One of the things we learned in the CELTA Certification course was to immediately write your name on the board so the students know what to call you. Apparently, the University of Cambridge, who put this course together, never taught in Costa Rica. Here, my name is “Teacher?!”
I kind of like the sound of it! Even if I don’t really believe yet that I actually AM a “teacher?!”, I’ve got three different classes of students yelling at me … “teacher?!”, so … even with the question mark at the end, I now believe, wholeheartedly, that I am a “teacher?!” … and that they can’t pronounce “Lori.”
CELTA also taught us to have our students write their names on a folded piece of paper, and place it on the table in front of them , so that we would know what to call them … like “Juan” or “Jose” or “Graciela.” Heather had her class do this, and one young lady wrote in very small letters “Maria Isabella Ramirez.” Heather said to the young woman “Your full name is not necessary, “Maria” will be fine!” The young lady then proceeded to turn her piece of folded paper over and write in even smaller letters, “Maria Isabella Ramirez Sabaja.” Apparently, she miscalculated the amount of space writing her name would take, on her first attempt.
Upon hearing this story, I decided that for my classes, I was going to ask each student to write their FIRST name on the board, in the hopes of avoiding such an issue. I mean, six students per class, four names each … YOU do the math. They can’t figure out “Lori,” and I’m supposed to remember twenty-four names? So, they dutifully wrote their first names on the board, and, I snapped a picture of them! This would be my “upper intermediate” class that I teach every Tuesday and Thursday from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. “Teach”. There’s that word again …
Yes, we really are teachers. Hard to believe. But we both got jobs working for the local school in town, which is two blocks away from our apartment (Oh … I’m sorry … It’s “Ciento cincuenta mide cuesta abajo a la izquierda, el primer piso del edificio de blanco encima del videoclub de contraband,” which loosely translates to “One hundred fifty meters down the hill on the left, the second floor of the white building above the bootleg video store.” Try teaching your students the word “address” here. Not happening.
Teaching is a challenge, to say the least. You may remember I said that driving was a challenge, but I have since re-evaluated that statement, and decided that driving is not a challenge. It’s actually an “extreme sport”. One of which I am getting extremely good at.
Even with all of the insanity (for example, the owner of our school is a disorganized scatter-brained Brit named Oliver, who I will probably bitch write about in future installments) Heather and I are beginning to acclimate ourselves to our new chosen careers, and ridiculously small paychecks. The fact that we both “inherited” some of our classes midway through their course schedules has not been easy, but those classes that we have had the opportunity to “teach” from inception, are keeping our educator spirits high, and helping us to realize that we’re pretty good at what we do.
And I kind of like being called “Teacher?!”