23 Jan Call me Miss
Since I got back from Greece, I’ve been running around like the proverbial headless chicken, in sharp contrast to the last several months which I’ve spent doing very little at all.
The fact that I’ve been on the go non-stop since I returned is mainly down to one big change: I am officially employed (applause, please).
In December, I started talking to a language school (you might have read about that here), had an interview, and was told I could start as soon as a course became available.
After months and months of job-hunting, it was all exceedingly quick and simple in the end, which in Italy is always a surprise.
First off, I’ll just say that being paid for being English is a bloody wonderful arrangement. It’s almost like being rewarded for taking a Gap Life, and that works well for me.
For most lessons at the school, the students have a book, the teacher has a book and, mercifully, I can get away with just being friendly and chatty and good at knowing what the English word for some Italian words is and vice versa, so minimal teaching expertise is required. But this was not how language-teaching was to start for me…
I’d been told before the holidays that my first job for the school would start in the middle of January, and they’d presumably warned me so far in advance because it was so daunting that I needed a few weeks of mental preparation. Saying I was being thrown in at the deep end would be an understatement; I was being launched head first into the lions’ den. I would be teaching a week-long intensive English course at a private liceo (high school) for twelve teenagers who needed to improve their speaking and listening – so no textbooks, just pure, unadulterated improvisation.
I’d initially been told I’d have the 16 year olds, which I came to terms with before being updated that the groups were organized by ability rather than age, meaning I wouldn’t know anything about these students until I walked into the classroom on the first day.
In the end, the week went infinitely better than anticipated, and the kids (who turned out to be 16-19 years old, so not really kids at all) were all lovely, even if some of them were quite… lively.
Being asked for permission whenever any of them needed to go for a wee was a bizarre experience, but I did get to use the staff room and photocopy to my heart’s content, which brought me much more joy than it should have done. The 4 hours a day went by far quicker than I expected them to (perhaps down to my thoroughly OCD lesson plans) and as quick as you could say let’s-play-taboo-because-I’ve-run-out-of-things-to-teach-you, the week was over and the kids were asking if they could have a group photo to remember the week – surely proof that my acceptance of not having any authority and resignation to just being their mate had paid off.
I’ve now started my ‘proper’ lessons at the language school, and goodness me do they seem less scary after my hectic week of early mornings, late-night lesson planning and energetic teens.
All of the other teachers have been lovely in putting up with my idiotic questions, and I’m feeling settled in to the school already.
If or when the Italian state decides to give me my codice fiscale card, I may even be able to pay my rent next month.
Victory at last.