I’ve always loved the X-Files and their conspiracy theories! However, this is not one of them and there is a good dosage of truth, me thinks! The beginning of the year has always a strange effect on students and teachers alike. Actually, most of us teachers are really excited about getting started again. On the other hand, students are not most of the times and it’s up to us to give them the proper incentives and get them going!
Classic and simple activities are often the most efficient. Get the kids moving!
It’s the strangest time for the teachers, though. There is an invisible war on multiple and weird fronts! School owners vs school owners. School owners vs freelance teachers. Freelance teachers vs school owners. University degree holders vs C2 level holders. Ah, yes. And all of the above mentioned against public school teachers. In general? The most ridiculous of wars in mankind ever! Well, this kind of practice lasts for about a month. Then everyone tries to stick to what the Holy Bible, that is the holy course book demands and they forget about everything else. Let’s not forget the exams! Students don’t study in order to learn a foreign language but to obtain after some years, the least possible, their certificate… Who cares about teaching methods, technology in the classroom, educational matters and cultural contact? Get me the certificate and get it A.S.A.P! the parents command. Don’t mind me! Of course I prepare students for exams and I’m extremely good at it, but it’s not my absolute priority.
Yes! Success! Some of my students with their so desired certificate. We got it! I'm mostly happy because I know I've taught them good though!
This has been a new start for me, a harsh one; closing up the school and going freelance, working on a smaller scale as a tutor and small groups teacher. Indeed, it has been more than hard closing the school as it gives you the feeling that everything you’ve done all these years has gone down the drain. However, I’m discovering that it’s not absolutely true. Talking in financial terms is almost true. Talking in educational terms, I couldn’t be more than wrong.
Downsizing financially, yes… but not educationally! I was worried that I’d give up on my students and my job in general, but there comes a moment when you confess that you were born to teach. No, I’m not the best teacher there is, but I love my profession. I doubt myself every day after my classes. I always keep score of the results my daily classes have on my students. I try to enrich those ‘cursed’ course books, considered to be our Holy Bible and we think that we won’t be able to survive without them! My family, my friends and surprisingly some of my colleagues ask me why I do it. Why I try to change and as I like to say, spice it up a little (or a lot!). Perhaps, I think that if I find it boring, then my students will fall asleep on their desks! Why not then! Why not spice it up a lot! Be ambitious and generous, my father always say. Be ambitious and let your students be it more than possible!
Pic from this year's Halloween
Downsizing in my teaching was not an option. I was additionally worried that I’d give up my principles as a teacher and back off when a parent would threaten me of letting go of my services if I didn’t back down on what their offspring would command all of us to do. That’s a common misconception in Greece. Private classes are thought to must be organized by the student and mostly their mother rather than the teacher! It’s more than hard to explain to a parent that there’s probably something that needs to be looked after, like a most possible learning difficulty. Parents either cannot accept it, or they begin to look down on their kids, doubting that they’re able to learn efficiently if helped properly!
My colleagues and I have been discussing through the years that we’re one of the most unappreciated professions in Greece. All this work, with the minimum wage, applied on both owners and teachers! Downsizing seemed like the proper move. Do not ask me if it was the right move. I’ll have the answer in some years from today. I don’t mind that some of my colleagues do not consider me their equal, now that I’m not an owner any more. I always had that question mark buried at the back of my head: did all of them open up their school the moment they graduated from University? I have come through all the possible job positions a teacher could have in Greece. I have even tried to do office work for some months a long time ago. I didn’t last, only some months and then went running back to teaching. That’s what they can remind themselves, don’t forget where you’re coming from…Nevertheless, I wish everyone the best as I’ve always done.
Thank goodness the first one and a half month is past us now, and our own teaching crisis is behind us. Let's have the best year ever! All of us, by simply doing our jobs.... Until next September then!