My new job: the first month

My new job is not so new anymore. The first month has flown by for so many reasons. It took some time to get started late August, but all of September I spent teaching, preparing lessons and answering emails. I have found plenty of things that work better here, but am also definitely missing a few things from my old job. This is the last time I will consciously reflect on how things are going, as by now the newness of my job is starting the wear off and I will soon have less inspiration to write about it. After all, a job’s a job.

Teaching here is a delight. Since I am now teaching students who want to become what I have been doing for over 5 years, it just bridges a bunch of gaps. Also, the type of people setting out to become teachers or interested in language are very different from people interested in management and economics. Not in the first place because their base level of English is much better and they actually get references and jokes you make. I am teaching a mixture of different individuals from part time, to full time and international students. That makes for some variety in teaching even while I’m teaching the same subject.

But the students aren’t the only ones that make teaching so much better this time round. I haven’t taught a single grammar rule since I got here. Now, I love grammar, but there is so much more to English than grammar. The fact that I am now teaching English Skills from the perspective ‘how can I improve it’  as well as Linguistics (which is slowly becoming my pet project) is just so much more fulfilling. I now get to teach those subjects that I feel passionate about and that makes such a big difference. It was also the main reason to apply to this job in particular so I couldn’t be happier.

Naturally there are also a few bumps in the road. The Linguistics course I’m teaching is in desperate need of an update and improvement. So I have been adding and changing things as I go along, but that course needs to be given a long hard and critical look. On top of that, communication is something nobody really excels in here. I have sent several emails that have been left unreplied by more than one individual and it can be difficult to find the person responsible for something.

Also, there is no digital learning environment, which takes some getting used to after having used one for 3 years. There is something there, but it’s just a data bank with a bunch of old files floating around. It is difficult to search (there is NO search option) and you have to upload everything per class you teach. It is needlessly tedious and when I forget to upload the files, my students won’t know what to do. Very frustrating.

I have also found out that I will have to print and copy my own exams and may even have to invigilate some resits in the future. Not looking forward to that, as at my other job these things were organized much more easily. In addition, there are two weeks for conducting exams and only one is used, leaving resits to be done in the middle of the next term. Not very handy in my book as well, but hey that’s something I will simply have to deal with.

Some things that are definitely better here is the fact that there are digital facilities in each classroom: computer, smartboard and projectors. So far they have all worked just fine. I also have a laptop to use as my desk computer. I prefer this over a regular desktop and it’s 5000x faster than the work computers at my old job. The coffee machine has hot chocolate (win!), the building is super new & modern (I open doors with a chip card), and the elevators are a breeze.

In hindsee my timetable isn’t too bad afterall. Especially since I am at liberty to change my schedule if I have to. If I want to start 30 minutes later than that’s no problem and also quitting much earlier than your required lesson time is something you can be flexible with. I have plenty of time to prepare classes and I have plenty of freedom to change materials to fit my teaching style. Not that I didn’t have these things at my previous job, but I know that there are plenty of places where you aren’t given all that much freedom.

On the whole my first month has been a very positive experience. Apart from my bout of nearly getting seriously sick last week, I have been doing swell. I spend less time traveling and that certainly makes a big difference as well. Plus the fact that I now work in Amsterdam is also really cool. This job is such a big step ahead for me and I’m loving every minute.

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