Last day at a school in Garachico in Tenerife in the Canary Islands

The best job I have ever had was working at a school

Yesterday I had to say goodbye to all the children and the teachers I had been working with for the last four months in what has been the most enjoyable job I have ever had in the Canary Islands, so for me it was a very sad day. I have been employed as a classroom assistant helping Goretty Romero who is the English teacher at CEIP Antonio del Valle Menendez school in Garachico, Tenerife.

I was only there as a temporary while Pia the lady who normally does this job was away on maternity leave. One of the girls at the school said she hoped Pia would get pregnant again and have another baby and then I could come back. I must admit that I had been kind of hoping she would decide she wasn't going to return but my hopes were in vain and I knew I had to leave.

For me the school had become almost like a second home and I have really enjoyed working with all the children. Being a singer-songwriter and guitarist proved to be ideal for a job, which entails a lot of songs and I found a really appreciative audience for my singing and playing.

School photos from Tenerife

The card the children made for me
The card the children made for me
Bard of Ely and the children in the English classroom
Bard of Ely and the children in the English classroom
Bard of Ely sings and plays to the class
Bard of Ely sings and plays to the class
Jungle poster
Jungle poster
Bard of Ely and the English class
Bard of Ely and the English class

Peace Day and John Lennon's Imagine

Just after I started back in January, I learned that the school was going to have a Peace Day celebration and some of the classes were already learning John Lennon's classic song Imagine. I suggested to Goretty that my song Real Love and Communication would be ideal for the event too and for a couple of weeks the children practiced the song with lyric sheets to help them remember the words.

On the big day I felt really proud to have my song included in the performance and I sang it on stage backed by the children and Goretty. Afterwards one of the boys called Juan said he thought my song was better than Imagine. What an incredible compliment this was.

The days begun with classes of the very young children and we had a routine where I would hold up weather symbol cards with sun, blue sky, cloudy or rain being the options. Another routine was to ask the class what the date today was and we had opening songs, a weather song and a "It's time for English" song and many more.

Hangman

We used flashcards to help the children learn the images and words and also played games like hangman and noughts and crosses and bingo. Sometimes I would read sentences or words as a dictation test. We all usually had a lot of fun in the classes.

Sometimes I would have to pick a number between one and twenty, one and thirty or one and a hundred and the children had to guess what it was. Quite often one of the class would get it right straight away and I felt like this was telepathy.

Old MacDonald

I suggested to Goretty that Old MacDonald would be a great song for the children and that became another we practiced for weeks with flashcards on the board of a pig, hen, duck, horse, sheep and cow so the children could learn the names and Goretty and I could remember the order of animals we were singing about.

Coco Pops

Often the children wanted to sing the song before we were ready and it was easy to see and hear that they all loved this song. I also introduced them to the jingle for the Coco Pops cereal with its lyrics about how Coco Monkey and Alan Anteater would prefer a bowl of Coco Pops to leaves or ants.

I found a big poster of a jungle with wild animals including an anteater and stuck it on the wall, and I also bought some packets of Coco Pops so the children could see the cereal and characters I was singing about.

Let it Be

On my last two days, I sang for every class and besides the songs already mentioned, in one class I also sang my Kingfisher and Superhero songs plus The Beatles' Let it Be. In that class we did Real Love and Communication again and some of the children still had their lyric sheets, which they shared with each other to get the words right. It was a truly moving performance and I wish it could have been captured on video.

On the final day the children from one of the classes presented me with a big card they had made filled with messages saying how they would miss me, how they loved me and wishing me good luck. Alicia, who is another teacher at the school, had drawn a picture of me in the card too.

Goretty asked the children to come down the front of the class and read out their messages and I was almost in tears as they did so. I have put it on my wall and it is something I will always treasure.

Finally, I had to go but I said I will visit and will come back to play some songs if they have any more festival day celebrations. It was really hard walking away from all my new friends and a place that has become like a second home to me. Now I am hoping I can somehow find another job like this but want a permanent position next time.

