“Are you a student..No?” “But you look so young!”
I have had this conversation so many times now, that I’ve lost count. I know this won’t be the last time either. Okay, I should have expected being just over 5 ft that most of the first years I teach are taller than me. No wonder I have been mistaken for a student so many times! I even heard one girl in my class say to another that she felt really tall when I was around. Great.
So as if trying to distinguish myself as member of staff rather than a student wasn’t difficult enough, my first two days at school were pretty scary. I decided to go into school the week before I was officially meant to start so that I could have a look around and get to meet the teachers… basically get my head round what I was going to be doing the next 8 months of my life.
I was picked up outside the piazza where I live by the deputy head teacher. The school is out of town in the middle of the countryside therefore it is easier to travel by car as it would take around 40 minutes to walk. School here starts at 8 am, and its times like this when I miss rolling out of bed 10 minutes before lectures at uni. The deputy head teacher was glad to know that I could actually speak some Italian as he didn’t know a word of English. The first day was spent filling out essential forms and admin things, so nothing very exciting. I also got to meet some of other subject teachers of the first classes and quickly observed a few first year classes which I would be assisting in.
The second day quickly came around and I thought that today I would be getting shown round the school maybe meet a few teachers that I would be working with. This was not the case. I was immediately thrown in the deep end being asked to teach a first year class alone since the English teacher had taken a few days off. Having absolutely no teaching experience I was horrified. Teaching a class by myself? I haven’t even assisted in a class with a teacher. This was not at all how I was expecting to spend the second day; I mean I hadn’t even officially started teaching!
I was very glad to find that the first class I had been given was well behaved and they were all very interested in everything I had to say, this made my job a lot easier. However, having not planned any lessons apart from having made an introductory PowerPoint (then finding out they only had chalk boards) I was left to think on the spot of activities to keep the class entertained. Thankfully they were fascinated by the differences between English and Italian schools and my life back in England. Then they were more than happy to introduce and tell me things about themselves. I found that the lesson passed quickly as the class was enthusiastic and keen to learn. I couldn’t have asked for a better class to teach for the first time. At first, I was annoyed at how they expected me to take a class alone, but looking back I think it did me the world of good, making the nerves and fear of taking a class alone disappear.
So this is how I spend the first 2 days as a Language Assistant. I had done more in the first 2 days than I thought I would be doing the whole year.