Sunday, September 16, 2007

Teacher Mike

My friend, Carrie, has a good post about some recent drama that took place at our school. Check out her view on the topic here: My Several Worlds.

Mike came to work at the school about 6 months ago. He seemed like a nice enough guy. My desk was on one side of Mike and Carrie's was on the other. I would like to add a few thoughts onto Carrie's analysis.

Initially, the only reservation I had was his age, he is in his mid-forties. This really isn't a big deal to me because I too am quite a bit older than the typical teacher here. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and hoped for the best.

Shortly after he began teaching, some alarming signs began to materialize. I am in my late 30's but continue to have the energy of a twenty-something and an ability to relate to the students, Mike lacked both of these traits. He just seemed a bit slow-on-the-draw and that is not an option when teaching kids. He wasn't able to let loose and be silly.

Confidence and flexibility are the keys to success in the classroom. I knew after a week or so that Mike didn't possess either of these characteristics. He was just too rigid. It was like watching Al Gore in the Presidential debates...a wee bit painful.

Also, he didn't take kindly to other teachers/administrators critiquing his performance. This is a BIG problem because oversight is paramount in the schools here. I was taken aback by this when I first started teaching here but soon began to appreciate it. It has helped me to iron out a lot of the kinks in my approach. My impression was that Mike took offense to someone telling him a better way to teach a lesson. He didn't get that it was constructive criticism that will enable him to succeed down the road.

Sadly, Mike's issues weren't confined to the classroom.

On more than one occasion, he exhibited some unsettling paranoid delusions. He was convinced that the other teachers were stealing his books when he wasn't at his desk. I told him several times that the books don't belong to him, they are the school's, and are used by all. Regardless, he rambled on about thievery. At one point, he lost his passport. He proceeded to tell me about the giant criminal network throughout Taiwan centered on stealing passports. For two days he grumbled about being victimized and no one is safe here. I calmly told him that he needs to turn his apartment upside-down before alerting the authorities. He came to work the next day and thanked me for the tip. I experienced many of the same paranoid tendencies when dealing with my grandmother. It can be exhausting.

There were quite a few other concerns with Mike's performance. I think it's safe to say that Mike needed to move on.

When I transferred to another branch of the school a few months back, I knew that it was just a matter of time before all of the above would come to a head. After a heated exchange this past week, Mike quit. I think he may have been a half-step ahead of management regarding the end of his service. Again, check out Carrie's site for the gory details regarding his last days at the school.

I am pleased that this mess appears to have ended. I don't have any ill-will towards Mike. I hope he gets some help in dealing with his anger/paranoia.


stevo said...

Teachers over 40 are usually the most difficult. That's not to say that some are excellent. Many men over 40 are a powder-keg of problems, being an expat only makes it worse.

SJL said...

I wonder what this Mike dude is doing in Taiwan? What makes him think that he can make it better else where if he wasn't doing it at where ever he from?