Garachico, Tenerife

© 2009 Steve Andrews

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Comments 33 comments

cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

A great experience Brad, am sure you'll get called back again for another relieving job. I teach at international schools and that's basically what my job is like!


CJStone profile image

CJStone 7 years ago from Whitstable, UK

Hi Steve, I knew it would be a perfect job for you, and I'm sure there will be plenty more English teaching classes in Tenerife. Perhaps you could consider doing a TEFL course, and go into this full time. I can't imagine a better teacher than you. Good luck with finding another job, which I am sure will be just as enjoyable!


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for your comments Cindy and Chris!

Chris, I don't know how I can do a TEFL course from here but I'll look into it. I wish I had known about these jobs years back - well, I did of course but no one ever encouraged me to be a teacher for small kids. It is the perfect job for me and much better and less stressful than media and entertainment jobs. In all other jobs I have ever had there have always been things I didn't agree with or people I couldn't get on with or crazy rules or something I hated but not in this. It was all my idea of a perfect job. My Spanish was improving too. This is the sort of work I need.


Georgiakevin profile image

Georgiakevin 7 years ago from Central Georgia

Sounds like a delightful experience for you,your students and the staff at the school. If you are ever in Georgia you would always be welcome in my classroom!


Lou Purplefairy profile image

Lou Purplefairy 7 years ago from Southwest UK

Steve, I did some work as a classroom assistant some years ago, specialising in Art and Design, working with 5 and 6 year olds and i must say it was very rewarding, so I fully understand how difficult it has been for you to say goodbye. I think its wonderful, that such a knowledgable and talented man as yourself has been able to pass on some of your wisdom and music to these lucky kids. It really is a rewarding experience and I am sure that you will be able to continue in this line of work. In Devon in the UK, the local education authority has an arts initiative, where local artists and musicians can sign up to the scheme, which allows them to go into schools and colleges and hold workshops, so maybe that is a way forward if you approach the education council on the island. Children are great fun to work with, and I always found that their blatant honesty and energy always knocked me sideways (in a good way!) and gave me renewed perspective on such a tragic world. Perhaps you can write some songs in Spanish for the kids to sing in scool when you visit, with the verses in english too, so that they understand the translation, which will do wonders for your own spanish linguistics. Good luck with finding a new job! x


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you, Georgiakevin and Lou!

Lou, I have realised whilst doing this job that maybe I should have been writing kids' songs and trying to get them published. Some of the songs on the official course are terrible but others I admit are really catchy. Somebody gets paid for writing and recording these.

In these jobs here one of the rules is that the children are supposed to think you don't know any Spanish. It doesn't make a lot of sense because in the same guidelines the children are supposed to ask you how you say ... in English so if you don't know the Spanish how can you? So songs in English are fine for them.


Gypsy Willow profile image

Gypsy Willow 7 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

Touching story, Steve. Seems you have a new job as a songwriter. Do you have any youtubes of your singing? Delightful place to work.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks, Gypsy! I am already a songwriter but one who hardly earns anything at that game being unsigned. You will find my song and music videos here: http://www.youtube.com/bardofely

The songs Kingfisher and Superhero mentioned in the article are in my live videos but nothing was filmed in the school unfortunately.

I am going to record Old MacDonald as a video performance in the near future.


Lou Purplefairy profile image

Lou Purplefairy 7 years ago from Southwest UK

Steve, I was raised listening to Burl Ives and I still love his songs for kids! Horace the Horse, What Kind of Animal Are You? and There Was An Old Woman all remind me of my early childhood and I still get more than a bit nostalgic listening to his work. I can see you putting some stories together to music for kids to learn, which are fun and educational. Music is a fantastic medium to communicate environmental issues to children and I found with both of my kids, information stayed in their minds much longer if it was learned thru song. Perhaps you can tell a musical story of te lifecylce of your beloved Monarch Butterflies, or Smudge's adventures of stealing dollies, or even a ditty about how you found such a loving companion in your beautiful Tiggy! I find it far easier to write for children than I do for adults, as my imagination is still very much caught up in the realms of fairies and magic, talking animals and castles in the sky, which most children love to hear about. Good luck, and I hope you are inspired to create even more beautiful work. I look forward to hearing all about it!


