25 April 2009

A Rose & a new job

After being laid off and out of work for about five weeks, I secured yet another teaching job at a private institution. Before applying I had to really consider whether or not I could endure the hour and a half commute each way on public transportation. But when no other job was available at a closer location, I really had no choice.

The first few trips into San Francisco where sort of an adventure; Big City Living seemed rather exciting. I was concerned about all the noise and lights of riding underground to get there, but I soon came up with a travel plan. I travel with ear plugs, dark glasses, and ball cap, then close my eyes and get as Zen as possible. So far it has worked like a charm. I have been able to get from point A to point B with no headaches and without falling asleep past my stop. Unfortunately, my “part-time” job has turned into a full time job and with a nasty commute to boot.

It is the same old story. I am paid for teaching four hours a day; period. The 30 minutes before

class needed for photo-copying and setting up my lesson, and the 30 minutes/1 hour after needed for students, paperwork, clean up, are not on the clock. The 7 or so hours of class preparation time I did to design the course and get lessons ready were also off the clock. The extra one, two or three hours a day needed for further fine tuning to a course which I had never taught and to which there was no curriculum, were worked free of charge. What is up with this teaching crapola? Or more importantly, why am I putting up with this?

Anyone who as ever taught knows that it is a teacher thing to feel that you are never doing enough. The educational system, be it public or private makes sure you know that no matter your qualifications and/or experience, you will never be good enough and you can always “do more”. With every new job you are handed a thick packet of what is expected of you which includes proper lesson preparation, zillions of forms to fill out for each student and each class and each breath you take. It then must all be documented and filed in the proper box at the proper time on a specific day. And I do all of this. And I do it damn well. But, if I add up all the hours I work divided by the pay I receive, I am doing it all for minimum wage, with no medical insurance, no sick leave, no vacation days, and no assurance that I will have a job come next Monday.

But it is illegal to not get paid for hours worked, you say. Apparently not. According to the Labor Commissioner's office, professions like teaching are “exempt” from all the rest of the workers. I am still not clear on how this works and am trying to decipher the applicable labor code. And even if it were illegal, what can I do? Even questioning an employer about such things will guarantee a lay-off notice on Friday, telling you not to come in on Monday. And there would be no reason in the world I would bother filing a claim against a minimum wage job.

So why do all these teachers in all these private institutions put up with it? I haven’t a clue. Maybe it is because most have only their one-month teaching certificate plus a bit of experience and think it is a well paid gig. Why do I put up with it? I tell myself that I don’t really have any other options, but possibly I haven’t meditated on it long enough to come up with a viable alternative. It is all rather depressing realizing that what I do best is apparently not good enough.

But at least I have my first rose! It is ever so exciting! There are buds about to bloom on all the bushes. Going out in the garden to see how happy all the plants are is my own little daily miracle. I like feeling that I am appreciated by Mother Earth.