My apologies for the lengthy absence. It wasn't something I anticipated.
Things here in the Kingdom have been exceptionally extra-ordinary these past few weeks. This school year so far has been, without a doubt, one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had, and things have only gotten more ridiculous as time has gone on. It’s been an incredibly trying time, both personally and professionally, and as things stand currently, it will continue to be this way for the foreseeable future.
As I have mentioned before, most if not all of the major issues I deal with on a day to day basis stem from the ineptitude of our Dear Leader and his complete lack of ability to do even the most mundane tasks. Aside from blatantly lying about his experience as a school administrator and continually treating every member of our staff like illiterate buffoons, his lack of social skills and inability to accept failure have made each and every school day worse than the day before. I was fed up with everything before our Eid holiday in mid-October, but had accepted that things might change eventually. This misguided hope was quickly squashed upon my return.
It started with an email two days before classes resumed in which our Dear Leader notified our entire staff that he would be extending his holiday by several days and was leaving me as acting principal. The message described at length how he wanted small bits and pieces of our school day to function, such as how students should line up their bags during their lunch break, but failed to address major issues that have continued to plague our school such as teachers not showing up for their assigned classes, students not having finalized schedules, and an almost complete lack of direction and coordination with our partners in the Girls’ Section. I was able to put in place a sort of crisis management plan and school went well until his return, but upon his arrival things descended into the usual chaos.
The day of his arrival he held a staff meeting. After the usual unnecessary pleasantries and ridiculous waste of time talking about holiday travels, I interrupted his announcements and stated at length a number of different points. In a calm, collected voice I described my frustration with our situation, my feelings of disrespect as a professional educator, and my complete lack of confidence in him as our Principal. The other staff members sat with lowered heads and avoided eye contact for the remainder of the meeting, but it brought to light just how ridiculous things had become. It allowed everyone to start airing their frustrations, but at the end of the meeting our Dear Leader avoided all contact with me, and for the remainder of the week went out of his way to limit any and all contact.
Things continued to spiral out of control in the following days, and it wasn't until a full week later that I was asked to come talk over the royal asschewing I had given my boss. Not knowing that I have a good friendship with the Brit and the Principal of the Girls’ Section, our Dear Leader invited them to sit in on the meeting, and they gave me a heads up about what was to happen. Our Dear Leader thought my frustrations had arisen because I was being ‘left out of decision making’ and the things I had implemented during his absence weren't going to be ‘used for the long term.’ Knowing how unprepared he would be, I drafted a three and half page statement outlining everything that I found to be unprofessional and inadequate about him as a Principal. I read this statement to him, we talked about less than a quarter of it, and the meeting was over without even formally addressing the fact that I had called into question his ability to function as a normal person (let alone how I described at length his ability to work professionally with other adults). At one point while discussing how rude and spastic he can be when dealing with volatile situations I told him bluntly that if he were to ever raise his voice and blatantly yell at me about my personal character I would either punch him in the face or quit on the spot. He merely looked at me with confusion and then quickly changed the subject. It’s been more than a week since then and I have yet to receive any further response. Most days he actively avoids me, and if I do attempt to speak with him he tries his best to leave the conversation as soon as possible.
Luckily, I’ve been able to meet with our Vice President and personally describe how inept my Principal is, and for the most part things have been looking up. The amount of documentation I’ve created in an attempt to describe this particular terrible example of an administrator is immense. But in the last few days things have started to look like a change might actually happen because it’s becoming increasingly obvious how dire our situation has become.
We held parent teacher conferences last Tuesday and Wednesday, and aside from a number of problems created singlehandedly by our Dear Leader, they went fairly well. I managed to meet with all but one set of parents, and I received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback regarding my teaching. It was incredibly validating, and considering how depressive my situation has been for the last month, it was a welcome change.
Several nights ago I was lying awake in bed wondering why things had ended up this way. I came to realize that many things in my life are a direct result of my actions, whether or not I’m ready to accept that they are, and it was unsettling. I was originally quite proud that I had stood up to my superiors and addressed something that was making my life so unnecessarily difficult. I felt I had received such positive feedback about my actions and there have been a wealth of improvements that were directly related to my actions. But, as things progressed, it managed to snowball into something much more daunting and ridiculous than I ever could have anticipated, and I’m not entirely sure that I’m at a point where I even have the slightest idea of what I’m doing. Weeks later, I’m still dealing with this particular situation, and for the time being things look to be positive, but as with all things, it could all change in one brief moment. I try to tell myself that life has its ups and downs, but some days just seem moodier than others.
Such is life in Saudi.