Where did five months go in Poland?
So today was my last day and I realise that over the past 5 months’ worth of teaching I have learnt so much. I started out with few responsibilities other than turn up to school and go to the classes I was scheduled to attend. After about a month I was asked to start preparing my own lessons. Here are some things that I really enjoyed, worried about, remember etc about being a teacher (yes I’m putting them in dot points):
- Being told to teach a bunch of kids would have been scary enough for me when I was at home, so being in a country where I don’t speak the language or really understand their curriculum or know how to teach the language I’ve been speaking all my life, was actually terrifying.
- The good news is that I got more confident as time went by, yesterday I even taught a bunch of energetic eight year olds about Kookuburras WITHOUT having a Polish speaking teacher in the room!
- I found that teaching by myself, without a supervising teacher, to be much easier than with a teacher in the room. When I was by myself I felt more confident in my abilities and authority over the class, and I think the kids also viewed me more like a teacher at these times too.
- Consequently, I tended to feel happier about the lessons I did on my own than while supervised.
- Sometimes lessons would crash and burn, and essentially leave me wondering why I came to Poland in the first place. I remember have some classes where the students just wouldn’t listen to me, or I just wasn’t prepared enough to cope.
- Teachers do have favourite students and classes. I often found myself dreading some classes while getting excited about others. I also had a 4-5 favourite students who always made sure the rest of the class behaved and would greet me in the halls.
- Sometimes all it takes to make your day is when a 7 year old little Polish girl who barely understands English runs up to you and says ‘Hello Samantha, how are you?” and patiently waits for a response even though she doesn’t understand a word you say.
- One of the scariest things I encounter was being headbutted by a 6 year old in 0 class as she launched at me screaming ‘I love you!’
- I now am confident enough to manage a group of 6 year old girls who are dubbed the most troublesome class in the school.
- I can officially navigate Microsoft word in Polish (mainly because I know all the shortcuts and they are the same in Polish as English).
- Sometimes it’s best not to ask what you are eating until AFTER you finish it or not at all, especially when it comes to a school cafeteria.
- Pasta and strawberry yoghurt, potato cakes covered in sugar, and crepes with sweet cheese are seen as acceptable lunch meals for children.
- I refuse to ever eat cabbage or beetroot ever again (okay this may be more of a Poland lesson in general).
- Most of all though, the thing about being a teacher was learning to both always and never be prepared for anything and everything.
- And lastly, if in doubt, play hot seat (or have a music lesson where the kids show you all different versions of ‘Let it Go’ on YouTube, I mean what? I never did that…)
So there are some of my notes on what my life was like at school. I decided to end it there (though I could go on forever) because I think those are the most important things. I absolutely loved my time at this school, the students and staff where incredible.
Submitted by: Sammy Battaglene