Teaching

Giant oooops. I wrote this one last week but seem to not quite yet have the hang of impressive complexities like “actually hitting post when I’m writing a thing on my ipad and did I mention I got an ipad ohmygawwwd it is so pretty. Anyway, here it is now- barely even out of date ’cause I’m still working a ton of hours at the mo.

Despite having a drafts folder the size of Scrooge McDuck’s money vault, this week (er, last week – updatedMe) is going to be pretty sparse on the blogging front. One of the things about how I pay the bills- I teach English as an additional language in a private school- is that it’s incredibly seasonal. Either there’s no work at all, or we have a shedload of groups and we’re all pulling double shifts. This week is the latter, so instead of being cosied up with my laptop, I’ll be keeping bunches of teenagers entertained and contained while convincing them that yes, I do understand how to swear in four different languages (an essential junior TEFL teacher survival skill) and occasionally even throwing an English word or two in their direction. And at the end of that, it’s time to bundle into a car with several of my stinkiest and most beloved friends to travel halfway across the country to strap on some skates and knock the shite out of each other.

I’ll never forget my first days teaching- well, the first that stuck anyhow (there was a previous attempt but that’s a story that gets told over a bottle or three of wine). I was fairly confident that I’d be able to handle things- after all, I’d been tutoring, facilitating workshops and even giving the occasional speech for years. And my first class went fine- sure, the teenagers were less inclined to talk than what I was used to, but no bother- I was well able to get the ice broken and get them participating.

And then I walked into my second class.

To describe the next two hours as the longest of my life is probably not entirely accurate, but they sure felt like they were never going to end. Cause it turns out that while you learn a lot about lesson planning and learning and communication methods when you train for this job, when it comes to wrangling rowdy teenagers the course is a little.. sparse. In two short impossibly long hours I went from going about my life carefree, to feeling a deep, gnawing sense of guilt for every time I was ever terrible to a teacher growing up.

In retrospect, the kids weren’t too bad. Throwing food at each other every time a teacher turns her back, occasionally trying to start fights with each other and talking non-stop in Italian isn’t a recipe for a peaceful time, but it isn’t either unheard of or impossible to deal with as long as you don’t, say, become visibly freaked-out and hesitant and make it pretty obvious that you have no idea what the hell to do. If a person were to do that, though.. let’s just say that anyone who’s been a teenager can relate tithe bubbling, enthusiastic joy of knowing that, for the next two hours, you can get away with anything.

Luckily for me, this first class was on a Friday. First thing Saturday morning I called up my aunt and uncle- both of whom have been doing they teaching thing as long as I’ve been alive, pretty much- and by Monday I had both a game plan and hours of practice in my new Teacher face. That Monday I faked confidence like my life depended on it (in a fairness, it basically did) and.. BOOM. No more food fights, and I think I might even have gotten a bit of English out of them.

It was a good day.

Off to work now with me! I’ll try and throw up some snippets if I’ve time, but I can guarantee nawthin’. In the meantime- any fellow teachers reading this? Got any good stories?

And also shoutout to all of my fellow people working “casual” or seasonal jobs. How do you lot deal with the lack of consistency in time, money and routines?

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4 thoughts on “Teaching

    1. 1.1

      That is so strange! On the other hand, that was one of the first posts I wrote on my new ipad, so I was still working things out. No harm done though, like 🙂

  1. 2

    The only teaching I’ve done has been one on one with adults who self-selected to be there. Not the same thing at all, and I’ll say that it was the most enjoyable job I’ve ever had.

    My most memorable teacher moment came when a maths teacher lost his shit in front of the class. It was that classic case where a student complained that the question they got wrong on the test hadn’t been covered in class. The worlds “spoon-fed” and various profanities featured prominently. Even at that young age I had an inkling of just how hard teaching us teenagers must be for an otherwise rational adult to snap so badly, and so publicly.

    Kudos to you and anyone else who can do it. The world needs you, ’cause I’d rather drive a fork into my skull with a carpet slipper than try teach a bunch of rowdy teens who are bent on misbehaving.

    1. 2.1

      Confession: half the time I teach adults, so I’m not a full-time teacher of teenagers. Which definitely helps 🙂

      I do find the teens massively fun, though. Yeah, they can wreck your head but they’re also often brilliant people too

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