As usual I was stuck when it came to deciding which three people I wanted to express gratitude to – as once again there are so many, I really didn’t know who to choose! But I finally decided on three and you’ll notice that there’s a theme with this post – other than gratitude – as all three people who I would like to express gratitude to have all played a major role in my career as a teacher for which I can never thank them enough.
1. MY AUNT
I’m really grateful to my aunt because after spotting an ad in the paper for a teaching position in London that she knew I would love, she informed me immediately. Mr. D and I were living in Devon at the time, working in student accommodation, and we HATED every second of it (not necessarily picturesque Devon but the job and the people we had to deal with.) We wanted to either come back to London or return to Bournemouth where we had previously been living but work was very thin on the ground so for the time being at least, we weren’t going anywhere.
Then I received a call from my aunt who, knowing that I wanted to go into teaching English, said that she’d seen an ad in the paper for teachers at a language school in Central London and that I should apply. So I did – and found out that I had two days to get down to London for an interview to see if I’d be accepted for the training program. Ever the optimist, I didn’t think I would pass the training, so I booked a coach ticket and headed over to London with just a week’s worth of clothes not knowing that I’d never be going back to Devon again…
2. P.B. – THE TRAINER
I had three trainers in total plus a lovely principal and I am grateful to all of them, for the opportunities, support and help that they had given me. But why I feel that I have to thank P.B. first and foremost is because he was the trainer who interviewed me and gave me the chance to train there. He seemed very no-nonsense and the kind of person who wouldn’t put up with any of my shenanigans, and he even warned me that the training program was very tough and intense and that even if I was accepted for the training, there was a chance that I might voluntarily drop out due to the pressure. Filling me with confidence, he wasn’t!
For reasons I’m not sure either of us understand, I was put through to the training program – something I’m sure he’s regretted ever since! Ever the optimist, I was sure I wouldn’t pass training, but not only did I do so but I continued to work there right up until the school very sadly shut down (that’s a whole other story) Had it not been for P.B. I would never have had the chance to do something I loved, and realise for the first time that I’m actually good at something. I met tons of really cool people, both staff and students, who I’m still in touch with to this day – including P.B. of course!
3. STAFF AND STUDENTS AT SCHOOL NO.2
OK, I’m cheating here a little because instead of expressing gratitude to one other person, I’ve chosen to be thankful to a bunch of people – but it’s impossible to to select just one person. Who should I choose? The receptionist who handed over my CV that had turned to paper maché when I walked in from the rain looking like a drowned rat? The former colleague from my previous school who unbeknownst to me was at that school, and put in a good word for me when he discovered that I had applied? Or the principal who hired me based on the strength of my CV and what my colleague had told her and felt that a formal interview wasn’t necessary? The staff that took care of me when I got sick? The staff that propped me back up when I suffered a devastating blow while at work? And I could never forget the amazing students there who were an absolute joy to teach.
When my visa came through to move to the States, I handed in my notice and did so with a very heavy heart for while I was happy to be reunited with Mr. D. and start the next stage of our lives together, I was also very sad to be leaving a place where I was ecstatic to go to every day – and how many people can claim to be ecstatic about going to work? When my last school shut down, I never thought that I’d ever find another place to work where I could fit in so effortlessly and be so damn happy – but I did. And I have all these fantastic people to thank for that – people who are no longer staff, colleagues or students but friends.
I feel a little sad today.
I had to say goodbye to a student who had been in my class since April. He was a delightful student and an absolute pleasure to teach. I only wish all of my students could be like him.
I’m thankful that I work in an EFL college and not in a mainstream school as I really don’t think I’d have been able to handle the pressures that go along with that territory – mainly difficult pupils and their even more ridiculously difficult parents. I have family and friends who work in secondary schools so I hear the horror stories. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t come across my fair share of awful behaviour. I’ve had students who are impolite, arrogant, ignorant and thoroughly unpleasant to be around. They’re apparently here to learn English so as to improve their chances of getting work, but who on earth would want to hire people with that attitude who are more than old enough to know better, I really don’t know. There have been times I’ve dreaded going into class – which is a ridiculous thing to say seeing as I’m the teacher – but that just goes to show how miserable the situation can sometimes be. All I can do is hope and pray for the day when the worst of the bunch leave – although I have no idea why it takes so long!
