Student evaluations were more than 4 weeks ago. I knew that some of the teachers had been given their evaluations, but I had not. It did concern me, but I don’t see the director, Michael, often, since he’s not in the office much. He rarely speaks to me when he is, so our verbal exchanges are typically about something that’s going wrong. So when he called me into his office yesterday, I just assumed I was in trouble for something, though I couldn’t think of anything I’d done. Michael’s face never gives anything away (I bet he’s a good poker player) but his body language didn’t look positive.
Honestly, I thought I might be fired. I mentally prepared myself for the worst and began creating a Plan B.
Instead, he gave me the student evaluations, though at first I didn’t understand what he was handing me. There was no heading, the type was small, the room dark and the format unfamiliar. I couldn’t read or comprehend the information. It was clear that he thought I would immediately grasp the document’s contents, so he was incredulous when I explained that I didn’t know what it was, nor had I seen something like this before. This did not help the mood.
He reluctantly interpreted the report for me. The evaluations were some of the highest anyone could expect to get. In fact, he said it was one of the best evaluations he’d ever seen. He even said that when he saw scores this high it made him proud (notice he didn’t say he was proud of me). The comments section was positively glowing: “Best teacher ever” and “She is a patient and kind teacher” and “Best class I’ve ever taken.” The most heartening comments came from my beginner class. I’d taken over a Level 1 class, but reluctantly. I had been so worried that I was doing a poor job for them since I speak so little Spanish.
I know I should be happy, and I am, but it took a while before I could enjoy the good news. The meeting was so uncomfortable! Of course, it’s difficult to take praise from someone (seriously it shouldn’t be, but it is), but it feels particularly uncomfortable to get it from someone you rarely hear pleasant comments from. Also, my mind was still prepared to be fired and I couldn’t just drop that feelings. When you are expecting something bad, hearing good things just feels like a setup. While Michael’s mouth was saying very positive things about me and my teaching, he didn’t smile. He’s just not a “smiley” guy. And his body language still appeared negative, to me. Basically, it felt surreal. I only realized the meeting had been a positive one AFTER it was over.
I also found that I’m being moved to the El Centro branch. It’s a mixed bag. On the one hand, there are many positive things: I can walk to work in about 10 minutes without using a bus. I have four classes, back to back, so there’s no sitting around waiting and no split shift. All my classes are in the evening and located in the downtown area where there are lots of cafes and restaurants. On the other hand, however, I’m almost completely isolated. I’m the only teacher and Veronica, the lone receptionist, speaks zero English. Michael told me that my lowest class would be a level 3 (out of 24 levels) but it turns out that I start the shift with a level 1 class. I’m not convinced that I’m a good teacher for beginners, but my Spanish has improved, so it’s a better situation than when I did it before. Based on the past, this probably means that I will have this same schedule next session. Michael seems to change up teachers every other session. If so, that will take me up to the Christmas break.