Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Boss from Hell

My wife never ceases to amaze me. After trying the seminary scene here in Israel, Rena decided that she had had enough:

  • Enough of trying to entertain rather than teach
  • Enough of running from school to school, trying to find hours
  • Enough of not knowing whether you'd have a job the next year, depending on whether the school had a good year recruiting or a not-so-good year

So she decided to retrain as an English teacher in the Israeli school system. Last year, Rena started taking classes at Achva College nearby (she'll finish hopefully this year. That's a long story too) and taught part-time at a local elementary school. She also subbed, which is no picnic.
This year, she found a full-time job teaching at a high school in Gadera to mainly disadvantaged children from the city. They're not your typical, privileged American Day School students: many divorces, single parent homes, victims of abuse - they're the Israel that you normally don't see on the tours.
It's been a difficult transition, not the least of which is getting used to the job. The problem isn't really the teaching; that she'll figure out over time. She's a great teacher, if I do say so myself (and I do). The problem is her Boss.
Who. Is. Incompetent. Truly.
Where do we begin? Let's start at the beginning:

  1. Rena didn't get a schedule until the week before school started, which means that she couldn't prepare any classes until that time, as she didn’t know what classes she'd be teaching.
  2. By the first day of school, they had not yet ordered books. That continued for at least a week until Rena finally went herself (remember, she's never taught in Israel before) and forced the secretary to order the books. They have yet to arrive. Oh, yes, her Boss suggested that until they come, she should purchase her own books herself (which is incorrect. The publishers supply them for the teachers. It's the least they can do.)
  3. At least one of her classes wasn't really divided properly by level. So she was supposed to teach a group of high-school kids, without books, who weren't even on the same level. They finally divided them last week. Rena got 28 students, and the other classes were 11, 11 and 14. Ummm….something's wrong here.
  4. One of her classes takes place in the computer room, as there's no other available room. But the computer room is locked, and they haven't given Rena the key. Instead, she's supposed to find the principal to open the room. Today, Rena went to the office to find her Boss (instead of eating lunch), and she wasn't there. So, when the time for class came and Rena wasn't in the room, her Boss yelled at her for not being in class on time. (Did I mention that she's a yeller? No? Apparently she is.) When Rena pointed out that she skipped lunch to find her and she wasn't in the office, her Boss said, "I was here!" Sorry, yelled. She's something of a yeller. But I mentioned that already.
  5. Rena went over her test schedule, which is divided up at the beginning of the year. Many of her classes are fine. One of them has a test tomorrow (yes, the third week of school. And they didn't have books. But so what?) Their next scheduled exam? January.
  6. Remember what I told you about the books not arriving on time. I neglected to mention that her Boss also carefully monitors and limits the amount of copies that teachers are allowed to make. (After all, why make copies, which are expensive, when you have books. Makes sense, unless you don't have books because no one ordered them because the classes weren't divided because no one's in charge…but I digress.) Anyway, when the books failed to come, she told her Boss that she'd have to photocopy pages until they did. "No problem. You can copy as many as you need." Sure thing. Tomorrow, Rena's supposed to give a test, but when she went to make copies of the tests she's supposed to give, she learned that the machine locked her out. She was out of copies. Something about making too many.
  7. Today takes the cake. Rena's in her classroom teaching and in walks her Boss along with another teacher and that teacher's class in tow. She tells Rena, "You'll sit on one side, and she'll sit on the other, and you'll teach alongside each-other." What? Really? Rena says to her boss, "Can I speak to you outside for a moment?" Her Boss, outside, tells her why she's combining the classes, and that there's no other option. "This is common practice. Call the regional supervisor and ask her." To which my wife replied, "I will." And she did. And it turns out not to be so common after all. Shocking.

If you're a teacher, ask yourself: as bad as your Boss is – and there are better principals and worse – you may have dealt with one of these problems, or two. But all of them, at the same time? At let's not forget: Rena made it clear that this would be her first year teaching full-time, and that she'd need some help getting settled.
"Sure," her Boss told her. "No problem."
I could only my wife one suggested consolation. This must be a kaparah for something. Whatever she's done wrong this year, the suffering she's undergoing trying to be a capable teacher for her students – and that's really what motivates her – must be atoning for a great many sins.
My wife is a tzadeiket. Of that I am sure.


  1. Sorry to hear about her woes, but that sounds pretty typical for English in Israeli schools. Although it's required by Misrad Hachinuch, it's pretty much an afterthought that no one cares about or really knows how to deal with. If I were your wife, I'd forget about teaching in schools and focus on private lessons and chugim. She will make much more money and not have to deal with incompetent fools. I know that's not very idealistic and her kids will suffer, but she really does need to think of herself and her sanity first. (speaking from first hand experience).

    I don't know where you guys live, but she can do chugim for anglos and Israelis. A good private English teacher is highly valued- one on one tutoring starts at NIS 120 shekel an hour and goes up from there. Teaching for bagruyot is probably even more.

  2. (sorry, when I said "her kids", I meant her students, not your kids. Your own kids will probably be much better for leaving this insane job!)

  3. Hope her horrible boss doesn't do a Google search and find this and make her life even more miserable...


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