I have been teaching here at Diapalante for over one month now, which has been plenty of time to get into the rhythm of the centre. Its rhythm is rather irregular, however; the teaching we do here is completely unlike any teaching done in the UK. The nature of the centre means we never know who will turn up when. We could have any number of people, of any age and any ability, on any given day. This of course presents its challenges, but it makes the work we do so much more rewarding!
The variety within the members and their abilities means that the lessons we teach differ massively. Within the same day, you could end up teaching the times tables, the colours in English, and how to structure an essay – sometimes even at the same time! And the size of classes is very diverse as well, as a lesson can have anywhere from 3 to 30 students. In general, however, the lessons tend to follow the same sort of pattern. With the very young members, we do basic arithmetic and reading, as well as some IT work. For the majority of the members, there are classes in English at various levels, with the more advanced students helping the ones who are struggling in the large mixed classes. There are also maths classes for those who need a bit of extra help outside of school. And for the members whose English is very advanced, we hold debates and discussions in English. On top of that, everyone can benefit from various arts and crafts, science, and practical lessons on our Maker Days, and there are also coding and computing classes, including Scratch Saturdays. Although we can never prepare specific lessons, a bank of pre-prepared exercises and an ability to think on your feet is indispensable. And the older members are always happy to help corral the younger ones if needed! Despite the challenges that we have to face teaching at the centre, it is incredibly rewarding. The feeling when you have a class of ten-year-olds silently working, when someone who previously struggled now understands, or even the knowledge that, to some people, the centre is their only opportunity to learn, all that makes the stress absolutely worth it.
The members themselves are obviously what the centre is all about and I have been thoroughly impressed by them. In the end, every single one of them is there to learn, and although some of the younger ones might need a bit of a push, even they will settle and learn with the right incentive! And the number of teenagers and adults who are all incredibly motivated and driven was the nicest surprise! They all enjoy participating in lessons, and (in the case of some of the younger members) playing at teacher! I can already see the improvement in some of the members, and I’m looking forward to helping and teaching them as the year progresses!