I made it through my first week of teaching. It was probably one of the most difficult weeks of work I have ever had.
I had been excited for all of the benefits of teaching adults – motivated, interested, respectful … but I neglected to think about the obstacles – higher expectations and more difficult questions. Also the fact that I am now teaching grammar, rather than only speaking and listening practice is quite a change.
We changed my schedule so that I could start out without being overwhelmed. I have 2 intermediate classes and 1 advanced class. I think both of the intermediate classes are going well, but I’m feeling uneasy about the advanced class. They are preparing for an exam to obtain an English certificate, and I think overall they are just a more serious group. So far they don’t seem to enjoy reading, exercises, nor communication activities, so next week should be even more interesting. My other classes are going well though, they seem to already be learning a lot from only 2 or 4 days. That’s reassuring.
The problems I’ve run into are questions such as ¨What’s the difference between the present perfect and the past simple?¨ or ¨Why do you say ‘make a mistake’ instead of ‘have a mistake’?¨ Hopefully they will be patient with me as I come up with answers for these types of things. The problem is that it’s a LANGUAGE and not everything follows rules. And I think the best way to learn is practicing and making mistakes and figuring out how YOU best remember when to say what… Memorizing rules doesn’t help, especially when they don’t exist or there are a ton of exceptions to the rules.
We’ll see how it goes. I did have one student who was interested in a one-on-one class request to change teachers, and another student in my advanced class ask if I would be the unique teacher they have… sooooo maybe I will change out of that class as well, who knows. The first few days were difficult and I was anxious about my abilities to teach, but I seem to be doing well in my other classes, and I guess if I’m not the right teacher for others, I might not be able to change that.
Needless to say, teaching English is exhausting and far from easy. I’m hoping to line up some more private classes or find opportunities in other fields (difficult due to lack of spanish and working papers), but we’ll see how it goes. Taking it month by month right now.
Outside of work, I’m settling in more here in Vitoria. I’ve met other teachers – both long-term and new – and I’m going to try to visit a few places in the area over the next few weekends. My friend Rachel from Oconomowoc is traveling for a few weeks and will be in Madrid next weekend, so I think that will be a good time to see the capital of Spain!