If teaching was the only career you could do, BUT you got 1 choice - what age group your students would be (kids, teenagers or adults), what would you pick?
After spending hours and hours writing lesson plans and a whopping 10 hours of classroom teaching time under my belt, I feel fully experienced enough to say …. kids and teens drive me insane! Who knew???
Well OK. Most of you knew this.
What can I say, it's been a 'journey'. My first class was teens at a basic language level, and I chose social media as my subject - I figured they would find that interesting. They learned how to talk about being on the 10 most popular ones, using full sentences. Sounds pretty simple right? Yeah, I thought so too. But boy did that 1 hour suck the life out of me!
I was like Jekyll and Hyde… within 15 mins I had become the teacher from hell. Confiscating phones, making kids swap seats to split them up and I have never said 'shhhh' and 'listen' so much in my life! If I could have gotten away with a time out corner …. half the class would have been sitting in it! The good news is, despite the chaos, they did seem to learn something and passed my checking 'wrap up' activity sufficiently. But by that stage, nothing was going to be enough to make me say 'I want to teach teenagers'! When my tutor gave me feedback the next day she asked how I thought it went - my response was something along the lines of 'well, when I got back to my room lastnight at 10pm the first thing I did was google flights back home.'
The young kids were slightly better, but only slightly. They took to learning days of the week quite well, singing along to some random song I found on YouTube. The adult class went the best of the lot. It was a fitting time, with the football about to be played here, to teach them how to have basic conversations about sports they play. I didn't let on I was from NZ though - that would have been disastrous!
Week 2 and I taught the teens about things they spend their money on (phones, games, music, clothes, makeup etc). The little ones got to learn about superlatives at the zoo (the zebra is tall, but the giraffe is the tallest etc). And the adults learned about nationalities and what a country is famous for. So if any of them meet you at a party they can say 'Oh, you're a New Zealander. You have lots of sheep in your country and eat kiwifruit'. Yes, I know, I could have gone down the Lorde, Peter Jackson and Sir Ed route but you know ….. didn't want to appear too braggy.
Week 3 and the teens learned about who, whose, what & why with a party as the theme. I decided to play them the party scene from Great Gatsby in the hopes of not only appearing cool but also, and more importantly, it took a good 10 mins out of my 1 hour class where I didn't have to talk to them! Its damn hard work teaching them something useful AND keeping them interested, when they really don't want to be there. The little ones learned about things in the sky and on the land using 'here' vs 'there' grammar - difficult to keep them interested at 8pm at night too, for a full hour.
The adults had a lesson on going to the doctor and being able to explain symptoms, boring I know, but practical. The highlight of the week was teaching an 'advanced level' group which was so nice. I chose 'Predicting the future - harmless or harmful' as my topic and they loved it. We looked at Baba Vagna, a blind woman from Bulgaria who has successfully predicted world events like the Thailand tsunami and 9/11 and watched a video about Harold Camping who predicted a date for the end of the world and scammed $80 million USD from his 'followers'. I then did their numerology life path for them and at the end had them debate if predicting the future is harmful or harmless fun.
The last month has been a wild ride - full of real highs and some awful lows. In the end I passed all of the 6 assignments and 7 out of the 10 practical teaching assessments. Not bad for a newbie who had no idea what she was doing when she arrived. I am now officially a TEFL teacher. God help me. God help my students.
Some days when it's all been a bit too overwhelming and I was feeling like I couldn't do this, I'd sit on the beach, usually with Bon Jovi blasting in my ears, watching the waves pounding in. The sand in front of me is a hive of activity as the rather large and numerous, pink crabs busily re-dig their homes for the night. Just off in the distance is two bright flames, endlessly burning from the oil rigs. My head can't comprehend the wildlife disaster that would impact the pristine Galapagos Islands not far from here, should something go wrong on those rigs - let's not dwell on that.
When I first arrived in Zorittos, I hated the place. But the people I have met in this little town at the top of Peru have changed my perspective. From the man in the market, happy to see me every week as he chooses the best fresh fruit and veges from his supplies for me, to the team at my favourite cafe. From the random locals I've met as I strolled the beach who let me take pictures of their daily lives, to the staff at the resort and the other 11 amazing fellow TEFL teachers I have had the pleasure of joining on this journey. Zorittos will certainly hold a special place in my heart.
But now it's time to close that chapter and the open another. I have secured a job in Arequipa (teaching mainly adults you'll be pleased to know) and I have a week to make my way there. It's at the other end of Peru and Monday was a 23 hour bus ride from Zorittos to Lima (I should point out, in the interests of full disclosure, and before you feel too sorry for me …. it was on a luxury bus with 180 degree reclining comfy seats) I'm hanging in Lima for a few days with a couple of the people from the course, before heading off on a 16 hour bus ride to my destination. We have an air bnb apartment in the city and I am so excited to be able to get a real coffee again. When you've had crappy 'café con leche' every day for the last month …. even starbucks looks like a desert oasis! We have made friends with a local guy who speaks pretty good English, he works at the airport as an aircraft mechanic and is going to be our tour guide for the next couple of days. Lastnight he took us out for an amazing dinner and then to his favourite bar for a drink, where the barman turned out to be Matthew from Christchurch. Classic.
Today we visited an ancient pyramid right in the centre of Lima. Built between 600-700 AD out of clay bricks, the site is being restored with loving care by the Lima people. They built it to withstand earthquakes by stacking the clay bricks like books in a bookcase, ensuring gaps were left between each brick. An amazing ancient structure, surrounded by the modern buildings of Lima that house over 10 million people. We also visited El Parquet del Amor, otherwise known as the park of love. Hence the creepy giant statute of a couple making out …. I mean …. "the romantic monument of two lovers in a passionate embrace". The park was opened on Valentines Day in 1993 and the monument is surrounded by romantic quotes scripted in mosaic tiles. I fell in love there …. with a beautiful Bernese Mountain dog that a guy was taking for a walk. I'm sure Oscar will always cherish the pats and cuddles he received from a kiwi girl at el parquet del amor.
Right, about to jump on a bus to Arequipa …. till next time my friends, los extraño a todos ustedes. xx