I was a teacher.....not a teacher's aid!

Published: June 24th 2014
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I finished up at the school by playing ‘pass the parcel’ with my 6 year olds. I thought that I was pretty safe with plastic motor bikes and little dolls as my surprise gifts. It worked reasonably well until the first pink motor bike appeared. It seems that gender colours are already attributed at this age and the poor little kid got a round of laughter from his mates. Little did they know that there were 2 more to be distributed! Fortunately for me, I hadn’t done my homework on how many kids I actually had in the class. This meant I had over-catered and that I could swap the pink for more appropriate colours of green or orange…..whew!!

Next was my senior year but unfortunately I missed this class. I hadn’t been given an official schedule for the 3 weeks I was teaching (not really surprising when you consider that they were so desperate they had to use me as a teacher!). Consequently I had left this period off my schedule when I had been copying onto my scrap paper. I was pretty disappointed when I realised my mistake that I didn't have them later in the morning as I had really wanted to say goodbye to my favourite class (as I kept reminding them).

Then it was off to the tough guys… 13-15 year olds. I decided that they were going to find out how much they didn’t know and told them that they were going to do the self test in the next 10 minutes or no chocolate! And just to make sure they knew I wasn’t bluffing, pulled out the 2 big blocks of chocolate, proceeded to break them up and eat a piece. Well, it was the quietest lesson I had taught for the last 3 weeks and everyone of them heard my timer go off. They also knew despair when they called out for my help and were met with a definite “NO!” Turns out they needed to concentrate on exactly what I had suspected. Yes, yes, they got chocolate but at least now there is also something concrete for the next teacher (whenever they arrive???) to base their lessons on.

Goodbyes were then exchanged with the grade 5’s and 4’s which included big hugs and lots of photos. These kids really love their English lessons and join in with all the songs that are on the CDs provided with the books. They were so cute and sincere and the word 'teacher' will always hold a very special meaning for me now, as is how they referred t me when ever they saw me. I would hear "Teacher!", turn and see a happy smiling face as they called out to me in the playground, if I saw them in the street or when I was leaving to walk home.

I was very fortunate to be involved in this project, which include the opportunity to follow the other teachers in their classes when I wasn’t teaching mine. Having watched the different teaching styles, the way they organized their day, interacted with the children, the difficulties in managing so many different levels of English when they were a teacher short and English classes being cut for sport classes or other activities, I have gained a lot of new insights. I had said to Jenny when I first arrived that I didn’t want to just sit and watch the teaching as I would end up going to sleep. Well, it’s funny what you wish for, and while I was very stressed being asked to teach so many different levels with limited resources, no knowledge of the kids English level, and no time to put a real program together, I feel that I at least helped the English department get through a tough time.

I met so many nice people, had amazing experiences and so lucky to be able to say “I not only visited the Galapagos Islands, I lived there”!

My last minute shopping included buying a book about the islands to read on the beach in Mexico. I was so looking forward to this. Can you image how disappointed I was when I opened the book to kill time at the airport and find that I had picked up the German version!!! How lucky are you Moni and Steve???!!!

My next blog will be my last……for this trip anyway.

Unfortunately the internet is very slow and I have only uploaded a few pictures for this blog.

I hear the weather is shit in Melbourne, Albury/Wodonga and if that keeps up I may just miss my flight until………….summer!! Stay safe everyone.

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