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

The songs are from a much happier world than the madness of the real one that's for sure. It's all very much in the idea stage for me though, Lou - I have so many ideas and some become realities and others don't and some get started on and I still have to finish. I don't know what the rest of the year has in store for me but I have bought a printer and scanner so can use this to help me promote myself. I now know, however, that the best job for me is working as a children's teacher and that's what I have learned from this.


MindField profile image

MindField 7 years ago from Portland, Oregon

Dear Bard of Ely - This is the first of your hubs I've read and I was entranced. Like me, you find that what is in your head and heart conflict with too much of what is around you. It is not surprising that amongst youngsters you have discovered that place where the good in you meets the good in them - and where a new world could be born if everyone would just let it.

I agree with Lou Purplefairy about song being a perfect way to teach and learn. Anything can be a song. Make the rhyme strong (something I admit to being good at) and the music uplifting (something I couldn't do on a dare), remember the songs of our childhood and that of our parents and grandparents, and you won't go wrong.

That you're leaving a job you love with both sadness and hope in your heart says it all - it's the door closing and the window opening. Fly, fly through that window, Bard, and we'll watch you soar to new heights!


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you, Mindfield! What you say here: "amongst youngsters you have discovered that place where the good in you meets the good in them - and where a new world could be born if everyone would just let it" makes good sense to me.


Lou Purplefairy profile image

Lou Purplefairy 7 years ago from Southwest UK

I think you would make a fantastic children's teacher Steve, and I wish you all the luck in the world in pursuing that career path. As a parent I have spent the last 13 years working with kids of all ages and abilities and it is such a rewarding experience. I agree with both you and MindField about the good in adults and kids meeting and new worlds being born. In my experience, children of today have far more to teach us, than we can teach them. I have been battling the UK education system for the best part of 7 years now, with getting proper recognition and education for my own kids, and kids like them, as both of them are Indigos. So many people do not understand these kids, but I have encountered a fair few educators in the UK system who actually understand them, which is encouraging, but these brilliant teachers and classroom assistants are having to work with their "hands tied" because of old and worn out systems, which are not changing quickly enough, frustrating those on the "front line" and failing the kids. Kids are quite astute at sussing out which adults are on their level, and its with these educators that they are willling to open up and work with them, producing fantastic results and some very profound experiences. Its just a real shame that more people are not willing to see that the focus of our lives should be on truthfully educating our children and making it as fun as possible, as this world really belongs to them, not us. Touching on what MindField said about grandparents teaching children thru songs, I have also found that younger kids respond far better to adults of their grandparents generation as far as learning goes, because they tend to have far more patience, wisdom and understanding with the children. I have worked with many older people in primary schools and even initiated a scheme with the youth club at the local community centre where some of the retired members of the community centre came and taught fun skills like cooking, crafts, fishing, playing music, told stories, played games etc with the kids (aged 6- 14) in an effort to close the generation gap, as many, many children in the UK (especially where I live) do not have any contact with their grandparents or even adults of their grandparents' generation, and many older people do not have contact with their grandchildren or even have grandchildren, so it was a win-win situation.

Anything I can do to help as far as promotion goes, shout me, as I am more than happy to help, even if it is in some small way.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Lou, it has been a real learning experience for me in many ways. I had never realised I would be any good at this but I am. It is probably because I have a lot of child in my makeup. I never "grew up" properly, thankfully!


