I promise I haven’t left you. It’s just, well, I’ve been really busy these days.
So busy, in fact, that I went to bed on July 3rd and now am waking up three weeks later.
I’m in La Coruña, the northerly capital of the wild corner of Spain that rests above Portugal. For the past three summers, I’ve worked for a summer camp company, surviving a “TEFL boot camp” and giving class for several hours a day during the month of July.
Then they made me the Jefa, or as my teachers call me, The Big Boss Lady. My main concerns are my teachers’ well-being, the successful completion of a pre-planned English language course, overseeing the blogger and taking care of the students while they’re in class. I also deal with coordinating diets, bedrooms, social planning and parent phone calls. It’s a lot of work, but fulfilling and a nice change. I needed a break from small humans, and being able to help other teachers strengthen their skills as ELL educators is surprisingly fun. What’s more, I have a great group who are willing to hear criticism and make positive changes, who are fun to be around, and who give me excellent feedback.
Regardless, it’s making me miss teaching older learners, and I think I’m better suited to work with them. It kind of struck me when I was reading 331 student reports and thought about all of the great things my teachers can do in the classroom with a reduced class size and materials coming out their ears.
The end of camp is nearing; we’ve just two more class days to endure and not much else to do. I’ve got inventory and close-down, and my teachers are already planning how to spend their well-earned money. Here’s an idea of my typical day:
7:30 Wake up, grab my DOS phone and lanyard, and get ready for the day
7:50 Re-read any company-related emails, check photocopy bin and put chairs in the video room into order. Hunt down teachers, if necessary.
8:15 Breakfast. Several coffees.
9:00 Class, period one. I do a sweep of the hallways to make sure kids are in class, answer phone calls about missing materials, absent students and clarifications. This stuff repeats after each break.
10:20 Attend monitor meeting on occasion to hear about nightly parties, meet with my awesome boss, Pablo (the Pabs to all), and grab a quick coffee for me and my favorite sevillano, Antonio.
10:30 Students and teachers have a 15-minute break,
10:45 Much of the same. When I’m not doing those tasks, I’m observing teachers, correcting exams or reports, inputting data, fielding parent phone calls, dealing with discipline, or working ahead. I have to turn in a daily report of everything that happens, read each teacher’s lesson plans, check inventory and order whatever is missing and always be available in case of emergency. Thankfully, I have my blogger, who is like an extra set of eyes and ears in the classroom to help me when I can’t make it to everything. I often visit classes to help teachers improve, learn myself or just enjoy the great things I see and hear about.
12:00 Second break, which I usually spend in the Teacher’s Room
12:15 Last period of the day, usually used to prepare things. I sometimes write checklists for teachers, pre-write important information on poster paper, etc. I also make sure I’ve talked to Pabs.
13:30 Class ends; Teacher meeting. I meet with teachers daily at the end of the class period to check-in, give information and salute those who are doing a great job.
14:00 Lunch, which looks a lot better than this.
14:30 – 16:00 Office Hours. I meet with teachers on a regular basis to give them feedback and answer questions, and during this time I also read the daily LPs and proofread the blog.
If I have time before dinner that is not spent doing things for Forenex, I am sleeping, on Facebook or out of the teacher zone. Sometimes I get into La Coruña to do some shopping, walk around or go to the beach, though this year has been extra rainy. If we go out at night, it’s to a one-euro tapas place and the monitor bar up the street, and many nights my normal 12am bedtime is out the window.
I’ll miss this pace, the people and the job when I pack up my boxes and send teachers back to where they came from Wednesday morning. But, seriously, I’m beat! Any questions as to why I become a hermit when I get back to America next week? Think this 11-month period without stopping to breathe should be pretty clear.