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
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.
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.
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.
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.
© 2009 Steve Andrews