This week has been a week of looking within, going within and above all being happy with what I have found there! It was a week of decision making, not easy and the doubts loomed large but faded gradually into the distance as I made up my mind.
I felt my father’s presence and whilst I am not sure if I got his blessing, I certainly got my mother’s stamp of approval and her good wishes for whatever I was going to decide. It was a silly thing but also huge. It was a moment of stubbornness which transformed into determination, although those it impacted on might not see it that way… yet.
I am no longer English language assistant at my local high school. Why? Because I refused to get one form and that was the deal breaker if I was to continue. The one form was not necessary last year when I was employed on the same job. I had the equivalent form through the Spanish authorities last year and that was deemed more than sufficient for them. Had I been looking at doing a different job this year, this form might have made sense although it was a form required by the British authorities to whom I had mistakenly applied to continue in the same job. Confused? So was I until the end!!
You see, bureaucrats do things differently to sensible people. They follow orders, don’t seem to question a lack of logic and they certainly aren’t going to look upon people as individuals, oh Lordy no! If you are a bureaucrat reading this, please tell me how you treat people as individuals because your colleagues referred to me as Dear assistant when they wrote me – and no, I wasn’t their dear!
I could have forked out sixty quid and applied for the ICPC (International Child Protection Certificate) and I could have spent hours working out the addresses of where I had lived 25 years ago in the UK along with the jobs I had back in the late 80s and early 90s. I could have then spent more on translating the document into Spanish and getting an official stamp. I chose not to. Not because of the cost although what I would be earning is not a fortune! I chose not to because last year I was not required to. Last year I worked with the same young people amongst the same colleagues in the same institution and I was deemed okay to work with children by a certificate that the Spanish authorities required. I was stubborn and refused to take instructions and apply for the form when asked to by the British authorities.
Mind you, I thought I was home free when, after months of reminding me, telling me, cajoling me about the form – to which I always informed them that I would not be applying for it – they finally wrote me in September and told me where I would be working come October 1st! Home free I thought!! I returned to my local high school on October 2nd, having prepared a digital presentation for the new 1st year students and another digital summary of how I spent my summer for the returning students I had taught last year.
Whilst the first two weeks nearly killed my soul and spirit, I rallied round after hearing César Bona speak at an educational conference. He was voted Spain’s best teacher and one of 50 best teachers in the world. I was inspired by his message – make it different for the students. I went back on the Monday morning fired up and I was off. It was a great week, hard work but rewarding in a weird sort of way too.
However, by the end of the week I was told I had been withdrawn from the programme for not complying with requirements of the ICPC. Fair enough. The Spanish local education authority were going to give me a second chance and if I applied for this form, they would keep me on. I have not applied for the form.
Have I let the kids down? Yes. Have I let my colleagues down? Yes. Have I let myself down? No. It may appear to be a act of stubbornness or even pigheadedness – it certainly looked that way to me during the decision making process – but I am determined that I will do something worthwhile and not get side tracked by bureaucracy.
I am not a teacher is one thing I have learned. The teachers who are great teachers actually impart their knowledge. I entertain, I think I inspire a little bit and I generously share what I know. I hope I get kids thinking when I’m with them, but I really don’t think I have anything to teach them. I’ve been told the kids loved me and one colleague told me that “people like me are badly needed in the schools” whilst another told me “they won’t have your creativity and spontaneity and everything you transmit“. Two students told their mother “I like her classes, tell her that she won’t be able to come to your yoga classes anymore if she leaves” and “tell her she can’t go, it’s thanks to her that English is so much fun“. Those were moments when I doubted if what I was doing was the right thing and being swayed by my ego took all my strength not to back down.
On the day where I had to make my final decision, I had my last wedding of the season. It was just the couple who had eloped from Canada. I was more daring with these two than what I have normally been for a wedding and I chose not to give them the ceremony to approve prior to their big day – they agreed to this. After the ceremony, they were so delighted and the groom was so amazed with my work that when I went to leave, he placed a tip in my hand. To say I took this as a sign that I am doing the right thing is exactly what happened. To say how much I appreciate his gesture means that words are not enough. His generosity exceeded his showing me my worth with his act of kindness and for that I am truly grateful.
I made a decision at 16 years of age that I was not going to choose money over happiness and I am so glad I did so. Whilst money is our right in order to live within the constraints put out by our society, it certainly is not going to have power over my choices for the trying to be the best I can be. I am not at the school anymore but it doesn’t mean that I am not planning my next move.
Youngsters, you haven’t seen the last of me, but the classroom is not where I want it to happen – watch this space.