I loved catching up with Hugo yesterday after some months. He’s one of my best friend, that kind of friend when doesn’t really matter how long passed since last time you had a laugh. After one minute of being together, it seems you’ve never been apart. We got to know each other in Dublin, we were colleagues in a big multinational. Time after time our relationship grew stronger, better. We had so much fun together and also some romance.
When he left Ireland for good in 2014, he went back to his parents’ place in Spain in order to complete a Master for becoming a teacher. He’s now teaching Maths and Economics for a private school in his hometown.
I was staring at his eyes while we were having dinner together with another friend who traveled from Spain with him. When the laughs and jokes left space for a conversation about his profession, my world suddenly stopped. I was totally enthralled by his words.
“I lost 7 kgs (almost 16 pounds), I sleep now something like 5-6 hours a night while at the very beginning, it wasn’t more than 3 hours. I have to study a lot before my classes”
I could touch the genuinity of his words by the tone of voice which was swinging. I know him so well and he normally speaks with an open heart. But this time was more.
I suddenly felt back those emotions running inside me, back when I tried to be a teacher. I suddenly wasn’t at that table anymore, I was flying on a pile of papers. The photocopier, my best friend, was next to me. Caesars,power point presentations. Me, myself and my laptop till 3 in the morning, trying to think about a better exercise for my students.
The truth is…it wasn’t just that moment, because of Hugo’s story. I have been thinking about those days at least once everyday for the past month.
I do remember the pain and the discomfort of realizing I didn’t do good, that lack of experience thing that every teacher has to face at the beginning. All those eyes staring at me saying “WTF teacher?!” It was such a weird, unpleasant feeling. I have to embrace it, accept it and take it as a homework to work on. Students’ evaluation, colleagues’ evaluations and self-evaluations too. Planning, planning, planning. While Hugo was talking , I was enjoying running through the fields of my dreams.
I was just thinking how much I was missing all those eyes scrutinizing me, how much I miss helping others in learning something which I have been studying.
I am not experienced. I taught about 15 hours of English as a second language, about 12 classes. But I have feelings that I can get very good at it. First of all, I love studying. If you want to be a teacher, you need to love learning. It is an endless process that is not only projected on the learner, though he is of course the centre around which all the rest is planned. This makes this profession so dynamic, beautiful. Of course, being 50 and having taught for 20 years is not the same. But still, I can see my dad who retired many years ago from the profession. He’s curious like a kid, his thirst for knowledge never ends, he’s always asking questions, listening answers, reading. I have the best examples, my parents are/were the first, closest best examples of good teachers and I was for sure affected by them a lot.
As our delicious Italian dinner was going on, of course the wine didn’t stop pouring from the pitcher. Plates were skilfully being cleaned from all the food we ordered: pizza, aubergines, pasta with seafood and steak. All unexpectedly very good, to be in Dutch~land. Our conversation was still at the same subject, when I suddenly threw up the following words to my friend:
Hugo, we were working for years together in that company, you remember how was our life there. Don’t even dare for a single day to think about stop doing what you are doing to go back to that bloody system. Take this as my best suggestion.
I love remember myself struggling before and during my lessons. I loved trying to plan as much as I could, so that (hopefully) things could have gone smoother through the desks. I absolutely loved designing, amending, adapting, ideating the materials for every single lesson, thinking about my guys.
And twice I can say I saw the magic happening. Once I was still on my teacher training in Athens, the second time I was in a real language school in Dublin, for a conversation class. I get shivers if I think about how my heart jumped, when most part of my students showed they learnt. They learnt, I only showed them the way, holding their hands.
Their smiles, their warmth, made me forget the sleepless night, my dark circles and my sore feet because of the fancy heels. I succeeded in my mission, I gave my contribute for having them thinking, getting their own ideas floating.When this happened in Dublin back in July, I got out of the school and I rang crying one of my best friend. I was thinking about the only one person I wanted to ring and I couldn’t because she’s not here, in this world anymore, but my heart was sinking of happiness. It seemed to me I was talking to her.
People were stopping me on the streets. “Luv, are you ok?” with the cutest Dublin accent ever. Even the worst faces were looking like angels to me.
“Of course I am ok. I discovered what I want to do in my life when I will be grown up…d’y know what I mean?”
Today, in the office, during the best hangover of the week, between one boring call and an even worse email to reply, I reflected about where I have and want to start working on again. I seriously had never left the idea of teaching during these last months, I already thought to start teaching privately or as a volunteer, so that I won’t forget. I signed up for another Cambridge teaching course to be done online. I want to study, I want to be a teacher and I want to see those cute smiles filling my heart everyday.
My dear friend, thank you so much.