Monday, October 25, 2010

Watershed 盛筵必散

The day passed, but I was only tired. The banquet finished, and all the people departed. I am no longer a teacher at my old centre, but from today a senior teacher in a new school. Emotionally, there is little feeling of loss yet. I was smiling whenever I told my students, often upset, about my imminent departure. Platitudes flowed and downcast faces were the gauntlet I walked, out the door and onto sidewalk. Will I miss them when I'm greeted without that adoration nor the same veneration in my new school?

The teacher-student bond is a special one; but only when you realise that a teacher is not a mere instructor. A teacher packages learning into every interaction: both academic and beyond. An instructor follows a plan and delivers "lessons". And I think I'm increasingly more able to be a teacher, but only perhaps because I can teach and model how one should be a student. Being a student is not a passive or receptive role, and to see it as any other is a mistake. To see being a teacher as being a solid agent of change is a mistake too: every case is unique and requires you to adapt to the new condition; the human condition is not one that can be taught with any one approach. And that the most important teaching often doesn't happen in the classroom, but rather when sitting down with the student to go deeper into their specific needs and issues.

As I exited I had a few slips of paper to give my contact to a few, a very few. Vic didn't, though he wanted to keep touch – I might contact him indirectly and I know that I can. Oscar wanted it, but I thought I'd give it to her later. Emil got it; he was a Filipino, a very serious student of high level and though sullen, possibly recently divorced, was most emotional when learning English. Rainbow would have given a kidney for it, seriously, and even said that I was the best teacher she'd ever had, seriously apparently ; but didn't get it. Tea got it but you could get more sincere than Tea. I found numerous ways to avoid giving any contact details to the highly emotional Ling; she'd be too much. Question Kevin got it despite being a nuisance at the best of times; he got it on virtue of his sheer desire to learn. And so for some it may be the last time they see me while others, virtue of my reasons or my whim, may keep contact.

And if I go back just over ten days, I can remember the question: "Would you like to end here on the 24th?" I answered in the affirmative, and realised later that would mean about 10 days before I leave, only 8 days of which were in the office, three of which were dominated by mentoring three teachers, one of which was swallowed by meetings; another was taken up with a referral event, and what was left were a load of lessons and a lot of garden-variety tiredness. At least my desk is clear.

Tomorrow though I will enter the door at my new centre, make myself a cup of coffee as a senior teacher, shake some hands and get down to preparing a Travel Club lesson.


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