In October, I suddenly had to rethink my future, when I was told my job was on the line. I did some quick thinking! And started looking on job websites. I didn't get very far; by then my RSI was getting very worrying. But one of the last things I did before I signed off sick was apply for a job. I had seen that Adult Learning Wales was looking for tutors. And I had nothing to lose! With considerable difficulty (because of my arms) I hammered out a bilingual application letter and submitted it. I received an automatic acknowledgement of receipt. And then it was silent.
Nothing happened for months. And then suddenly I got a text message. A lady from that body wondered if I was interested in teaching a course in the use of mobile phones. Mobile phones? I am a bit of a troglodyte. It is a miracle I can use my own phone. But she asked if I was interested in discussing the matter further. And that I surely was. And the discussion turned out to be part of the official application process. And why not!
I was aware I still had a busy full-time job, but I also know that that might not last. It is always useful to already have a foot in the door somewhere else. So I figured it would be a good idea to talk with them, see what possibilities were, make sure my face became familiar to them, and see what would happen.
For the interview they asked me to do five minute micro-teach. And I had done micro-teaching before, as part of both my graduate teaching assistant qualification back in the day, and my PGCertHE. So I had a think. What should I teach her? And I settled on teaching her to make a perfect tense in Dutch. It was very unlikely she would already be able to do this! And I would restrict myself to regular verbs. So I made some teaching material. If you do all that verbally it gets a bit dry. So I made cards with information on, like the structure of a regular Dutch verb, or pictograms of verbs, with their English and Welsh translations. And I made sure I know all the terms in Welsh.
When the day came I joined the Teams meeting. And I met the lady! She was nice. And he asked if I wanted to do the teaching first, and I thought "why not". So I taught her to make a Dutch perfect tense from an infinitive! It went well.
After that we had a bit of a discussion about what they were, what they taught, how they taught it, what my experiences were, what I would be comfortable teaching, et cetera et cetera. It was very interesting! She said the people registering for their courses were a blend of people with no qualifications whatsoever, highly qualified people who just want to broaden their horizons, and everything in between. The courses they taught not particularly fixed; it dependent on both supply and demand. They do not teach Welsh, but they appreciate it if their tutor can teach in Welsh, as quite a lot of the people on the courses would be Welsh speakers. And she explained what sort of support there is in the background from Adult Learning Wales. It all sounded great! It is satisfying as well to teach about palaeoclimate, but I can imagine that if you teach more basic things such as how to prepare for speaking in public, such as in a political meeting or in a job interview (which was one of the examples she gave) the results can become a lot more concrete, and a lot faster.
I also explained I was an overworked academic with RSI, but that didn't put her off at all. She said there tutor generally had other jobs as well, and that if you were too busy with other obligations they were fine with not having you teach on the other their courses for a while. So it sounded quite like this could be a match! I can just start very slowly and build up experience and a portfolio, so were my day job to come to an end for any reason, I already have something else to fall back on. And they have someone else on the books. It sounded like they appreciated having a wide variety of people, and I'm sure they don't yet have a Dutch Micropalaeontologist. They also said that my PGCertHE made me perfectly qualified. And nothing would happen yet; they don't teach over the summer break, and their courses start generally in August or September. And I would have to liaise with their planners. And of course I needed to be officially registered.
When we were done we sent goodbye. I felt good! And then I did my official registration, and sent the planners my documents. We will see what happens next!
I did wonder if there was something wrong with having a side job next to an academic job, but quite quickly I caught myself and figured this was exactly one of the problems with academics. They get brainwashed into thinking you can't do anything other than your job! The people have lives next to their job. Some people raise children. Some people maintain a high profile sports career. Some people have a sheep farm. And side jobs are not uncommon; I know people who run their own business next to their job in University, or who write novels, and whatnot. I also managed to learn Welsh next to my job and I don't regret that at all. And if I do a Welsh class one evening a week, then I should be able to teach adults one evening a week! I think my horizon just got a little bit broader…
|Some of my teaching materials. I thank Wikipedia for an English version of the "kofschip"! Show numbers|