By Parson Thru
I walked across Plaza de Manuel Becerra tonight on the way back from the kebab restaurant. I was struck by the great open space between the curvature of the buildings, the warm dark sky above the trees and the bustle of people among the cafes and bars. The whole scene was designed for heat.
Twenty-four hours ago, I had been typing myself to a standstill in a stranger’s living room, surrounded by a confusion of papers while my hostess entertained at the dinner-table. By one a.m. I felt myself coming close to the limit of nervous energy. The guests had gone home.
I woke around six thirty with my head filled with the changes I needed to make to my second written assignment and, more importantly, to the plan for my first upper intermediate class. I was nervous about exposing my novice teaching to these strangers, who probably know more grammar than I ever will. The blood was beating in my ears like a temperance drum. My head ached with its burden and I wondered how much more of this my body could take. My nerves were on the point of collapse. I decided to let go and cried into the pillow for a while, consciously keeping the noise down, so that I wouldn’t be heard by others in the apartment.
My thoughts drifted automatically to the assignment and the lesson I had to teach at 11:30. In the darkness, I felt some of the tension ease.
The lesson turned out to be fine. Preparation is everything and my new students were lovely. After only seven lessons, I’ve realised that this whole thing is about the students. When I lose that, it will be time to stop teaching. I’ve only just entered week three of four and some of the actions that will make me a teacher are automatic – a surprise to me and a testament to the quality of my trainers.
This week I experienced the wrench of seeing a class move on – surprised at how quickly the bond forms. Quietly, almost unnoticed, the bond between our small group of trainees has also built itself.
We had our second Friday course drinks outside a cheap student bar on Principe de Vergara. My seat seemed dangerously close to Madrid’s blue-liveried buses at times, but the beer and the craic under an azul September sky took the edge off life’s precariousness. The general situation allowed to me to reflect that, despite being pushed about as hard as I’ve ever been, I’m somewhere close to what I was looking for when I launched this great upheaval.
All I need now is my love somewhere close by and a whole weekend to sleep. I know that the latter is a distant dream.