First Day of School as a Language Teacher

Yesterday was my first day as an assistant teacher. I will say that I was excited to start working after a month hiatus from that status. Nothing like staying up late and sleeping in till ten with very little to accomplish in the day except running to the bank. That thought was quickly followed upon my return home with, “Well that was fun for a minute.”

Like all new things (and I’ve had my fair share this last month) it’s almost always hard at first. Sometimes for many times after. But always the first. I think at the same time, I wasn’t fully anticipating being allowed to run loose on my own once my first lesson had been explained. But cut loose I was. Let the crazy American run wild. Between getting lost, turned around, confused, and teaching the same lesson to eight different groups of students in four hours, well, let’s just say I was wiped.

So like all good folk do after handling a hard first day and a lasting moment of vast uncertainty, I went and had a drink at the nearest bar.

I think it’s safe to say that even though almost a month has passed (what!?), there are still hard days. I wish I could say that there weren’t. That every day was a new thing learned and that my curiosity for the culture never faltered. That I never had a day of walking the streets and getting frustrated trying to find this shop for that and that shop for this. There are days I crave America. The simple art of attending a movie or jumping in a car to get from point A to point B. I don’t think it matters how long you are in a place, foreignness can still cripple you, despite feeling you knew it all the day before.

The marathon of teaching.

In my mind, I would be in the class of English with a teacher, and I would be helping them with all subjects. Inserting helpful phrases and vocabulary, creating fun activities and games to better learn the subject that day. But that is, in fact, not how my schedule works. Much to my surprise.

Instead, these last two days, I learned one lesson and taught it on rotation for eight different classes. Running from one class to the next to teach the same thing. Into lesson 6, I felt wilted and a bit like I was talking (and walking) in circles.

Today was slightly better time wise. I had a few half hours to take a break and the last half hour class of the day was bumped.

My lesson this week included teaching the letters S, N, I, A, P, and T. You use hand gestures and the sounds in a story format and then make the students do the gestures and sounds with you. There are also songs. That I now cannot get out of my head; “Inky the mouse is my pet. He spilled the ink on his head…”

The differences

All students gather outside the school before the bell at 9 am. There is pump-up music of sorts blaring across the open playground.

There is a locked gate around the school that is only open right before school starts and directly after it ends.

The teachers have the option to wear smocks of sorts- basically like a cover over their clothes, often bright and fun in color.

Teachers, as far as I can tell, change classes back and forth, rotate students around, and split classrooms in half for different subjects. At this moment in time, I can’t make much sense of it.

My school is very new, just over a year old. Each classroom has these really neat interactive boards that you can draw and pull games up on. Such fun.

**My bus has been late both mornings now, 15 minutes yesterday and 12 today. Suffice it to say, I’m already over the public transport system haha.

I am working at two different primary schools, alternating weeks between the two of them and working a total of 12 hours a week split into 3 days. So in a word, I’m very lucky. I don’t have to work every day of the week, and because of my schedule, I am able to enjoy a five day weekend every other week.

I will probably be taking on some private lessons as well because I little extra cash never hurt anyone. Especially because I will noot get paid until the end of October (and even then there are horror stories of teachers not getting paid until almost November.)

Funny story of the day

In most classes there hasn’t been time to really introduce myself, but today I was able to in one of my classes. Afterwards the kids wanted to ask questions.

“Do you like fútbol?” “Yes, I actually played for nine years.” Astonished faces look at each other around the classroom. “You played fútbol?”

“Do you have a novio? (boyfriend)” “No, do you have a girlfriend?” The little boy blinks, blushes furiously, and doesn’t look at me the rest of the class.

“Do you like video games?” “Do you like animals?” “Do you speak Spanish?”

All of the kids want to know if I speak Spanish. I’ve been advised by friends to always say no because once they know they can get away with it all in their language, getting them to speak to you in English is much harder.

Tomorrow is my last day this week, then I get a break. #roughlife

Also, shout out to my Alma-mater for hosting the VP Debate yesterday! What an amazing way to put Longwood, or I mean Norwood, even more on the map!

So cool fact! These caves/tunnels carved into the mountains used to be where people lived. It was warm during the winter and cool during the summer. Now people use them for storage of things, including wine!