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States

Some of your nature and insect hubs and music related ones tell me that you are one great "natural" teacher and it's wonderful to know that you got as much out of it as you gave. I teach English as a second language and feel much the same way every time I say goodbye to a student.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you, Jerilee! A friend of mine called Stefania who lives on the island once said to me before I got the job that I was already a teacher but I didn't get paid for it. Now I am back to that state again but with four month's experience under my belt.


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

I have done som ESL teaching at this level, too. Music is a natural tool for learning language and a lot of other things. It's always very sad when schools feel a budget crunch and the first things to be cut out are music and art-- the very things children like the most.

 Your tales  out of school reminded me of days in the classroom.

Hope you find the perfect opportunity to use your talents and your joy.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you too, Rochelle!


k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California

What an extremely touching story! "It was a truly moving performance and I wish it could have been captured on video." I really wished you had captured it on video also, I would have loved to see it. I wish you luck in finding another position. Just remember, the music teacher will probably always welcome you! You seem to have a way with the children!


Writer Rider 7 years ago

That's so funny, bard with a tie.


Jeff Stoll 7 years ago

Great article. Sorry you lost your job. I hope you find another as great real soon.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for your comments, badcompany99, K@ri, Writer Rider and Jeff!

Badcompany99, the funny thing is that unlike you I hated my own schooldays and I was always glad to get away from school. Please see my hub about it all entitled Schooldays on the hub link above the Comments section. I think they should be happy days though and that's why I was so glad to see the children enjoying my songs!


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

So sorry your job ended Steve. It sounds as if you had really found your niche. I so hope another similar opportunity arises for you very soon.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks, Cindy! BTW I was down Flicks yesterday and Zina asked if I was still in touch and I said you followed me to hubpages where you post a lot of your news and have found a lot of fans.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Nice one Steve, do tell her that I dumped the egotistical loser that was "Steve Le Gallez" won't you :) Give everyone in Flicks my love. Hopefully one day I may be able to come over for a holiday and say hi to everyone.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

She did ask and I said it was all over and that you had posted about it on hubpages but whether she will get to see your work on here I can't say. Many people on this island still do not use computers or the Internet much even when they have them or have access or they don't know how to. There is a video of me performing at Flicks and two regulars, Ian and Yvonne, play a big part in it and they still haven't seen it although it's been up nearly a year on Youtube. I don't think anyone else has even though I have told them about it!


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago

Bard - I enjoyed this. I was elated the day I left school and never thought a time would come when I would enjoy scholarly persuits. However, as an adult I attended Uni (loved it) and have also worked in schools on occasion.

I think it's fairly obvious that your pupils were taken with you and I sincerely hope you do find a permanent post.

The very best of luck :)


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you, frogdropping! I hated infant school and high school as a pupil, loved college as an adult where I did A-levels and a diploma in media as a student but then hated university. Now I have found that I love working teaching young children.


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago

Bard - I know this sounds a bit nuts but school wasn't so much about education (to me) as it was about conforming. Which I dislike. The absolute truth of my education was this: by the time I'd hit 11, I'd learned enough. I could read, write and form opinions. I didn't need an extra 5 years at school to polish up my ability to read etc. I was formed. I would have been far happier to have had the autonomy to choose what I wanted to continue learning (as a compromise) and concentrated on that. For e.g. I loved history and languages - but only got 2 hours collective study of both each week.

And, knowing how the UK curriculum currently works, I still think they're getting it wrong. Give kids choice, not pressure.

And if i get the chance, I will spend more of my time in the future with either kids in education or disadvanataged kids that are cast out of the system.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Yes, that it in a nutshell - it's often about conforming! It's not about teaching you how to think but about what to think! I got sent home a lot in high school for failing to conform. I got picked on in junior school and high school too by teachers and other kids. I passed my 11-plus (last year they had this) but it was downhill all the way afterwards although I often got top exam results.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 7 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

Thanks Steve, at least they know I did get rid of him once and for all. :)


maria shaw 6 years ago

Lovely, wishing you all the best for the remainder of the year xxx


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you, Maria!

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