Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The First Day, For the Third Time

Yesterday was the first day of classes in the new semester, and this is now the third time that I've been through this process. Things are different now, however, as my classes have changed and except for 3 students, I have entirely new people in my classes. It's a weird feeling, because I'd gotten used to teaching the same students in my night class, and it was like I was teaching to friends by the end. It was a class that was very quick and willing to pay attention and learn, and they made the rest of the day worthwhile.

Each semester the amount of students I teach has gone down. First I had almost 50 students in both classes. Last semester I had around 40 for both. And now I have around 14 students total, with about 7 in each class. This is a good thing, because teaching to a large class is not an easy thing, especially for languages. Yet there are still large classes out there, and it leaves me to wonder if students just don't want to take a class with me. I won't have any idea really, but it's strange how the class sizes dwindled. I know that my night class students wanted to continue with me, but I wasn't placed with them again, unfortunately. Instead, another volunteer swiped them out from under me, which I'm not too happy about.

Last night we had our usual meeting at 5 o'clock, which is a waste of time for me, and afterward I had to kill an hour before class at 7. It used to be that I could just go straight to class at 6, which was much more convenient. On the way back to the department I ran into my old night class being led to their new classroom. They all said hi and expressed regret that I wasn't their teacher anymore. A few commented on the fact that I was wearing a tie, something I only do on the first day of classes.

After a short greeting they had to continue on to their class and we said goodbye, but I could see a few of the students didn't want to go on. It made me feel pretty sad actually, and I missed that class. It's funny, because I never missed them until that point, and I didn't think I would. Now I'm wishing I'd done a little more to make sure I could have gotten that class again. I don't really have a say in what I teach--I just get my assignment and do what I'm told. But in retrospect, I should have at least asked.

Now I need to start over with a new group of students. My night class now is not a 7 week course, but a full semester of 16 weeks with professionals who come to learn English after work. Hopefully that means they will be more dedicated than some of my other students in the past. Otherwise it will be a long 16 weeks.

The walk back home from the university was a lonely one, because some of my students from my old night class would wait for me and walk with me to the corner before I turned up to Calle Larga. We would joke around and it always made getting through the class a little easier, knowing that afterward we could all be friendly. It was a nice feeling especially because I don't have a ton of friends here. But now I'm going to have to walk home alone again, and quickly because it will be later at night. Not only for safety but because I'll want to get home to maximize relaxation time.

Hopefully I'll still be able to see my old students from time to time and stay in touch. I guess it's a feeling that teachers have every semester or year. You get close with students and create a relationship. Some you can't stand, and others you really appreciate. And then suddenly you aren't their teacher anymore, and the relationship ends. As a student I remember how awkward it could be seeing a teacher outside of school, as if there was no way they could exist beyond the school walls. But now as a teacher, I think it will be nice to see a student walking around in the center. It's a chance to catch up and see if they're still taking English or if they've graduated yet.

It's just going to take a few weeks to find some regularity and rhythm in the schedule, and once that happens I can hopefully form some new relationships with my new students. But I'll still remember the students who were my pilot class and how they helped me figure who I was as a teacher. That's something the university can't take away every 7 weeks.

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