Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Being a new teacher and trying to do the RIGHT thing.

So....I've started teaching again which is absolutely wonderful. I thoroughly enjoy teaching and I'm much better at it than I was at fruit picking AND as I love people I am so happy to have that regular interaction and also the ability to share something that I know about - the English language. I've had a few days at the school covering and they were great - one day was less great but the rest of my cover days were superb - left me feeling amazing and for that I felt they were successful days. Yesterday was test day and again - successful day! The students did their preparation before the test and then did the test, marked the test and mission success! TODAY was for me an unsuccessful day as a teacher in my books and I came home feeling pretty bummed. SO many things that could go wrong in a classroom did and my reactions were not always as good as I would have liked them to be because I was trying soooooooooo hard to do a good job and follow the rules and I started teaching the lesson and not the learners. I failed today and I don't really like failing or feeling like I've failed. I don't think anyone does so it's not as if I have discovered a new emotion - but the overwhelmingness of the emotion caught me by surprise.

The day started alright - some error correction - some eliciting of vocabulary related to where people live - some ranking and then please open your books - and BAM everything went downhill from there. The moment you open the books some people really exploit the speaking exercises and enjoy the process - and then others say two words to one another and then complete all the rest of the exercises in the book because the quest to finish everything is more important that speaking and using the language and then my detailed plan on how I was going to transition on the next exercise is lost because 1/3 of the class have already done the exercise and are sitting there wanting to use their phone and all that I have to say is useless because alas the task is completed and thus why would they need to listen! ( I sound jaded but I'm purely speaking from my emotional point of view so excuse the slight irrationality of my thoughts). So then I was juggling some people who were firing though the exercises as exercises cause they've done it before...others learning it for the first time....others focusing on the talking and following instructions to a T. Then some expressed how BORING the subject was - others expressed how HARD the subject was and others just had their phone. THEN....one of my most diligent students started crying and then my most arrogant student became more arrogant and then I spent time trying to convince him that if he doesn't know something rather than saying yes I know it he should ask and I would do my best to assist him. Then I blew my fuze cause people were using their phones then I set a speaking task and they wanted to go outside and the half of the class that couldn't be bothered BEGGED me to let them go and do the speaking task outside. And I acquiesced and then they stayed out for 30 minutes (which was a relief cause I could pay attention to the other half that were in the class) and then they returned and it was obvious that they had done nothing out there but relax in the sun - which wasn't so bad but they LIED and told me they had been doing something but they hadn't been. Oh.....and then the class ended and I felt like a failure got home and CRIED like a baby!

Tomorrow is a new day and I'm sure it'll be better but for now wah wah wee wah is my feeling. I have over the period of writing this drank a glass of wine and have to admit I'm feeling better. I think when I taught at EF I was so used to the system of trying to move away from the book and teach the point then come back to the book and solidify what you have taught whereas now I'm trying to accomplish all the tasks in the book and also add extra stuff to jazz up the lesson. I'm also doing my best to teach all the points in the one session because I'm not the sole teacher of the group and don't yet feel the freedom to organise my week according to the whole picture but am focusing on the small blocks that need to be achieved in a day.

I still love teaching and I'm looking forward to going in tomorrow and consolidating what I feel was a mess.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Cleansing Rain

It's raining outside and has been intermittently doing so for the last 24 hours. The clouds dominate the sky, the shades of green on the trees are dampened, the floors are soggy and the air is fresh. I really like the atmosphere that rain brings with it and am particularly enjoying this release of water because we emptied the water tank and I was feeling awfully guilty about the long hot showers I've been enjoying this past month. I like knowing that the tank water is being replenished, the plants are being given some liquid loving and I feel a great sense of calm and relief.

I worked this morning in the pouring rain - I didn't want to use the raincoats provided because they make me hot and sweaty and less flexible when bending so I got REALLY wet. I started the day feeling a bit down - I thought it was just one of those days that one ought to just stay in bed and not offend the world with one's presence. It was a carry over from yesterday because I had my first day of relief teaching. I was SOOOO excited about getting to teach - I had spent two weeks looking forward to the day, I spent almost two hours putting together a riveting lesson, was super anxious the night before - woke up a few times thinking my alarm wouldn't go off at the right time, got to the school super early and had the classroom all set up and pumped with good vibrations. I was oozing positivity and begging for the acceptance of the group with my public charm turned onto a thousand. I had a good lesson (nothing spectacular but also I hope not boring) with some lovely students (6 different nationalities - Japan, Korea, France, Spain, Swiss, Saudi Arabia rep-representing) and then ...then... it ... was ... over! All the anticipation and built up feelings about FINALLY doing a day in the classroom and being a teacher and sharing time and space with students and then it ended and I felt like a deflated hot air balloon. I knew that the one day with the students was the end - I'd have to wait until the beginning of July to get the chance again.

