I mentioned that I had handed in my notice at the Academy and that from the end of June, my often joyous, sometimes fraught, teaching days will be at an end for the time being.
These sort of decisions are never made lightly. I have written about my English teaching many times, though I don't know that I have ever mentioned the strange coincidence that found me teaching there in the first place. When I first arrived in Alcala la Real, I spent some time teaching in the English Centre here that has now closed. Towards the middle of March 2010 - we arrived in January - a lady came in looking for a native English speaker. As no one in the centre spoke Spanish, she was directed towards me, where I understood that she urgently needed someone to take over the oral classes in her Academy as the usual teacher had been taken ill. As I was in the middle of teaching, I said I would come and talk to her at the Academy the next morning - thinking (no false modesty here) that she had come specifically to talk to ME!
I continued in this thought for some time after taking on the job until Maria, the owner of the Academy, and I had more time to chat when I discovered that she came to the English centre to ask for help in finding someone - not expecting me to have my sleeves rolled up and teaching within 48 hours. She also told me later that her daughter had been very shocked that she'd taken me on without asking to see my TESOL teaching certificate or any formal qualifications that I held. She still hasn't seen them but when I dug them out recently, I was rather pleased to discover that I had passed my Teaching English as a Foreign Language certificate with a distinction. Maria has always said that she took to me instinctively and as her other teacher never came back, we both feel that serendipity brought us together.
I have so enjoyed the last year where I've taken on more actual teaching, rather than just a 'chatty' class. At Level One - the first year - I have taken their full 2 and a half hour's lessons during the week and also have more time with the more advanced classes. My level 1 students have been so responsive and quick to learn and we've had a lot of fun as well as managing to complete a very demanding text book. They've taken everything on board and I the other day, I heard the youngest of the group go to another girl and ask, without my involvement, if she could borrow a rubber please - in perfect English.
When we found our house here in Villalobos, I thought that living so close to town I wouldn't have any problems in continuing work. A twelve minute car journey as opposed to an eight minute walk didn't seem likely to cause any problems.
However, the reality is a bit different. I find I have to leave the house just 10 minutes after Mateo arrives home and some days, the logistics of the five of us having slightly different plans and arrangements in town at not quite overlapping times, has made it very awkward to schedule and manage. I am missing the hours at home with the children now we have our own space and garden to enjoy together. Often, by the time I get home, I am quite tired and have only an hour or so before it's time to start thinking about supper and bed. There have been some days where I've had to leave the three of them at home on their own because FR is in Granada and that also makes me very uncomfortable in some ways - although we always have a backup plan in the event of need. And sometimes, Ruy and Romy have come with me to the Academy before going off to either swimming or tennis. This has been quite good in the summer months but wouldn't be ideal in winter when the nights are dark or the weather bad.
The worst thing - which is also the best thing - is that FR has finally got his play off the ground and out into schools. A couple of weeks ago, his group went to perform at a school in Monachil, in Granada, which he followed up the next day with a workshop. In his own words, it was everything he had dreamed of from the outset - and it can't really get better than that. In the new term, I expect he will be visiting many more schools which means he won't be home with the children or available to take them to their various classes and practices whilst I am teaching.
So, for practical purposes, though not necessarily financially responsible ones, we are going to try and manage without my teaching income - it wasn't much but it was better than nothing - in order for me to be at home for the children. I think it's the right decision but I do find myself wishing I could have the best of both worlds and keep my favourite classes and do a few less hours - but that's not an option. At first, I don't think Maria really believed I was going but we have found an excellent replacement - again by pure chance - so she's coming round to the idea and she knows that she can always call on me if there's a need to.
All I need to do now is tell the students. Without a tear in my eye...
It's so hard giving up the things we love but it's so much easier when I know I can spend more time with my children in our lovely home. I think it's best all round.