It is that time of year again; the leaves are off the trees, there is dirty snow on the ground, the students are tired and eager for coming break, the teachers more so, the classroom is littered with part finished winter decorations and I am permanently covered in glitter. For two weeks at the end of every year I am driven to distraction by sparkles catching my eyes and stuck on the end of my nose. Regardless of the mess, the glitter annoyance, and the fact that everyone is tired, as I am wrapping up 2012 I have come to the realisation that I love what I do. It's taken nearly nine years, but better late than never I say.
This may seem like a strange observation to make, not many people can say they truly love what they do, but in teaching you often meet a large number of those who do. Teaching is not a job people usually find themselves in unless they love spending time with children. I am ashamed to say that is not the case for me.
I started teaching in Thailand in 2001. I had never really liked children and it was purely a means to an end; I was living there and needed to do something to earn enough money to survive. I found myself doing what about 80% of western people did at the time... standing in front of a class of people who barely understood a word I said, trying desperately to look like I knew what I was doing, and fighting the impulse to stop myself running screaming out the building. That first year was a baptism of fire and I’m not sure how I ever ended up doing a second year. I was obviously lacking in sense in my early twenties.
While I have always loved the perks of being a teacher; free periods, travel opportunities, unrivalled holidays and no two days the same, I never really liked the contact hours. To be honest, initially for the most part I didn't even like the children. During the first few years my fondness of the students thankfully did increase; I realised that on the whole they were quite harmless, and that the classroom actually wouldn't burn down when I ran out of ways to keep them busy. In fact, at times, it was almost fun. I still didn't really like teaching and preparing lessons, and still liked the classroom best when there was no-one in it, but as far as jobs go it definitely wasn't the worst thing I have ever done.
Finding myself still teaching six years later, having limited career alternatives available, and being unable to face the thought of losing the three months of paid holiday a year, I decided that if I was going to keep teaching then I might as well do it properly. Confident that with six years of experience I would find a training course a breeze, Nick and I set off to Australia for a high speed teaching qualification. When we started the course it quickly became apparent that apart from classroom management (teaching a class of up to 34 six year old boys has got to be good for something), we didn't know much at all. We had been doing the best possible job we could as untrained teachers, but there was so much we had missed. It was a tough year with some tough teaching experiences. Definitely not a breeze.
Last year was our first year as qualified teachers, and for those who follow the blog you'll know that for all the training and experience we had had, nothing could prepare us for the work and stress that was to come. We spent the entire year fighting hard to keep our heads above water. There were tears, tantrums and full on nervous breakdowns from me and I questioned whether it was the easy career choice I had thought.
Eight years on, my second year as a qualified teacher, and all the pieces of the puzzle are finally coming together. Now that I can do it properly, or thereabouts, the contact hours have become more of a pleasure than a chore and even planning lessons can be enjoyable. I always used to question the boundless energy and motivation displayed by some of the supremely dedicated teachers I have met. Now I find that instead of being desperate to down tools at the end of the day and get as far away from school as possible on the weekends, I find myself reading and thinking about school stuff a lot of the time, and while I wouldn't go as far to say that I look forward to Monday mornings, there are times after a weekend in sleepy Ifrane that I’m not far off.
Now... if only someone could enlighten me with a fun way to do report writing and life would be perfect.