I experienced an anti climax times one million and so I got home and like an empty zombie-ex-teacher just went with the empty flow of life that was presented. I ate, slept, woke, went to the farm, started picking and then...RAIN! Beautiful cleansing delicious rain came down and wet my clothes and wet my hat and wet my gloves and wet my hair and wet my skin and this amazing rain wet my already dampened mood and all of sudden I felt magnificent. I felt like the the rain had filled me up again, gave me a boost of energy and instead of a hot air balloon I became a well - full of glorious wet rain water. But it didn't stop there oh no! The clouds had a beautiful surprise in store for me.

I was bone chilled upon returning home and knowing that the tank was filling up I savoured my HOT warming shower, had a replenishing nap and woke up on the right side of the bed feeling like a million hot air balloons ready for action - a fleet ready for the journey to a new land filled with all the artisans, artists, farmers, nurses, doctor and teachers! And the rain continued to pitter patter outside and I got an email asking me to teach two days next week again!

A good day it has been thanks to the rain! The cleansing and generous rain.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A lot of Passion (fruit) in my Life!

Long distances between writing and in my mind I have had many a time that I wanted to write but to actually go the distance hasn't been my forte. I have moved back to Australia after having lived away for 10 years. I packed  up my life of four years in Cape Town and have now been here for 3 months. Here is the Sunshine Coast Hinterland where rather than the sound of traffic, the sound of Kookaburras tickles my ears. There are also some whip birds that whip my ears into action when ever they cry their cry to action. Trees are all around the house so my eyes are ever satisfied to see my favourite shades of green so often.

Life is a bit slower here than in The Mother City - things are a lot calmer too. My mind is calmer and I've had more opportunity to lose myself in books books beautiful books. I've fallen in love with Tom Robins and have re-established my deep relationship with Haruki Marukami. Tom takes me to a wild tangled head of hair filled with word-play and wildness. Haruki-San just wraps me up in his arms and transports me to a liminal dream state where upon the ordinary becomes extraordinary. He is gifted! I was unemployed for a while so reading really helped me give me a sense of purpose in this purpose driven world. I was struggling initially because I felt as if I no longer had any use - I felt as if being in the classroom at EF and on the stage with Bonfire was my one and only calling and to be unemployed doing nothing but swimming and playing tennis was the lowest I could fall on the meaning of life. It was but a short period of nothingness - eventually I realised this was a grand opportunity to enjoy my abundance of free time and I dove in with all enthusiasm and started doing things I love - like reading.

I now have a job! I am a Farm Labourer according to my superannuation form and my field of expertise is Agriculture more specifically Picking Passionfruit. I toyed with planting garlic for a couple of days which was the beginning of my Agricultural labouring - I couldn't walk properly for a week cause about a million new muscles had been brought to life no longer dormant they cried and cried like a new born baby shocked at the disaster that life outside the womb is. They made toilet sitting a chore and to have to pick something off the ground was a real faux pas in my physical vocabulary. Then I was poor and needed more of a purpose than reading Dance Dance Dance and the opportunity arose - To Pick Passion Fruit or NOT to Pick Passion Fruit. Arnold and I debated the pros and cons of having an income again and agreed the answer was to inject some Passion Fruit into our daily existence.

Every morning at 5.15am the alarm sings a sweat harmony luring me into the tangible world. The kookaburras and whip  bird then like a Greek Chorus support the lead Phone and I like a victim of fate rise to the call of adventure. Firstly though breakfast of champions then twenty minutes of Triple J listening to my frien Matt Okine making the world a funnier place. Gloves on, Hat balanced on my head the journey up and down the rows of Passion fruit then becomes my world for 3-5 hours. We are usually 5 - 7 pickers all armed with a bucket and lust for adventure. Up and down the rows we go bending down to save the fallen fruit from the sun which will shrivel it up into a passion prune. We fill the buckets up with which we use to then fill the crates which then get sent to shed which then get sorted and packed - the pretty fruit go to the stores where they're sold to customers wanting a bit of passion in their lives - the less attractive ones which might have had a touch of sun or just blemished from lack of nutrients get sent to the Juice Factory where they make sweet sweet passion punch! I have officially been a picker for 3 weeks. There are pros and cons as with everything in life! Pros being that my bank has become useful for storing the money that I make and I can buy coffee without crying that life was so much cheaper in Cape Town. Pros being that I can squat for 5 hours and not be as damaged as I was when I did two day of garlic planting. Pros being that when it's bed time my head hits the pillow and boy is sleep heavenly! More pros - I'm stronger, the nature is so beautiful, I appreciate food pickers more, I have time to job hunt for the rest of the day, I can eat at least two passion fruit a day, I'm picking with Arnold, I'm going to learn to drive, I'm getting really far in Candy Crush. Cons - it's HARD WORK!!!!!! My body is sore every day, my joints ache, my back aches, my shoulders ache, my fingernails are dry and brittle, I wear the same outfit every morning, we pick even when it rains, the fruit look like eggs and I feel like I'm on an eternal easter egg hunt, I'm not the fastest and sometimes get competitive even though its unnecessary,  I smell like hay, I'm buggered for the rest of the day. I'll be picking until July as thats when I have my first teaching job coming in - I'm told the cons get easier and the pros can only get better and better.

