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Kate's European Adventures.

Just a bit of an update, and a little bit about the school I’m working at –

IRELAND | Friday, 10 April 2009 | Views [570]

Been feeling I’ve got a bit slack with the email updates lately, so what better way to communicate what’s been going on than this exact journal.

Really, I’ve just been doing the same old here for the last few weeks. Work has been interesting. I’m grateful that I’ve had the work at Trinity Comprehensive in Ballymun, but the kids are something else. People are surprised that I’ve lasted this long doing the substitute work and some days, I’m really surprised at how I’ve managed to stick it out this long. The kids are so different from what I’m used to; they come from this completely different background and it’s hard for them to adjust to the differences between home life and school. Authority figures of any description are just not people they deal well with at all. And the swearing is the hardest part. I know that it’s just words, but the consistency of it is what wears you down. I’m so happy that after the Easter break I’ll be going into my own permanent English classes. It’s a maternity position, that I certainly had to jump through some hoops to get, but really it just seemed like a whole bunch of miss-communication going on that lead to me having to jump those hoops. Long story short, I got a contract for 6 weeks of classes and I’m so happy about that. There’s 3 exam classes (2 leaving certs and a junior cert), as well as 3 other classes, so that means lots of preparation and revision, but I’m so excited to be able to get in there and do something that I know I can do, not just the babysitting or making sure that the kids don’t stab each other with biro’s business.

The staff at the school are great, they are all really easy to get along with and have this common thing in their life, the battles (some big , some small) they face each day teaching at this school. I get the impression it’s the type of school that people work at for a short time fairly early on in their career, the ‘do their time’ and then move on to bigger and better things type of school. I don’t consider that a bad thing either because really, things can only get better from there, and nothing else will ever surprise you after seeing what these kids get up to.

I never thought when I left Australia and my safe little haven of Red Cliffs that I would be teaching in a place like Ballymun, Ireland. But I am glad that I’ve had this opportunity. It’s definitely a side of Ireland that I really didn’t know existed. The suburb of Ballymun is bizarre; it’s this little area of contrasts. There’s the new student housing estates going up, where you can see uni students lying on the grassy patches in the middle of their buildings, and there’s the community centre which is always a hive of activity – markets, fairs, film festivals, you name it. (We took some kids to see a free film the other day, turned out it was an Australian film – I was the only person laughing!) Then you have the government housing blocks which tower above everything in the background. There used to be 10 of them I’m told, now they’re down to 6, but only 4 of them actually have people living in them. The other ones are boarded up, or in the process of being torn down so they sit in piles of semi rubble. It really doesn’t do much for the spirit of the place. The kids tell me stories of junkies in the stairways (despite being 10 stories high at their tallest, these towers don’t have lifts), and things never working. You see the families washing hanging on the little spaces they call a balcony and rubbish and junk everywhere around the bottom of the facilities. Then to top it all off, there’s banners everywhere stating that Ballymun is the first entirely Fair Trade suburb in Dublin. The contradiction of the place makes me laugh.

This doesn’t sound great, but at the end of each school day, I can’t say I’m disappointed to turn my back on the suburb and walk back towards my lovely little suburb of Drumcondra. Where there’s kids playing in the yards, people walking their dogs and the tree lined streets are just the perfect finish to the immaculately kept gardens with their daffodils blooming just in time for spring.

So the burning question, am I enjoying working here? Some days yes, some days no. But I think it will get better. Having my own classes will make things a lot better, the kids will be seeing me as a real teacher with a class to conduct, not just someone who’s there for a ‘free class’. I’m glad I’m sticking it out, but I am excited there’s only 6 more weeks until summer holidays!

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