Sketchnast! My Mean Boss Just Made Me Learn a Chinese Language And I Didn’t Want To
After 13 years as a bilingual teacher at the middle school in my hometown, Elizabeth, the underperforming district has promised me an opportunity to work in its affluent, high-performing high school. The interview process was smooth and the excellent evaluator and Principal made sure I felt welcomed. I had my family, friends and my young daughter come to the interview, and I was afraid to mess up a great opportunity.
I am not (currently) proficient in Sketchnoting, but did incredibly well on my written essay and interviewed well with my students, who were eager to learn. I was also told that I was proficient at Sketchnoting, as well. That’s a big deal, because at my previous school, we had no formal training in the unique language. Our students are citizens of a country where approximately 10 percent of them speak language other than English, and most of them live in poor neighborhoods. They are learning English as a second language and, despite the low socio-economic context in which many of them reside, most of our students are doing pretty well. They were very nice, and the students I work with were extremely respectful. The interview was also kind-hearted, as evidenced by the Principal’s thoughtful note and good wishes.
Later that week, I went to my boss’s office and handed him my computer so that she could review the application. My boss then took me to the Principal’s office to talk further. My boss told me that I had been interviewed and made to write another essay, but that this time, I needed to work harder. I said that I had been nervous about how my students would react because I didn’t know how they would react to my lack of Sketchnoting proficiency, but that I could learn how to Sketchnast. My boss reassured me that she thought I would be a great teacher and that, as a bilingual teacher, she felt that I had all the skills necessary to be successful.
My boss told me that she needed to interview me another time because she didn’t like some of the things that I said. She then asked me to use my computer and copy those notes I had given my Principal on my computer. As I typed, she asked me to translate a question about online fractions and the student test scores out of Mandarin Chinese. I cringed as I returned the typed language and translated it. It got worse when she asked me how the year had gone and asked me if I had made any mistakes, especially in math and reading. I thought to myself, “Now, do you want a writing exam or an interview?” I’m sorry, but I am just not a Sketchnast! I wanted to keep this a secret from my family so they wouldn’t be so upset that I am working in a bad school.
The following day my boss called me into her office and told me that she wanted to review my typed English translation and that I would need to “do a writing test” next week. She told me that I was “well-intentioned” but that I “didn’t show my craft.” She apologized for asking me to do this after interviewing me, but then informed me that since my English language proficiency score on my test wasn’t very high, I wouldn’t get the highest possible score. My boss then said she was allowing me to register for their foreign language study program and asked me to teach Chinese for two months. I needed to go through with the tuition. I told her that I wasn’t ready and that I wasn’t going to take the job. Later that day, she called my wife who works for the district. My wife told me that she couldn’t be mad at me, she was a phenomenal teacher and she loves her job. She assured me that I didn’t need to take the job because she and I are a “match made in heaven.”
My fear of losing my job and not being able to speak Vietnamese anymore put me off this job as well. As my employer told me, in our current environment, “Slaves are few and far between.” My fear and my non-Sketchnoting woes were forgotten when my wife told me that I didn’t really need the job. She explained that the employers I had been assigned were not what I expected, but that these employers were not at all judgmental, and that I would meet other non-Slaves like myself. We both laughed and then began to cry.
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