Saturday, April 24, 2004

My landlord is, as we Anglo-Saxons say, a super chap. Not only am I paying under the odds for my lovely, well-located flat on a nice piazza, but he’s always full of advice and suggestions for the places I go to visit and will go out of his way to help.

However yesterday, for the first time, I wasn’t so impressed.

One of our teachers (well, the only other teacher apart from our two bosses; we’re a small school) failed to return from her Easter break in England. Consequently I’ve taken on several of her hours, including a session at the technology school where my landlord works. It’s worth pointing out that this session is with a bunch of 17- and 18-year-olds that have previously fallen out of the education system. My former colleague used to dread the lesson.

Yesterday, before I went off to my 9am lesson (why is my one early start a week on a Friday?), I agreed to go with my landlord to the school to meet a couple of people and for him to show me my way around. It was only as we walked into the classroom, where a bunch of spotty, vacant faces were noisily waiting, did he tell me that he wanted me to teach for 45 minutes. In fact he didn’t even tell me; I had to deduce this for myself:

“Sorry, umm... are you expecting me to teach right now?”

“Yeah, yeah.” Laughs. “Sorry. Look, you only have to show them to this website where they can read stuff in English, or maybe play some music or...”. I wasn’t listening now, but thinking as quickly as I have since the last few minutes of my French GCSE exam. Basically he’d failed to find somebody to fill the first half of this slot and decided the best thing was for me to babysit them for a while; he had somebody for the second half.

“You’ll get paid for it”, he said. I should bloody well hope so, I thought. Why didn’t he just ask me beforehand? I would have said yes, and at least then I’d have had some time to prepare.

So what did I do? Fortuanately for everybody involved I can be rather professional at this job, and I had an activity to hand: I stuck a bunch of words about me up on the board: “San Zeno”, “football and skiing”, “English, Spanish and Italian”, “cooking and photography”, “28”, “London”, “Brighton”, “Mathematics”, “one brother” and “they’re retired” and told them that these were the answers and that I wanted them to write the questions.

Fortuanately that was a success, and I left feeling rather pleased with myself. However on reflection it makes me a bit angry: I have to teach these kids, and starting off with a babysitting session with nothing more than a pretence of English-language learning is only going to lead to trouble down the line. He should have told me, and let me prepare myself.

Taken on the fishing island of Procida.

Comments: Post a Comment