. David has said that classes are now going until 3:30.”
Mr. David was our principal. I said, “OK. When does that start?”
He looked at me like I was a moron and replied, “Right now.”
Then I looked at him like he was a moron and overdramatically looked at my watch (it was now 2:58) and asked, “Like today? Today. Right now? They are in here until 3:30.”
“Yes.” He turned and walked out. Apparently, he had other teachers to tell before they dismissed their classes.
Mutiny broke out, “Teacher, what is this?” “I’m not staying.” “Mr. David can’t say 3:30.” “We are done at 3:00.” “What’s this 3:30?”
I addressed my angry students, “Oh, you think I’m happy about this? Sit down.” I had no idea what to do with these 29 angry teenage boys. My lesson plan was done for the day, I had brought no other books (we didn’t have our own classes), and the boys were having nothing to do with it. I quickly separated them into 2 groups and had a spelling competition, but I had no idea what it was I was supposed to do with them these extra 30 minutes; we got that directive two weeks later.
The thing that amazed me most: Not one parent called to the school to complain about this; it’s definitely not the US.
At times, it seemed our principal was proud of the fact that he was so disorganized and created chaos by his never-ending changes; meeting changes, assembly changes, work hour changes. His apparent pride became clear when he sent an email on our seventh day of classes with the subject line: Timetable Version 24! J. Yes, we had 24 changes in 7 days of classes and yes, he had a smiley face after announcing that fact.
It was most certainly a lesson in adaptability! And many rides home from work left me singing: Cha-cha-cha changes
Where’s your shame
You’ve left us up to our necks in it
That principal experienced his own change; he was fired.