What can a teacher do during holidays? Theoretically – have some rest. But since being a teacher is not the best paid job in the world (sniff…), one may also decide to work in a summer school. And that’s what I did, hence the dead silence on the blog; but from now on I will try to update it quite often. New schoolyear, new resolutions, hah!
Anyways, I was working as a teacher in a pretty lovely school in Taunton, England (watch the Hogwarts effect above!) and would like to share my experience. Some things were frustrating, some were great, but is working in a summer school worth sacrificing precious holidays?
One of the most important reasons why I decided to apply for the job was English – I’m not a native speaker, and working in Poland for a couple of years, without much contact with the native language users, is not beneficial for my own development. Working in England and having to use the language almost constantly was supposed to boost my language skills.
And it did, of course – I picked up some new expressions (like ‘half-pint’), worked on my pronunciation and met a lot of lovely people. I was lucky to work in a group of really good and dedicated teachers, had really great students (but it’s my usual luck, somehow I get really nice groups). When it comes to language and social experience – brilliant!
As a teacher I went on excursions and that was something I really liked – managed to visit London, Cardiff, Glastonbury, Salisbury (with the most beautiful cathedral I have ever seen!) and other places, all of them really cool. It was fun, explaining the importance of those sites: I will never forget a lesson on Glastonbury Tor as a gate to Avalon, my students had the wildest ideas 🙂
My DoS was a person who knew enough of TEFL to let me try teaching dogme style – I got an upper-intermediate group and spent six weeks trying to stimulate the students with as little materials as I only could. For six weeks I haven’t used a copier! I haven’t used the Internet in the classroom! As I’m a sworn blended learning fan, it was a challenge. And, surprisingly, fun (but will write about it in another post).
When it comes to frustrating aspects of a summer school, well, I have to mention two things: food and ‘follow-the-handbook’ way. The first was a combination of traditional school food and British food which wouldn’t have been so bad, if we hadn’t had to eat it everyday. For six weeks 🙂 The first thing I did after I landed in Kraków was going to Jeff’s and having a juicy burger 🙂
The second thing was a bit more serious, probably due to the personnel changing every year. To make things easier, the company has a nice handbook for us to use. The thing is, sometimes it is better to adjust the organizational stuff to the staff, rather than make everyone follow the handbook. Now, some people don’t really get it and, well, some things could be managed more efficiently, I believe 🙂
Overall, it was a valuable experience. Is it worthy sacrificing a couple of your weeks off? Huh, depends on a definition of ‘a couple’ 🙂 But six weeks in my case was OK, and I would recommend that kind of spending holidays to every teacher who likes challenges and meeting new people.
Oh, and the thing that killed me was the weather! I left Poland to avoid heatwave in July… and what I got was heatwave in the UK to which nobody was prepared. English weather? I had to wait a month for rain! A month!!
That was evil 🙂