Friday, 24 June 2011

Farewells - by Theo

So an era has come to an end. We're on the cusp of leaving Madrid; today most of our belongings shipped out and we'll follow, also by ship, on Wednesday. I've already finished work - Wednesday was my last day, which is to be the subject of this blog.

Working in a language school is a strange dynamic. You have colleagues but you don't really work with them; after all there's only ever one of you in a classroom. Sure, we swap lesson ideas and banter during the brief breaks between classes, but unless you're highly sociable (and I, as a new father, haven't been) you don't really get to know each other. In fact I know my colleagues who shared Spanish classes with me, both of whom were new this year, perhaps better than those who joined with me, two years ago.

Still this is not to say I won't miss them, or the boss and his wife, who were both hugely supportive to Kate and myself during Kate's pregnancy and Rosie's first few weeks. So I was more than happy to join them for raciones and drinks in Goya after work on Wednesday and then again in the Retiro for a picnic the following day - I thought I had stayed out reasonably late, heading home at midnight, only to find most of my (now former) colleagues had stayed out until 6am! I guess I never quite got the hang of that aspect of the Spanish lifestyle.

However, I think it's inevitable that when teaching English, or possibly any subject, it's with your students that a real bond forms, especially in the short-term. After all, if they stay the course you'll end up spending a considerable amount of time with them over the months, much of which will hopefully be by turns enjoyable, frustrating, amusing, challenging and sometimes outright hilarious. Such shared experience usually helps form bonds and ties, though not always: Of the two classes of intermediate teenagers I had this year, the group that were all new students to me in October turned out in full to say goodbye, while the group that included students I'd been teaching for 2 years was a total no-show. Not quite sure what that proves, but I'm sure it proves something.

So it was somewhat gratifying that my favourite group (now I've left I think I'm allowed to admit I had favourites), an adult proficiency class, pretty much all turned out on their last day (Tuesday), despite the fact that they'd already had the exam results back and most other classes weren't even half full. We had a fun time imagining which celebrities might make good English teachers ("David Beckham... well, he didn't speak English very well at the start of his career, but he does now, so he's clearly been through the learning experience") and then, joined by a former classmate who had already passed the Proficiency exam, we grabbed a table in the Plaza de Felipe II and spent a very enjoyable couple of hours setting the world to rights in both English and Spanish.

What a shame I forgot to take my camera to all three farewells.

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