As of this week, the last of my students have taken their final exams for the spring semester, thus bringing the school year to an end. It has been a long 12 weeks worth of instruction, testing, grading (and more grading), but now, all of that is over– for better or for worse.
Besides being the end of the school year for me, this also marks the end of my time teaching here, as I’m under a two-year contract with the university. As this is my second year here, I’ll be officially done with my contract by the end of August.
Knowing that my time here will be up soon, well, my feelings are mixed. For one thing, I’m relieved that I won’t have to continue dealing with certain frustrations (which I’ll save for another post), but also, I find it rather bittersweet to be leaving, especially when I’ve just gotten used to the ins-and-outs of my school, even the city in which I work.
I’m looking back on this spring semester, and I find it to be a rather interesting one. Strange as it sounds, this semester had been both the most-stressful and also the calmest one I’ve had since starting my job here. It sounds weird, I know, but let me explain: it was stressful due to the fact that I put too much work on myself than was necessary. I was teaching both first-year and second-year students, with one class more than I had during my first year of instruction. I gave myself too much to do with preparing lessons, giving out assignments and grading them, etc. True, preparing lessons and grading assignments are part of my job, but I’d pushed myself too much with the curriculum I’d designed for my classes, and I ended up marking so much busy work (and I’m not proud of it). I found myself feeling burned out by Week 7, and I was clearly hating myself for it.
At the same time, however, even though I was doing so much work, I also wasn’t feeling as high-strung or irritated as I’d been in previous semesters. Perhaps it was the fact that I knew that it would be my last semester of teaching at the school that I felt more relaxed with the situation of it all. While I’d been rather strict and cold before, I allowed myself to loosen up, smile more, and be more receptive to my students. I also realized that putting up a cold front didn’t make me so relatable, so I knew that I had to change myself so that I could see changes in the classroom environment. Granted, I wasn’t perfect in that regard, but I hope that I’d been a bit “more human” in class (my students can be the judge of that!).
Again, I taught both first-year and second-year students this spring. Compared with my first year of teaching, I’ve found the classes to be pretty good, in general. Pretty good in the sense that many of the students had a good level of English, as well as being motivated to learn. Of course, some weeks were better than others, but overall, I’d say that most of my classes were manageable. Especially considering that I had such a rough first year of teaching (and subsequently didn’t want to come back for a second year), I’m glad that I chose to stay.
Between teaching and grading, I also found some time to travel. I definitely took advantage of my February and April vacances by visiting Romania and Italy, respectively. I especially have a newfound love for the former country, which I hope to revisit. Likewise, my extended weekend to Paris in March for my birthday was much-needed, and I found myself falling in love with the city again. These short bursts of travel were all the more rejuvenating, and they certainly are preparing me for the longer travels I plan to do this summer!
Any case, when it comes to this “teaching thing,” I guess I can say that I’ve gotten more comfortable knowing my teaching style, even if it doesn’t work with every single individual in class. My colleague had told me last year that my first year would be a “huge learning curve,” and he was right: I’d made so many mistakes when I started out, and it has surprised me that I’ve rapidly improved since then. Again, it has been far from perfect this year, but I’ve found the “mistakes” I’ve made to be minimal. Making the material digestible, as well as having the answer to my students’ inquiries, has gone a lot smoother, and I can’t imagine myself being like this in just the previous year. As said, it has been a massive learning curve!
Even if students can be difficult at times (or, in the case of some, all the time), I’ve learned that it’s never personal and that, at the end of the day, we’re all in this mess together. The school system is severely flawed, and it’s a shame that some students, who are incredibly-bright, don’t do well, because of how we assess their competency in a subject (e.g. written exams, oral expressions). They are human after all, and with different styles of learning that I can’t all encompass within a mere two hours a week.
I’m getting off-topic, but basically, I can say that this semester (and especially my last) has given me a lot to think about: in how students learn, how schools work, and whether I’m cut out for this type of profession. I admit that I’ve come to feel sympathy for my students, who are trying to get through this point in their young lives– some knowing exactly what they want to do, and others not having a clue. And how, unfortunately, schools can be harsh with that. For myself, I still don’t believe that I’ll be a teacher for the rest of my life (as I’d never wanted to get into this career), but maybe I’ll continue to do so for the next year or two until I develop other skills to make a career change.
This has been a rambling kind of post, I know. Especially in this last year as a lectrice, I have had a lot to think about and, in the end, I guess I’m left with more questions than answers: as to whether my students will succeed next year, and if I’ll find another job which I’ll like. To be honest, I really don’t know. But I guess the best way is to continue on, and eventually figure it out. That’s how it is nowadays, and there’s still time. Until then, I have the next couple months of travel to look forward to, and I can’t wait to share them. If any of my students happen to find my blog– hello! 🙂
Thanks for reading up to this point, and I’ll keep you updated later!