A night off lesson planning, a chance to sit down with a cup of tea and write. Finally! Here’s an update on the past few weeks..
Stepping in front of a class for the first time when you’ve never done it before is kind of daunting to say the least! As tempting as it would be to say that the past couple have weeks have been about settling in and easing into the school routine, well this really wouldn’t be true at all. I have, in fact, been thrown in the deep end in some respects, but actually that has been the best way to get straight in there and get going!
As I am placed in two schools here in Graz I spent one week introducing myself to all the classes in one and then spent the week after doing exactly the same in my second school. So for 20-odd classes is was a case of “Morning everyone! For what seems the fifteen hundredth time let me draw you a map of what’s meant to be the UK and tell you my life story” For the first three or fours times it’s fun and exciting, but each time after that I felt a bit like a broken record stuck on the same track. Although having said that the bewildered faces when I spoke Welsh could never get old! Most students interestingly didn’t know Wales was a country and many thought Welsh was a dialect of English. So I was glad that if anything my Welsh A-level had stood me in good stance to rectify this unfortunate misunderstanding. I had feared that it would be difficult to fill a lesson with the compulsory ‘Hello my name is..,and I come from..’ things but actually it proved more than successful, as to my surprise students were generally very curious about, well, just about everything, from questioning me on Brexit to asking how much tea I drink, to whether all British people eat salted butter and what brand of lipstick I was wearing that day, I truly heard it all!
The past week has been my third week of the term and that has meant I have been teaching “for real”, as opposed to the relaying my life story spiel. If I’m honest I wasn’t quite expecting to have quite so much responsibility from the get go, but I’ve found that I’ve enjoyed having some freedom with the class, being able to take a topic and create some kind of activity to get the students engaged! It’s been a challenge for sure, I mean when it’s your first time teaching and all the direction you are given is ‘Could you do a lesson on marketing?’ when you’ve never studied anything to do with marketing in your life, that’s quite intense. Yet once I put my mind to it a little and got creative, I actually managed to put together a half decent lesson which even the real teacher complimented, so I guess I must be doing something right?! The classes I teach in range in ages from 15-19, which is good because I get to do some more fun topics as well as some more complex topics for the older students preparing for their exams. In all it’s been a pretty chaotic time settling into the routine of school life, especially the early morning starts.. at 7.45 it takes a few more layers of concealer under my eyes before I look like a presentable human being.
Aside from school business the past few weeks have also been about tying up some last admin bits and bobs.. bank accounts, registration and all that jazz, which I fear is still not entirely complete…(Why so many forms Austria?!) and really just settling back into life in Graz. Autumn time has officially arrived here much to my delight! The leaves are turning all shades of yellow and orange and it’s now acceptable to put on a wooly hat, so I’m very happy about that. I’ve been busying myself with walks by the river in the afternoons and seeing all the locals on their afternoon runs is definitely having its effect on me! Never before have I felt quite so determined to master a weekly exercise routine so I don’t stick out like the ‘unfit Brit’.
All in all I’d say things are going pretty swimmingly; probably more so than I ever expected. The students and teachers at school are all so welcoming, and as soon as I got a place in the staff room to put my stuff, I felt like I belonged. Aside from that, I mean, look where I get to live! Back in the grünes Herz Österreichs, nestled in the city surrounded by mountains and green and all things austrian thus wonderful.
Life is good.