Having this time has offered me reflection time too - My time at EF was like no other I'd ever had and I'm sure it impacted my being on multiple levels. I had the opportunity to meet so many incredible humans with whom I had the honour of learning from and assisting them in developing their English. I was constantly inspired by the students both in and out of class and I know that I can walk the Earth knowing that there are a lot of really beautiful souls out there. I've taught students from all over the world and from different backgrounds religiously, culturally and of course physically. I always boasted that I no longer needed to go and see the world because the world came to me in my classroom - and I attest that that was such a gift. I was daily able to expand my world view by just walking 7 minutes from my home to the classroom and BAM - expansion! I was of course teaching the creme de la creme of society but non the less there were some good folk. And the team I worked with was pretty cool too!

Cape Town is a really stunning city in terms of the nature - one can never tire of gazing at the mountain in all of her glory - the shifting clouds, the range in colours depending on the time of the day, the constant presence that she emits on the city is inescapable. And from the top of the mountain one is mesmerised by the endless views that span out each way. After that climb to be able to rest your eyes and savour the view is tatilizing gift she graces you with. The beaches are gorgeous, the water is cold, the forests are accessible and there's always something beautiful to see. Always a place to watch the sunset or if you're up for it the sunrise. Then there's the buzzling city - long street and it's craziness/dirtiness, kloof street and its hipsters, Observatory and its avant garde international crowd, Camps Bay and its pompousness yet charm, Bo Kaap and its colourful culture, De Waterkant and its oh so fabulousness, Sea Point and it's promenade where Arnold and I ran many a fine 10km journeys - the wonders are endless. 

Things I miss are the energy, the diversity and the school. The energy in the city is something different to anywhere in Australia or the parts of Europe I have traveled...there is something always cooking - something always sizzling - someone always plotting and planning the next heist or party! There's an aliveness in Cape Town that keeps the blood flowing - there's art, music, theatre, fetivals, movies, cafes, restaurants, bars, dancing, romancing, prancing and just good old vibrant energy. The diversity is also something that dispite being confronting at times is something that makes Cape Town special - there are the Dirty Rich and the Dirt Poor. There are all religions represented, there are 500 shades of brown skinned people and then 500 shades of white. There are open minded, eccentric, trance party goers and then conservative, calorie counting cyclists who bant and paleo daily. There are Jah Rastafaris living on the Mountain and picking the herbs of health from the earth our mother and there are scavenging drunk bergies beating up bins (thanks for that story Nicole). There are those who can't wait to get out and those who will stay forever and those who would give an arm to stay and soak up the sun for just a little bit longer! Diversity in Cape Town is endless - and it's captivating! And the school - because it was my cultural hub.

I changed in Cape Town - I became stronger and more independent. I got my heart broken a few times but then I fell in love with Arnold whom I hope to grow old with. I had some really lonely moments but there were more times where I felt like the luckiest human on earth - to be surrounded by so many phenomenal humans with just joy and lust for living. I got robbed and had my home completely cleared out - all my important material objects gone with no goodbye - And yet not once did I encounter danger and I learnt first hand that material objects don't make me happy - love, laughter and friendship are far superior. I danced, danced and danced a little bit more which is one of my loves. I got drunk and embarrassed myself but learnt that forgiveness and growth from errors are far more important than carrying shame. I had quarrels with loved ones that at the time I felt were irreversable but again I learnt that time does heal and to get on with life is far more fun than dwelling on the negative aspects that cannot be changed. I got to know my family better and that was the plan - I now have a relationship with members that were distant family before.

And now I'm here in Aus! Life is good. Until next time!!!