So I’ve always thought I was sufficiently assertive. In a non-confrontational way.
I’ve been firm about only helping out in English classes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
I told them point blank that I do not want to take their lessons for them, because I am there to help.
I was warned by the other missionaries about teachers walking out on classes and leaving me to teach. If a teacher has to be absent, it is their responsibility to find a replacement. If it’s a justified reason (medical, family emergency etc), it’s the Colegio’s responsibility to find a replacement. Often, class will just be cancelled.
In my first week, one of the English teachers, S, asked me to take his classes on Friday morning because he had to attend his aunt’s funeral. I said sorry, no. His classes were cancelled.
But then the next week, R rang me on Friday morning, saying he couldn’t take his afternoon class for final year students, because he had to be at another institution. Put on the spot, I couldn’t really say no, and I understand English is really important for school leavers, because they need to have a certain level of English to get into university. I took his Year 9 class (which he hadn’t asked me to do), because the students asked me to. To R’s credit, his previous appointment finished early and he came back for the final year class.
On Tuesday, I went with R as usual to one of his classes, but as soon as we entered the room, he turned around and asked me if it would be okay for me to go to S’s class and take the lesson, because S had a meeting with the vice principal. Um, what could I say? “Thanks for the notice – you couldn’t have asked me 5 minutes ago at the very least, in the staffroom”?
And today, R rang me again, asking me to do all his Friday classes because he will be out of town because of a family emergency. Again, pretty hard to say no. Though maybe I should’ve stuck to my timetable and declined to do the morning class (7.30-8.50am, I’d told the teachers that I will only do from 8.50am onwards on Tuesdays and Fridays because of the club de desayuno).
So yes. The upshot is that the students in tomorrow’s classes are the older ones – to date, I’ve had less contact with them, and they have not been nearly as keen to get to know me as the younger ones. For the November youth camp, we are targeting those who are 15+, and in the lead up, we are going to hold a dinner next Saturday. Perhaps this will be a good opportunity for them to get to know me a little better, and to invite them to the dinner?
Still, I need to make sure the paid teachers don’t take advantage of my voluntary help. I want to help, and I am there to help – so it makes sense for me to take the lesson when the teachers can’t be there, it’s the students who lose out if I refuse on principle. At the same time, I am wary that there is something not really fair about all this!
Please pray for wisdom/discernment/good judgment, and gentleness, in dealing with these situations as they arise.