Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Blackboard Jungle

This is taped to our fridge :-

It may not look like much, but it feels significant. Because this is the first time that the two of us are working something that approximates a full week, and we actually needed it to keep track of when we were out and where we were.

Work is steadily coming in. Caroline is working as a teaching assistant in Mestre; whilst I seem to have become the very definition of a peripatetic teacher : business classes in Tronchetto and Marghera, and a growing number of individual lessons on the Lido.

"No job too small" has been a useful motto. From a financial point of view, it made no sense at all to travel to the Lido and back for a single 90 minute lesson. But, on the back of that, I've picked up more and more classes and reasonable money is now starting to come in.

It has to be said, I've had the easier introduction to teaching. Apart from my business classes, I teach a keen-as-mustard water taxi driver; a nice lady who works at La Fenice; and a lovely chap who runs a fine art restoration business and who wanted to spend his second lesson discussing a short story by Chekov.

Caroline, by contrast, has to deal with classes packed full of shouty, hyperactive Italian teenagers, hopped up on a deadly cocktail of caffeine, e-numbers and hormones.

I considered myself extremely fortunate to have avoided this fate until, last week, I found myself with the chance of a contract in nearby Spinea. Just a few hours a week, but, like the job on the Lido, there's always the possibility of it developing into something more substantial. Teaching middle-school children for a couple of hours on Monday and Friday afternoons.

"So, basically being a teaching assistant?", I say.
"Erm, not exactly. You see, the school day finishes at 1pm. You'll be taking after-school classes on your own".
"Hang on, you mean there's not going to be an actual teacher there at all!?"
"No, just you. But they should be fine. After all, they all want to be there because they've shown an aptitude for English. Well, apart from the ones who've been told to be there because they're lagging behind".

I gulp.

For a moment I consider saying "There seems to be some kind of misunderstanding here. I think the person you're looking for is a teacher. I'm a failed IT professional. In fact, I'm a failed IT professional who doesn't like children very much."

And then I think that "No job too small" is a good motto, but perhaps "No job too terrifying" is an even better one.

"Sounds great", I smile.


  1. "No job too terrifying". Brilliant, think of their faces rapt with attention, ready for your pearls of wisdom (in Italian), think of your family heritage and think of "Kindergarten Cop". Take stickers and running shoes, to be used in that order. And finally...God go with you.

  2. Oh, the god of Karma was watching and smiling, when Caroline scored that scary assignment. My first born would say "How character building".

    1. Yvonne, are you suggesting I did something to deserve this? :-)

  3. No, I was thinking Phil tempted fate when he smiled at your tough assignment! And, how is it going these days?

    1. Still tough. But at least the Monday classes are the toughest, so the week gets better as it goes on! Starting Saturday mornings too next week, mind, but with Liceo Classico students who will hopefully be gentler on me :-)


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