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Don’t Give a Damn about my Reputation

November 6, 2010

I was at school until after 6pm again, just pulling another 12-hour day, when I get  phone call from a number I don’t recognize.  It’s a parent of a first grader, but not from our school, definitely not from my class.  She says several times the name of the person that gave me her number, and until now I can’t say I know who it is.  She says she’d like me to tutor her 6 year-old son who’s currently attending an Arabic/English bilingual school….because she heard I was a very good teacher.  She sounded very upset when I initially told her I couldn’t do it with my current schedule: tutoring Sun. and Wed.; Enviromental Fun Club on Mon.; staff meetings on Tues.; shisha thurs.  I’m booked.  Khalas!  Maybe it was weariness at the end of the day, but she eventually negotiated her way into convincing me to come to their home every Saturday to tutor for one-hour and a half.

Just a little bit about tutoring.  Many teachers I know do it (including me…I tutor another young girl every Sunday and Wednesday).  Yes, we’re teachers and we love to teach, but when it comes to tutoring it’s almost always about the cash money!  15KD/hour for elementary students; 20KD/hour for middle school and high school.  That’s at least an hour, people!  With regular expenses, teachers that tutor often don’t even have to touch their pay check.  You tutor 3 hours a week?  That’s over 150 USD!  Anyway, you get the idea.

So, I get off the phone with her and try to think, Who gave her my number? Then I felt flattered to even have been recommended from one parent to another.  Then I came this concept of reputation, and the way it (whether positive or negative) can spread like grains of sand in an up draft.  It’s a two-way street…simply enough, it can work for you or against you. Some background: Our school seems to be one of the few schools that actually allows our parents to have a say into which teacher/classroom their child goes into for the upcoming school year.  They call our principal, put in a request for a specific teacher, many of them getting their wish.  If it’s after the first day of school and they have any kind of reason to move their child from one class to another, they have a good chance of having it done for them.  I know, it’s happened to three kids in my class.  Two got switched out of my class on parent requests, and one got transferred into my class because of a parent request.  And what does this come down to?  I guess only the parents know for sure.  But my guess would be word-of-mouth info…one parent tells another that this teacher does this, and this teacher doesn’t do that, etc…all of a sudden you have a teaching reputation.

Unless I’ve spoken with them about it, the parents of the children that were switched in and out of my class have a limited understanding about my teaching skills, my personality, my traits and attributes as a teacher.  I’d surmise they talk with other parents, other parents that know me better.  By no means am I blaming them for this, or scrutnizing them for it…they can do whatever they want.  I want that to be clear, really.  I am not criticizing them for anything.  (This blog is just an exercise in discussion and analyzation…not one of scrutinization)  I know parents just want the best for their child.

As with many teachers, I’m sure…this whole idea of a teaching reputation works both ways.  One might say, why would they take her out of my class?  Her parents have never even met me.  But the other hand, this other parent that requested me as a tutor obviously received a good word about me.  Either good or bad, how can one really be more credible?  Still, I’ll happily take a positive one…especially if it earns me $50/hour. :)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 7, 2010 10:22 pm

    RJ,

    I just started reading your blogs. You are really doing a good job and I am really proud of you. I was a teacher and many times, it’s the self-satisfaction at the end of the day that keep you going. You feel good when you know you are making a difference in a child’s life. Keep up the good work and take care of yourself whereever you are.

    Love,
    Auntie Baby

    Auntie Baby

  2. November 8, 2010 6:19 pm

    Thanks, Auntie Baby. That means a lot! :)
    -R.J.

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