Manifestum of an unemployed teacher

Today, one more time, I started looking for a job.Once again; how many times did I do it in the last two years?

It’s not because my Book Tour started today; it has no particular reason related to the job I do nowadays – it’s because my bank account fell disastrously to zero, it’s because I owe already more than I earn in one month. And I already reduced my expenses to the absolutely indispensable.

My mom told me yesterday, when I was talking with her in the phone, as I do every weekend: “Oh, Silvia, if it was to get in the situation you are now, you should have staid in Portugal!” Dear mom! One one hand, she has a point – in Portugal, I had a free house (my father’s house) and a permanent well-paid job as a teacher. “But, mom! If I had staid in Portugal, I would never have published a book as I did here! My husband would never be able to get a job (he was considered too old to work, at 38) and would never have been allowed to be studying again! I wouldn’t be studying too and, worst of all, the children wouldn’t have a future!” Tough choice, isn’t it?!

“But, Silvia! For example, this week Miguel Sousa Tavares published a book!”

“Dear mom, give it a thought! Who is Miguel Sousa Tavares?” I know, he is an excellent writer – no-one ever puts that in question – but would he ever publish a book in Portugal if he wasn’t already famous?…

I love to teach

I love to teach

I know! How hard is it to understand and sometimes it is even painful to think about it. I’m a teacher. In the UK, the Teacher is the “Most wanted profession”. There is such a lack of teachers that they are producing “fast-track” ones to fill the vacancies, with six months to one year of training. I have a five years Degree, with specialization in Education, and I just can’t find a job as a teacher! I’m qualified in Modern Languages and Literature, fluent in English, French, Portuguese and Latin, sixteen years of experience, approved by the NARIC and fully registered in the GTCE and no-one gives me a chance.

What?… Am I ugly? I’m asking this because there were schools that asked for a photograph with the application form… I didn’t know that one needs to be a top-model in order to teach Latin!

Am I a criminal, someone who can’t approach children or vulnerable adults? No! I have clean police checks from the UK, including Scotland, and from Portugal. I never in my life did any wrong to anyone and I even have participation in several charity and cooperation activities.

No. I’m not selling my position. Sometimes I have doubts about my willing to go on being a teacher in those “terms and conditions”. I’m just letting the injustice and the grief out of my heart.

Someone recently asked me why I published my book. Why here?… Why now?…I didn’t come to England with the slightest intention  of publishing a book – it’s the absolute truth – but when I was looking for a job (this time as a teaching assistant!) I was told (how many times?): “We can’t give you this job, because, you understand, we can’t be sure that you know enough English to teach!” When I tried to do a training course, in an University, I was told: “As a foreigner, you couldn’t write an whole essay in English!”

OK! Discriminative reasons, but still I can understand the feelings behind them.

But now, what is happening? “Turn your talents into teaching” advertising is passing on TV on and on. I applied.  “No, you can’t do it! You are already qualified to teach any subject at any level.” This was the answer of the TDA. A dead end.

I was then asked for letters, written and stamped by the Boarding Directions of every school where I worked. I contacted the schools. The answer from the British schools where I worked was (quite reasonable indeed) “We can’t write references for someone who worked here just one day or two days!” In Portugal, it isn’t done because a teacher  isn’t an employee of a school. The employer there is the Ministry of Education, not the schools. And the Ministry kindly provided all the documents it could.

So, am I being penalized for being a foreigner or not?!

To be a teacher in the UK, I would need experience in the UK. “Thirty days at least”, they say. I can’t have experience, if no-one gives me the chance to work.

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2 Responses to “Manifestum of an unemployed teacher”

  1. Uncle Tree Says:

    Hello, Silvia!

    First of all I must say, you are a very attractive woman!
    Your husband should be proud. That simply cannot
    be the reason that keeps someone from hiring you.

    Secondly, I didn’t know you were residing somewhere in the UK.
    Why I assumed you were in the U.S., I don’t know. Pardon me.

    Your credentials are certainly worthy of merit, and your English,
    from what I have seen and read, is definitely up to par. You have
    experience and your record is spotless. I’d hire you in a minute.

    It looks to me like you are being penalized for your place of origin.
    Do you need to become a citizen first? Is that possible? I don’t know
    what that would entail except for passing some kind of test based
    on the knowledge of their laws and customs.

    Should you have stayed in Portugal? That’s not a fair question.
    Should you go back? From the reasons you gave for moving, I’d say no.

    That they desperately need teachers, but still won’t hire someone
    as qualified as yourself speaks magnitudes. How unreasonable!

    I wish I could give you some advice, but I cannot. I can only wish
    you luck from my vantage point, for I deem you worthy of an exception,
    for indeed, one needs to be made in your case.

    Good luck with your book tour. If I wasn’t strapped for cash myself,
    I’d order one from you today. It’s been a terrible year for me, too.

    I wish you the best! You are deserving of better treatment.
    Hang in there for now. I’m sure you’re doing the best you can. Bye now!

  2. Thank you so much, Uncle Tree. First of all, it’s very good to see you back. Secondly, your “no advice” is already a good advice. We are analysing already the “next step”, which is “get out of here” 🙂 We are drinking the poison from everywhere now (the increase of nationalisms). We came here to live and thought of applying for Nationality, but not any more. This dream is over, it was a “cat for hare” (when they used to sell hares in the supermarkets and people found out that they were cats instead). Go back to Portugal is out of the question. The world is wide and I’m sure it isn’t like this everywhere. I loved your comment and it’s so good to know that not everybody thinks the same way.

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