Before starting my Practicum III on Monday, I read a chapter called Aula (Classroom) from Joan Todó’s A butxacades (Pocketfully would be an accurate translation of the title): a handful of narrative essays involving memory, arts, the economic crisis, etc. Of course, Aula talks about school-education.
This chapter follows a week in the life of a common female school-teacher who lives and works in a very small town, where everyone knows everybody: who they are, and what they do. Todó tries to make us empathize with the daily feelings of the teacher, a hard-working and stressed young woman who tries to teach every day with a smile. This proves to be quite difficult for her as her pupils do not behave properly, the budget is affecting the school and forcing her to work non-properly, and gossip about her effectiveness as a docent spreads over the town.
Nevertheless, she wakes up again every morning with the decision of teaching her children, no matter what.
In fact, Joan Todó reflects perfectly how a teacher feels – so helpless, with so much frustration, incapable of teaching as one wishes to do. These are the same feelings one has when reading it of course, especially in the gossip scene at the super-market, when a couple of mothers criticize her for having punished their “good boys”… “How can she? Is not it enough to work every day from nine to five and have three months off?”
The first rule as a teacher is to know for sure that you won’t ever be admired enough for your work. This is something we as students have been remembered every day since we started our degree four years ago. Parents rarely will thank you for your hard work, their minds closed and you being referred as a kind of baby-sitter who happens to teach how to read. A newcomer teacher will lose the anxiousness and thrilling of teaching since month one…
On the other hand, it doesn’t really matter. Vocation is well-feed as long as your esteem remains positive, feeling comforted when realizing a pupil has learned, you have solved a problem, or made your class live a life-changing lesson or experience. You are the only one who has to tell yourself ‘YOU ARE DOING VERY WELL!!!’, never expecting people who will never understand to say it to you. And, you must know, they will, sometimes – and it will be great… but not as great as watching your kids learn, grow and smile (their own way to thank you).
So, as bad as it may feel Joan Todó’s Aula when first read it, you have to take the teacher from the story as a reference. Wake up every morning no matter what and prove yourself you can change the world.