And then there’s the other end of the spectrum. There’s the kind of student who makes you want to go into class every day. They’re attentive, courteous, eager to learn, full of questions, respectful, and always have time for a laugh and a joke. Basically, they’re smiley, happy people – my kind of people. And you just know that, unlike the above, they have all the qualities that will see them go far in life and succeed. I certainly hope so because the world is in short supply of fantastic people like these and we could do with more of them.
So my brilliant student who has finished his course and is now heading home to continue with life as normal has inspired me to write this post. But my students actually inspire me in more ways than they know – even though it’s probably my job to inspire them. They’re the reason why I work hard at being a better teacher, and why I try to be more patient, understanding and encouraging. But they’ve inspired me in other ways too. I see what they do and I want to be more like them. No, I don’t mean getting legless at the school parties we have at clubs around the city – although I have no problem with that! But I see the effort they put into learning a language; the experiences they’re having; the countries they’re visiting; their love of travel; the way their eyes light up when they see something new… and it makes me want to experience some of that for myself. So much so I’ve decided to get back into studying languages again and would love to experience time away in another country.
It’s not just the students who are learning…
…teacher is too – and I have my amazing students to thank for that.
There are some things about people I swear I will never understand…
I think by now it’s crystal clear that one of my pet peeves is people who have no sense of spatial awareness. I have absolutely zero time for people who inconvenience others and show no consideration for them by hogging room; invading their space and blocking access to entrances and exits thus wasting everyone’s time. It’s something so basic that it annoys the hell out of me when I see it because it indicates a sense of entitlement and arrogance.
I absolutely love my job as an English teacher and consider myself very fortunate to get up every morning to go to a job I enjoy; I get to work alongside great colleagues and meet some fabulous people from all over the world. But one thing that really p***es me off is when groups of students congregate in some of the most inappropriate places making it difficult for the rest of us to get by. I mean did they really think they had the whole school to themselves?
Take yesterday for example. I had just finished one class and was on my way back to the staff room when I realised that I was caught up in very slow moving traffic on the stairs. That’s nothing unusual during the summer months when we have a massive influx of students and you will not be going anywhere in a hurry. However, we were not exactly heaving with students so I left my place in the orderly single file that people had formed to go down the stairs to see what was causing the hold-up.
Would you believe it? Some wally had decided to stop right there on the staircase… to read and reply to a text! Well that’s all right then. Never mind all the students who have to make it on time to their next class. Or the teachers who only have ten minutes to sort out paperwork; re-check schedules; handover files to colleagues; have a smoke; grab a coffee or use the bathroom and make it to class on time with no excuses. But I can see how checking your messages is an emergency that warrants causing movement on the stairs to come to a standstill though I’m willing to bet that even President Obama responds to messages concerning global catastrophe with less urgency.
And talking of using the bathroom, you wouldn’t believe how many students don’t see anything wrong with standing right behind the closed door of the ladies toilets. It’s so stupid not to mention dangerous as they risk being walloped in the head – which is exactly what I have done a few times before apologizing profusely (once I’ve gotten over the shock of almost taking someone’s head off) while thinking, “just how dumb are you?” I understand that the queue for the ladies is sometimes so long that it goes halfway down the hallway but the smart thing to do would be to pull the door open and stand in front of it, enabling users to have a clear view of where everyone is and eliminating the risk of accidents.
A colleague even told me about a student he saw getting hit by a door as she stood right behind it. Instead of moving, she remained there – and got hit again!
“Honestly,” he exclaimed, “I couldn’t believe her stupidity. And why do students feel the need to congregate in doorways when there are so many other places where they stand and chat?”
Why indeed. but it seems that staircases, narrow hallways, doorways, in fact any where that can create an obstruction for people who need to pass seem to be favourite places for students to hang out and gossip. I have no idea why this seems to be a prime location for them – it just is.
There have even been complaints from the general public about students who crowd the main entrance of the school and spill out onto the streets making it difficult for people to get through. In fact there were so many complaints that the school had to put up a sign asking students not to gather in front of the school en masse. Surely that’s just common sense? But sadly as most people know, common sense is steadily in decline.
So next time Teacher hits you on the head when she opens the door, remember it was your own stupid fault!