Oh wow, terrific news yesterday that I guess never landed in my text message inbox during August while travelling: every single one of my 11 kids passed the Michigan ECPE that they took in May!
Ahh my little teenies have done it!! I knew they all could, but I figured there’s bound to be one who misunderstands something or runs out of time or just is too nervous to write well. But no, all that prep work, all those essay corrections, all those pep talks and extra essays I dug up and made them read, all those discussions I dragged out of them. We prepared them for every angle. *Sigh*
I’m just so happy for all of them. They all worked really hard and they all deserved it equally. (There was a couple lower level students with the lower English test, the FCE, who really did deserve it and didn’t get it for stupid reasons and I was crushed for them.)
I’ve also had them for almost the whole time I’ve been teaching there and was so bummed not to see their little faces anymore. They were my mini, almost-adults, and when they did a bunch of work I rewarded them by teaching them the slang they wanted to know. I can’t believe that we never took a picture all together. 😦 sad, a bit, but really SOOOOOOO happy.
I’m also super ecstatic (Greek word) that my boss has such a great statistic to tout around and use to recruit more students (and me more hours). Also these kids were split into 2 days, which meant I saw both classes and my boss saw one and the other teacher saw the other one, so they all saw me, which in the very least means that I had something to do with their success. Not to downplay my boss’s role, she is an amazing teacher and businesswoman, it’s just nice to have something concrete to vindicate all my hard work and it gives me a bit a breathing space in that I don’t have to be so hard on myself because I think maybe my boss doesn’t think my effort is enough.
Oy we perfectionists can work ourselves to death as teachers.
Anyway as a native speaker I feel sometimes that other teachers think we’re a bit of a joke since we aren’t the grammar czars they are, and since I do more “fun” things, like making them have discussions about history, pollution and space exploration. Yes, teenagers love these topics. But I know my boss respects the job I do. It’s just a nice thing to push away doubts in anyone’s mind.
Plus today I got to brag on my kids to the math and physics teachers. Heehee. And as soon as I see this year’s proficiency group and the one that has yet to be formed, I’ll be bragging up and down about how great this last one was.
Cause I play both sides of the cultural card. As the American, I will build this kids up with positive reinforcement, because I don’t care what the Europeans say, if I kid grows up hearing it’s stupid, it’ll think it’s stupid, but if they get an “atta-boy” when they try, they put in more effort. And more sustained effort equals more success.
But as a so-called adopted Greek, when my kids start slacking off and making ridiculous excuses for poor performance, I will annihilate them with wit and logic until they realize it won’t get them anywhere. A good example: last year I didn’t see one class I used to have, cause of scheduling issues. I got them back at the end of the year and tore them to pieces for how little English they understood and used and how bad their vocab scores were now. Then I told them I hope everyone wasn’t telling them to take the FCE next year, cause I wouldn’t bet on anyone passing.
Their little mouths were hanging open and I said “What? I’m not afraid to tell you if everyone else is. You guys are making no effort and you can’t snap your fingers and think you’ll speak English right before the test. If you don’t start now, it won’t be enough.”
I make fun of my kids all the time. It took me ages to realize you can’t handle Greek kids with kid gloves like you have to in America. If I crack a good joke and the class laughs at one of my cheeky students, they won’t be repeating that habit again. Being nice to everyone won’t work. My 13 year old girls call each other fat ALL the time. If someone called me fat when I was that age, I’d burst out crying.
I used to think, hey why are all the Greeks so mean to me? Then I realized they are “mean” to everyone. If I weren’t so damn sensitive when I was there for 4 months, I’d be fluent in Greek right now, but every comment and wisecrack shut me up. This was after I lived in London for 6 months and had all the regulars at the bar taking the piss out of me every night. So please bear in mind, I thought I was pretty desensitized to such commentary.
Tangent aside, tomorrow is my first day teaching the seniors and the kids. I had a wonderful day, albeit with a rocky start at the accountant’s office. It’s sunny autumn weather and I was reminded today how fall is the best in Germany cause that nasty wet weather is gone for 2 months and it stays crisp but mild.
Not to mention after 3 weeks of constant driving, I went bouncing all around the city thinking how wonderful it was to feel the pavement under my feet again.
So I am pinch-me-a-little-bit-if-this-isn’t-a-dream happy!