Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sun enough to brown!

It says a great deal about my determination over the past week or so that my arrival in the staff room this morning was greeted by colleagues asking where I had been on holiday.

This was not the simple politeness that you would expect after any holiday but rather a comment on my brown face.

My colleagues reasoned, perfectly fairly, that such a bronzed god-like look (I have to admit those were my words) could not have been obtained anywhere in the Barcelona region given the less than clement weather we have been having.

This is, of course, to ignore my sun orientated monomania where each time that timid star managed to insinuate a stray ray through the almost unrelenting cloud cover over Castelldefels – I was there! If a few bright electrons beamed down to earth then a prone body (mine) was spread-eagled to receive them. Whatever was there met my skin so that I am on my way towards that level of dusty obscurity which I used to boast after an out of season trip to Gran Canaria.

The truly terrible thing is that as we progress more and more surely towards days of unlimited sunshine, I will have to stand the frustration of seeing them wasted with my being indoors rather than outside soaking up the main reason that I am in Catalonia in the first place. School can be a cruel denier of pleasure!

The shock of having to start teaching by 8.15 am after the more spacious days of the holiday was a shock to the system; to say nothing of seeing all my pupils sitting in front of me expecting me to do something.

This term promises to be one replete with new experiences and will encompass my first brush with the external examinations that the pupils will have to sit. Some of their exams are held in centres outside the school and will necessitate logistical solutions which seem daunting.

No doubt I will look back on all the problems with a light heart and a ready jest by the time of the end of term. I only hope that the end of this term is a prelude to my starting a new year in the school in September.

Nothing has been said yet of my continued employment so I will have to try and contain the cold horror which sweeps over me when I realise what I should be teaching the pupils. This morning it was the conditional in all its guises, including something called the ‘Zero Conditional’ of which I had never heard.

The ‘First Conditional’ and ‘Second Conditional’ had, as mere designations entered my sphere of cognition, but the idea of teaching and explaining them to grammar savvy questioning kids had never entered the wildest nightmares of my imagination. It would have taken Goya at his blackest to have given an adequate pictorial representation to my almost overmastering panic when I was asked to explain on the board ‘The Second Conditional and Its Relationship to Unreal Possibility, Present and Future.’

It’s not something that the teaching of English Language to A Level prepares one for! Especially when bright eleven year olds are asking technical questions that most Heads of English in British Schools would be flummoxed by!

And on a technical note I have ended the last two questions with prepositions; standards are indeed falling fast! As indeed is my ability to take on board very much more grammar!

Tomorrow is the presentation of the prizes for our International Literary Competition. This is something which has a high profile in our school and is taken very seriously with the winning entries being published in a book. The competition has sections for English, Spanish and Catalan and the whole prize giving is graced with the thoughts of a writer of note. This is something to which I want to go as I have expressed interest in the competition and I have to carry through my interest and listen with intelligent appreciation to the speech of a Catalan writer. Ho hum, I’m getting quite good at that!

My “Si! Si!” approach to conversational Spanish will have to see me through another linguistic ordeal!
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