Since becoming Director of Studies in October 2013, there have been so many fun, hilarious, crazy, incredibly satisfying and unforgettable moments. Although I deliver the same course every month, the different individuals who walk through our door on day 1 of every course ensure that no two courses ever feel identical. After almost 18 months in the role, today I will be looking back at some of my most memorable experiences here at TtMadrid.
Here at TtMadrid we are strong believers that solid planning will always stand you in very good stead. However, some of my most memorable moments are those that remind me that just sometimes, things happen that are completely out of our control. I recall one Monday morning when, on monitoring my trainees in the classroom, my trousers ripped! I fortunately had my team on hand to help tape the gaping tear until I could get home for a new pair (something they frequently remind me of!!) I also remember a model class I gave on directions when I accidently forgot to print pages two and three of my lesson plan and only realised once my class had started. Although I may have looked very calm and collected on the outside, it was a different story on the inside with 18 trainees watching me! Other examples include an exciting round of Who wants to be a Grammilionaire and my smartboard dramatically blowing up on question number 9! I was suddenly left with no questions, no music and just my memory to rely on to invent a tenth and final question on the spot! It is without doubt these unexpected moments in the classroom that prove that hiccups are all part of being human. The ability to adapt and continue (whether that be with silver gaffer tape covering up the hole in your trousers or not) is the true essence of teaching successfully.
One of my most memorable trainees ever completed the course during my second month as Director of Studies at TtMadrid (for the sake of this piece I will call her Jess.) Jess was originally from Malaysia and informed me on Day 2 of the course that her formal education had been a far cry from anything we encourage here at TtMadrid. In Malaysia students learn from lecture based classes in enormous groups, where the teacher only ever approaches you if you have done something wrong. For Jess the idea of asking her students questions to engage them, getting close to monitor them and building rapport through praise and smiling was completely alien to her. However, the way in which she embraced a new methodology is something I will never forget. She blossomed over her six teaching practices achieving an outstanding grade in her final class. Giving her feedback actually made me very emotional. I had never met anyway who embraced something so massively different with such heart.
Without doubt, one of the most rewarding aspects of my job as DOS are those goose-bump moments that are experienced during teaching practices. Since my arrival at TtMadrid in 2012, there have been many of them. I have seen science experiments to teach the zero conditional, chocolate decorating to teach cooking vocabulary, speed dating for question structure, creating pop songs to practice rhyming words and an amazingly staged picnic to allow real life use of countable and uncountable nouns. Seeing how much progress is made from class 1 to class 6 is so rewarding and gives me immense satisfaction in knowing that myself and the rest of the TtMadrid team are doing such a great job in shaping some amazing teachers.
This blog post wouldn´t be complete without mentioning the amazing team of people that I work with. I feel blessed to work with such a multicultural group of people and many of my most memorable moments involve the happy, funny and sometimes crazy moments that we have experienced together. Our infamous lunch club (when one person prepares lunch for everyone) has provided many memorable moments. I recall a funky hand-soap flavoured soup (made by my fine self!) which was completely inedible. There were also curdled home-made yoghurts and curry rice that could have been used as cement between bricks! Thank God our teaching skills are better than our culinary ones! I will also never forget the day after our very first Thanksgiving dinner together. Who knew turkey was so coma inducing! That Friday possibly felt like the longest day in the history of our working life thanks to the ridiculous amounts of turkey we had eaten the evening before! (Funnily enough, on seeing how unproductive we all were that day, our Thanksgiving celebration is now always on a Friday evening so we can sleep it off on the Saturday!) Another prominent memory is the ridiculous number of times we have rearranged our office. I think we have had our desks in every formation possible to continue to give space to our ever expanding team. It is incredible to think that our office that originally fitted 4 is now home to 13 of us! (and you can imagine how much fun Steve has being surrounded by 12 women!!)
I think it is fair to say that my job is absolutely unique and I think I would be hard pushed to find anything quite like this again. Fast-paced, a lot of fun and immensely rewarding – no two days are ever the same and I love that! I look forward to seeing what new people I meet and what new memories are made over the coming months! J