Two hours of sleep and seven hours of plane rides and layovers later, I’m finally in Santa Fe. So far, I’ve gotten to know a few other teaching fellows in my program and found my way around the building I’ll be living in for the next eight weeks. Honestly, it’s a lot to take in, but I think studying abroad and having a few years of college under my belt has helped me adjust to being in a new place and hanging out with new people. Tonight, I had dinner with everyone at a restaurant called Bumble Bee’s. We ate huge burritos and talked about our schools, our majors, and studying abroad (the former director spent two years teaching English in Spain). Everyone is really welcoming and passionate about what they’re doing here. It’s nice having faces to put to the names I’ve been seeing online for the past month.
The returning teaching fellows tell me that this job is really rewarding. Judging from their stories and advice, I think that’s true in part because it requires so much of us. We’ve got to bring our all every day. It helps, though, that we have people to rely on. I can ask returners for help with lesson plans and look to my mentors for feedback I can trust. And it seems like teaching fellows are kind of an emotional support system for each other. They go on outings together, play games, and share each other’s stories.
I get the sense that we’re all expected to work alongside each other–there’s a hierarchy, but there’s also a mutual respect for each other’s work and ideas that I really appreciate. I have to answer to my mentor and directors, but I’m also given some freedom to make my own decisions as a teacher.
I’ve heard a few horror stories from past years. Sometimes, students can be difficult to work with or teaching fellows are difficult to live with. One thing that seems to help is keeping a sense of humor. No matter how bad these situations felt at the time, everyone was able to look back on them and laugh.
This job is cool but tough. Every day is a new experience, which also means that every day can be exhausting. On top of that, there’s a bit of pressure, because we really want to help these students succeed. If I work hard, learn quickly, and remember to keep some time for myself, I think I should be able to succeed.
The Plan for the Rest of the Week:
Tomorrow, I have to be over at the school bright and early (well, 7:15 AM) for breakfast and a group meeting. We’ll be doing a high ropes challenge as a bonding activity for all of the teaching fellows. I’m desperately afraid of heights, so climbing might be out for me, but I’m sure it’ll be fun to get to know everyone even more. The days that follow will be filled with orientation sessions and teacher training. I’ve got to wrap up preparing for my course and elective so that I can start teaching June 26th. Also, hey, maybe I’ll get a roommate sometime this week too (I was assigned one, but she’s mysteriously AWOL). I’ll keep you all posted.