The concise OED online defines ruse as "a stratagem or trick" and states that it may have origins from the Latin rursus, meaning "backwards."
Today did not go as foreseen. Ian and I did not manage to get up any earlier than usual, which was the first in many small (yet compounding) reasons we decided not to go to the gym. Ian texted Julia at 8am to ask what time our meeting would be and again at quarter to 10. Fifteen minutes later, at ten on the dot, she texted us to let us know that there would be no meeting today, but that she would was going to Haso to "have discussion" with me and "attend" some of my classes. Immediately, my panic began to rise.
We did manage to clean the apartment while we waited for her to respond this morning, so it was not a complete loss. Ian made his worksheets while I showered and then we traded. We left for work immediately after lunch (a little after 12:30). Ian's first class was at 2 and I wanted to make sure I had time to fully prep my classes before Julia arrived. She is notorious for giving instructions and setting requirements, but not leaving any time for us to carry out her tasks between her speeches. I got to work at 12:50 and got to work making lesson plans and printing worksheets and homework assignments. Ian called me to let me know that Julia was at Goam, so he would call me when she left that campus. He called back a little before 2 to tell me that she may be headed over. I was nearly finished, but I cut out my picture cards over the copy machine while it spit out worksheet after worksheet just to make sure I was completely prepped. Julia didn't arrive until my first class was half way through. But, she came in and watched anyway. Ten minutes into her observation, she got a phone call and left. She didn't make it back into that class. When it was over, she gave me a couple extremely benign pointers and told me that I was doing better than I was before. I wondered as to exactly when she was referring, since she hasn't seen any of my classes herself since December. She watched part of my second class, again leaving when she got a phone call. She was in my third class for significantly longer, but she still didn't manage to stay through the whole thing. Then she vanished. No final notes, nothing about my last two classes, she was simply gone.
I heard from Ian later (via Facebook) that Julia said I had done well today. And that Chun wha told her that I had more energy today than I usually do. Julia happened to see me talking to students outside of class today, which also seemed to go down as novel. I'm not sure why, but Julia is obsessed with the idea that I don't have energy for my classes. I believe she imagines Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. She thinks I don't have any interest in my students or my job, she always has. It probably has to do with my particular way of dealing with the sheer terror I experienced when I started working here: quiet observance.
That Chun wha would even suggest that I don't have energy or enthusiasm for my students is deeply bothersome. Anyone can see that I do in watching how my students respond to me. They expect small silly jokes, teasing and strange questions from me. I encourage them to try to explain their conversations to me, both because I'm curious about these kids and it's good for their English skills. I guess there's no way to know whether Chun wha actually said those things or it was just another episode of Julia's selective hearing. She's also told Ian that the Korean teachers complain about him, a statement that Angela and Rahee wholly refuted.
So, as of this moment, it looks like our jobs are safe. Julia speaks of the future as if we're in it, and I suppose that's as good a sign as any.
Who knows if she'll be at Sinback tomorrow, but I am already fully prepared (I've even made copies).
Ian had an excellent day, as it was virtually devoid of Julia. With no one sitting in his classes, he was free to relax and focus on actually teaching. But, during his break David's assistant wheeled in a t.v. and set up a video of one of Ian's classes from last week. David told him to watch it and then left. When it was finished, Julia came in and asked him what he thought. But other than the painful strangeness of watching yourself on tape, Ian's day passed with ease.
The relief I should feel over Julia's lack of interest in me is tempered with the head trip I experienced (note: head trip is not the phrase I'd prefer to use, but this is a family show). I mean, she threatened my job as much as Ian's a week ago. Told me I wasn't performing on the level she wanted. Gave me a copy of a letter written nearly entirely in the accusatory second person:
"You argue that you cannot know how to conduct a lesson because you have never seen an example of good lesson... You claim as if you never discussed anything with the Korean teacher. And if you didn't know, you should have asked. You should have been worried about your own lessons from the view of students and parents. You always make excuses... We do think we've shown kindness to your [sic] for the past 8 months. You should admit that, too."
Then the second, more formal letter, which began thus:
"I am writing to warn you of our intention to terminate your employment."
That was one week ago, halfway through the probational period laid down by the written warning. Today, Julia told me I had improved after watching classes that have been running the exact same way for months. I'm at a loss as to how to feel. Was my performance ever actually in question? Or did Julia think it was necessary to chastise both Ian and I equally for his confrontation? Or is Julia truly so disconnected from my classes that she had no idea what was happening in them? Oh my. Oh my, indeed.