Multiple Choice

Received Tuesday, July 13, 2010
perspective and opinion So I´ve been teaching English this summer in Spain since June. The first family that I worked with wanted 4 days per week and had a flexible schedule. For the last 2 weeks of June they were my only job so we pretty much made plans with 24 hours notice. Since the beginning of July I have added 2 more families, one just starting this week. Here´s the dilemma...

Family 1 - originally wanted mostly afternoons with some mornings and now has changed to wanting mostly mornings. They have 2 girls who are 4 and 8. The older girl is the one I´m mainly supposed to be working with. She is extremely rude and basically uninterested in me being there. At times I´ll just play with and teach the younger girl, who is also rude, but not as bad. When I´m just with the younger girl the older cries and says that I don´t like her and only like her sister even though 90% of the time I¨m there I´m with the older girl. Not only are they the most difficult kids that I work with, but their parents also pay the least.

Family 2 - From the start said that they wanted Monday, Wednesday, and Friday´s from 11 - 12:30 which seemed like it would work fine at first because family 1 at that time wanted afternoons. They have 2 girls 5 and 7 who are very polite, well behaved, and I actually have fun with! Both of the girls have had english lessons from a young age so me coming and doing activities isn´t anything new.

Family 3 - I just started with today, they have one girl aged 8 that I teach. They want me Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 - 1. This girl already speaks english well and was a real joy to teach today. Usually after about an hour of lessons with family 2 things start to get boring and I really need to get creative, however with this girl the 2 hours flew by. When I took this job I knew that family 1 wanted mornings and I only had those tuesdays and thursdays left, but I took it anyway without even trying to change the times.

I really like the PARENTS from family 1, they´re nice, funny, and respectful. They realize their kids are pretty bad and very difficult to teach and work with me quite a bit to help settle the girls but nothing really works. Not only do they pay the least, but I really just don´t like their kids at this point. The 8 year old isn´t your run of the mill rude but she asks things like ´how much are my parents paying you to be here?´ or ´why did you say you came at 12 when you got here at 12:03?´ ... are you kidding me? I told her that it was between me and her mother and that it wasn´t her business and let me tell you she did not like me saying that. She also controls everything.. there are a lot of examples but I´m sure most people here have dealt with the controlling older sibling so you get it.

Family 1 is starting to notice that I´m not coming ANY mornings anymore and they realize I´ve added other families. I know they want to talk tomorrow about why I scheduled other people at their preferred time spot. I´m not sure what to tell them.

Should I
a) just flat out tell them that other families wanted the mornings and because of the kids behavior I gave them preference
b) Tell them that the other families ONLY could do the mornings and didn´t have flexibility or..
c) I need suggestions!!

Clearly option ´A´ is a bit rude but it might be pertinent to the future when they have another english teacher because I know that my friends who teach said that they just flat out would not work with these kids. I´m a teacher, not their nanny or even babysitter, so its not my position to correct their behavior. The parents might benefit from knowing WHY they´re being put on the back burner.. but at the same time I really like the parents and have gotten to know the whole family (ie grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins) from both sides of the family.



just saying said...

I think it would be fine to tell them that since they had originally requested afternoons, you had advertised your availability to other families as mornings, and so naturally that's what the other families were looking for.
I agree that you are there for a specific purpose- to teach them English, but at the same time, I think whenever you work with kids, there is always an element of caregiving. Correcting behavior is also a form of teaching.

Phoenix said...

OMG that little 8 year old from family 1 sounds like my niece. Annoying as shit. It's because she is really smart. Like my niece who is really smart. You can't change her she will only get worse. I say ditch family 1. You can't correct that behavior because she thinks she is superior to you. God she sounds just like my niece. I am sorry you have to be around a kid like that. I don't like my niece. I can't go around her anymore.

Village said...

I wouldn't tell the parents you dislike the behavior of the children. No good can come from that. NO parent wants to hear that.

I would simply state you have booked morning work, and are now only available in the afternoon. If they pull the you have abandoned us routine, calmly state you were under the impression afternoons were good for them, and you have kept afternoons available for them.

It's a win/win for you. If they want you in the afternoons, you are booked. If they don't want you in the afternoons, you escape the children, and get to look for new bookings, hopefully with more enjoyable children.

roseofsharon said...

i knew a guy who was charged with teaching the kids magic and it was a class where they were very intelligent and smart-a$$. When they would say something like "you're dumb how much are you being paid" he would reply - "You don't have to listen to me or do what i say cause your parents are going to pay me anyway!"

They would look at him with wide eyes because they are used to the female sweet as sugar approach which they hate and would frequently then be won over.

I teach something similar and you can get alot of mileage out of a non sequitor humor response to rudeness

ala' Mary Poppins English Accent : Ohhhhh! How do you KNOW that?

BRRRRR! (raspberry)

but - i only work with them on a one time basis so it might not work when you have to be with them every day

Nicole said...

OP here -

So I´m heading over soon and I think I´m going to tell them that the other families could ONLY do mornings and that I thought afternoons were okay for them. I probably won´t mention their daughters behavior because they know already and just don´t do anything about it.

Also Pheonix - This girl is smart which makes things harder for me because I know how easy it would be for her to learn if she put in some effort. The other problem is that she has dyslexia and because of that her parents coddle her. It doesn´t interfere with her learning a spoken language just her behavior.

Thanks for the advice everyone!

MissMannah said...

Maybe I am a little more harsh, but I think I would mention the girls' behavior. Like you said, the parents already know, but they also need to know that coddling is not going to help them succeed. I disagree with Just Saying, it is not up to you to correct the girls' behavior. It is up to the parents to teach them respect so they can then be open to learn whatever else. If these girls get dropped by enough teachers, maybe the parents will wake up and see they do have a real discipline problem on their hands. This reflects back poorly on the parents, in my opinion.