July will soon be over, but there’s still another month of holidays ahead of me (precisely 24 days). Although I’m currently keeping my mind busy reading and writing, I’m pretty much in a relaxed mode. Still, I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night to discover that I’m thinking about school. That would be fine if I reminisced and reflected; except that I worry about the future, not the past.
I’m not implying that my job is at stake or something that gloomy. The thing is that every September brings changes and, inevitably, some innovations are to the good while other reforms are less pleasing. Also, the transition from the relaxed mode into the working mood is usually drastic. It’s nothing near gradual; it’s like jumping into an ice bath after you’ve spent some time in a warm whirlpool. So whenever I think of the freezing water awaiting me, my warm whirlpool immediately becomes much less comfortable.
Here are a couple of things that I’m currently worrying about:
1) Seen from a perspective of the head of the English department:
- Early in October, my colleague and I are travelling to London for a week. We’re taking 20 students but at the moment we still don’t have all the information concerning the trip which is part of an EU-funded project.
- In the same month, a huge event is awaiting the English department – a competition in English conversation. Schools from different parts of the Czech Republic nominate their ‘best English speakers’ and send them to our school to beat the rivals. We used to do a project part of the competition too, where teams of students made big paper projects on a given topic, but that was simply too much to handle with the staff resources shrinking every year so we’ve dropped this for the time being.
- At the end of October, there’ll be a huge Halloween event we organise each year for local primary schools, but that’s already been running at our school for long so I’m not too worried about that.
2) Seen from a perspective of a homeroom teacher:
- I’ll have two new students in my class, who I’ve never seen and don’t know much about. One of them is a boy from Hong Kong who speaks no Czech. The other one is a girl who lived in Germany. She speaks Czech but will probably have to work hard in Czech lessons to catch up.
- On September 21, five students from my class are taking part in a one-day shooting for the national TV. It’s an educational programme for kids and it should be fun, but somehow I can’t shed the feeling of responsibility. Also, I’ll have to arrange a couple of things before that.
3) Seen from a perspective of an English teacher:
There are three classes I’ll be teaching next academic year that make me feel slightly anxious.
- One of them is a relatively large class of 23 senior students. I already taught the same class last year and it was a challenge even though they were smaller by one student back then. Such a big class gets quite noisy during speaking activities and correcting their written work is not child’s play either. The fact that next year is their graduation year, i.e they’ll be seriously preparing for their final exams, inevitably changes my perspective.
- The other class is a class of senior students as well, but I’m not going to prepare them for their final exam directly. Although I’ll be one of the assessors, it’s my colleague who’s going to do the dirty work throughout the year. The trouble is that it is a notorious class with a long record of minor violations of the school rules (I’ll have to keep reminding myself of the presumption of innocence rule). Moreover, we’re going to use an upper-intermediate coursebook, which is always a problem with a class (or a majority of it) that is far from upper-intermediate.
- The last but not least is the opposite of scenario number 1. Last year I grappled with another class of 23 students (14-year-olds). Although it was hard, we finally found strategies to make learning possible. In September, since two students are joining us, the class will be split into two groups again. Thus, most of the methods I used last year won’t work anymore. We’ll have to get used to new approaches again. I sometimes feel like on a rollercoaster.
To conclude and amplify my worries, I’ll add that late in September, our school is celebrating the 80th anniversary of its founding. There will be a lot to do before and around September 25. Although I’m not directly in charge of the organisation, I kind of dread the magnitude of the event. It’ll probably be plain crazy! Keep your fingers crossed for my sanity.