Who’da thought it, the end of August. The trees are already starting to drop their leaves – is summer really over already? Seems like it was only yesterday that I was in my little student flat in Sheffield, wishing the winter would end. That’s one thing I miss when I’m busy: I don’t have time to take in the passing seasons.

I’m now on a little First Great Western train heading south towards Devon, having left Sheffield for the final time about 5 hours ago. It’s been a good journey; all’s gone smoothly with only the compulsive nose-picker causing any discomfort. When the train stopped at Hereford I had the chance to offload my huge bag on mum and dad – they were waiting on the platform, and handed me my passport and other post in return. back on the same train, I can now travel light as I visit my siblings in the south.

CELTA – The end cometh

Yesterday, after 4 weeks of intense learning involving over 150 hours of contact time and 80 hours of homework, we finally completed our CELTA course. Of the sixteen of us that began, only one dropped out – everyone else passed – well done us!
Whilst we all sought to support everyone else, it was the other three members of our Teaching Practice groups (four groups of four) that we spent most of our time working with, and thus supporting / being supported by. Our group lost one of our members in week two (due to stress overload perhaps?/ undue lack of confidence), and whilst this was a bit of a blow, Jane, Josh and I decided that it was that bit of extra adversity that we had to overcome in order that we could go on to greater glory.
We were right to think that: when the provisional grades were handed out yesterday all three of us were delighted to be amongst those who received ‘B’s, which on average only 25% of CELTA-ites achieve.
As a group we also applauded Alice, who demonstrated such a talent for teaching that she was awarded an ‘A’ – a grade that only 5% of students achieve (as we were jokingly told at the beginning, “Only people who don’t need to come on the course achieve As”).

It had been a good final day. We’d started off with an advice session on job-hunting / TEFL CV writing (very useful), then spent some time getting our portfolios (containing records of all completed assignments / teaching practice / observation) up to date for submission. In the afternoon, some trainees gave their final lessons, whilst the rest of us were overcome by ‘creativeness’ and dreamed up a couple of videos starring a set of white board pens sporting blu-tac faces. Video shoot complete, we made our way to the garden for a celebratory party put on by the English Language Teaching Centre, for the benefit of summer school teachers and CELTA trainees. The perfect way to bring things to a close.
It felt a bit funny when we finished. We’ve been given our certificates, we’d exchanged thanks – we were free to go, but no-one moved. Was it really over? What were we supposed to do now?
After a few minutes, we started to move. Thank you, thank you, it’s been great, tough, but really enjoyed it, thank you.
Pub anyone? Sounds like a good idea.

We sat in the back garden for an hour or so chatting. Talking about the past few weeks, talking about the next few months. Some people are off to work abroad (Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, Spain to name but a few). Others are sticking around in Sheffield for a bit whilst they look for work. Some still have their degrees to complete.
We were talking about how these days, a goodbye is no longer a ‘good bye’. The reason? Facebook. With Facebook, you can contact virtually anyone incredibly easily, even without their contact details, so there seems little need for real ‘goodbyes’. It’s not that Facebook provides a continuation of real-life social interaction (although it can help alleviate feelings of sadness related to not being able to hang out with friends, as it provides small but regular doses of ‘themness’), it’s more that it increases the chances that you’ll see people again.

I find it fascinating how in this way technology has fundamentally changed what I used to feel was an important part of human interaction (saying semi-permenant goodbyes). Personally, I think this is a very good thing, as I never liked goodbyes, and the number of times I’ve met people for a second time whom I never thought I’d see again tells me that there really is no need for goodbyes anyway. But I’m grateful for Facebook for giving me a socially acceptable reason / excuse to not place great weight on partings, when social norms might dictate that I do otherwise.

Having said all that, I will miss my coursemates. Genuinely ‘good’ people, the kind of people who will make a difference wherever they go.

Anyway, the train is now approaching Newton Abbot where my brother should be waiting to pick me up. I’d best sign off.