February 10th 2017
I found myself sitting in the Jardins de Murillo this morning, about 3 minutes away from my flat in the centre of Seville. I had just finished a morning run, admittedly my first real cardio workout in nearly a fortnight. I could feel my heart slowly return to a resting heartbeat. Around me were commuters and tourists and, one such group looked quite lost. As I cooled down there came a sudden sense of calmness and satisfaction I hadn’t experienced in quite a few weeks. It was the feeling of exams and reports season coming to an end.
The saying often goes to ‘work out’ your stress. Frankly, the last few weeks at work rendered that easier said than done. First came revision two weeks ago, then the oral exams. Writing exams followed immediately after, before last weekend gave me brief respite before the final set of reading and grammar. Throw in the fact I had to correct, return to normal classes, attend my Spanish lessons in the morning AND have my reports in by the end of the week, you can forgive me for not really having the desire to ‘work out’ said stress levels. ‘Just power on through it,’ became my mantra.
I was never an exam person. I was never one to get the top marks as a result of this. I always see myself as more of a continuous assessment type, and sometimes I see this same type of student in those that I now teach. I often tell my students anecdotes of how I used to watch TV the night before an exam; sure in the head it was now too late to learn anything new. I always tell those who say ‘I’m nervous’ that all will be fine and that they’d always have enough time to answer all the questions. To be honest, I can’t empathise with nervy students, because I never was one.
Returning after a lovely Christmas back home, I knew how busy the following weeks would be. First came a staff meeting, where our centre director would set out their stall, their demands and their expectations from their teachers with regards to not only the exams, but the reports. For the last week I’ve had reports (or ‘notas’ as they’re known as here) in my head. When I closed my eyes, they were there. When I finished work and tried to relax, they were there. These are the things we never thought about when we were students. We never gave one iota of thought towards our teachers and just how much they had on their plate when it came to exams.
I learnt a lot from the previous year with regards to notas. I learnt to be more organised and on the ball. I learnt to start them as early as possible, taking inspiration from a colleague who’s been doing it quite a bit longer than me. This year I started my reports as early as the 2nd week of January. Over the last three weeks I’ve put in as much time as some would cram over the weekend coming. But that’s what we do. We either work gradually over a period of time, or cram with a looming deadline. We did it in school, and now we do it as adults with our respective jobs.
I’m glad I was organised and more on the ball this time, and that first beer of the weekend will be all the more sweeter because of it.
Continue on to Part Two here.