Working in a Summer School happened to me through a random job application, whilst unhappy with my job in Spain. I applied; I left it and I didn’t think anything of it, but what I didn’t realise was that the 8 weeks I do every year would serve as the best teaching environment and experience I would have as a teacher, despite being in Spain for 3 years.
Not only was I being paid over the summer, which for many teachers is a dream, I got to do so in the city I went to University and where most of my formative years occurred. I could choose either 15 hr weeks or 30 hr weeks and I had a say in what levels I was interested in teaching, so as to help with my career development, something the school takes seriously, and although only an 8 week contract, I honestly felt a better teacher for it and that my skills had actually developed. I learnt a lot of new activities to use in the classroom and I actually got to use my CELTA knowledge.
To give a better idea of my experience and hopefully many others, here is what I did on a typical day in a typical 30hr week:
I didn’t think I would like getting up at 7am and having to be in work by 8 30am, but compared to many people, I actually got to walk to a job I liked, at a reasonable time of day, despite the cold and rain getting in my way (English Summer).
8 30am to 8 45am consisted of a meeting in the staff-room which, given the lack of communication I have experienced in Spain, was welcoming. The senior teachers were always available to speak to and help was always at hand. Last minute photocopying took place and register finding then it was off to class for 3 hours.
8 45am to 12 15pm- The day was broken down into 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon with a 15 minute break between each lesson. It was not a continuous cycle of class after class, as I have experienced in previous jobs, it was steady and kept the students going. The materials available were always a guide to what you could do and you had the freedom to use your own materials if you wished, which worked for me as I always want to try and bring to life the subject matter with fun interactive activities.
12 15pm to 2pm was lunch, with some questionable canteen food, but it was free so I couldn’t really complain. There was always time before the afternoon classes for some quiet time and some time to gather resources and cut things out and once I got to know the system things got easier and easier.
2pm to 5 30pm- The last leg of the day was always difficult: the students slowing down and I was slowing down too, but the system that was in place meant that you would be teaching the same levels all day so you could repeat the morning lessons in the afternoon and hopefully do them better. In a flash the day was over, you could leave and the rest of the time was yours.
This is a very simple break down of a typical day as some days we would have a paid inset, between 1pm and 2pm, to help us with topics that we as teachers had chosen and every Monday you would be testing new students and inducting them, so they knew the facilities and where to go for class.
No day was ever boring and there was always an interesting teaching point you could improve upon, especially, as all the classes were multilingual, with one class alone representing half the world, bringing with it a range of challenges that I relished after 3 years of ‘QUE?’ being heckled at me from every corner of the classroom.
This is just one experience of a summer school in England and I am not naive enough to think that everyone’s is the same nor that anything in teaching is ever perfect. I have known many friends who have found themselves doing excursion trips on Saturdays and Sundays around England and getting no free time for themselves. In England as in Spain there are good and bad schools but I feel in England there is a little more professionalism and safety for teachers and a thousand per cent more transparency.
A final note that I must pride my summer school on is their diversity. After battling day in day out with the relic fanatics of native speakerism, in Spain; I found it refreshing to see, that in many schools in England, non natives are given a chance as well as newly qualified EFL teachers. This diversity helps to bring together teaching ideas from all round the world and opens everyone’s minds whilst helping you to build connections and contacts for future endeavors and hopefully some friends in the process.
Given my previous slammings of the system in Spain, finally, I can write a positive post on a teaching experience I have had. I haven’t been screwed over, I haven’t been worked like a dog or underpaid/ late paid or shouted out: I have simply taught and been allowed to do my job, to the best of my ability, with support and in a system that, quite frankly, should be the rule and not the exception. Don’t put off applying for a position in England at a Summer school next year; it may add many strings to your teaching bow.
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