by Christopher Walker (head tutor)
When I was offered a teaching position for this summer with the Stirling School of English, I thought: this will be good. But what I didn’t know was how good it would be. It wasn’t good. It was amazing. In fact, it was one of the best teaching experiences I’ve had in my ten-year career as an English teacher.
And for that I need to thank everybody at the school, and most particularly the students.
Right from the beginning my students were all wonderful. More than that, even: all of the students were wonderful, but I didn’t know that until the first day-trip, which took us to the quaint town of Callander. It was there that I really got to know the rest of the school’s students, and not just those who had joined my class. They offered me food when we reached the top of the hill we were marching up, and they chatted happily to me as we marched back down.
That first week otherwise involved rather a lot of hard work – the start of school always does. But my students showed great patience with me, explaining where to find the things I needed in Stirling, and what the difference was between Raploch and Riverside, for example. They also suggested some great places I could go to at the weekend – though, sadly, I never did visit that Syrian restaurant in Glasgow.
The other teachers were supportive too, taking on board my suggestions for their lessons and adding some of their own – I intend to steal the best of their ideas and tell my colleagues back home that I thought of them! The creche workers did a fantastic job through our Family Learning initiative and thanks to the hard work of those involved, it was yet another one of the successes we enjoyed.
The weeks went by so quickly. Students came and went – though many stayed with us for the whole four-week program – and I learnt so much about Syria, Sudan, Kurdistan, Kuwait, Brazil, Hungary, Spain… well, the list goes on. I shall miss many things about Stirling. I’ll miss the singing of the seagulls; I’ll miss the castle looking down on me as I walk to school each day; and I’ll miss my long walks by the river, the Wallace Monument sitting proudly in the distance. But more than anything I shall miss my students, those wonderful people who greeted me every single day with a smile, who kept smiling through our lessons (even when we spent a whole morning exploring conditionals!), and who still had a smile for me when we said our goodbyes at four o’clock. We explored Stirling together, as well as Edinburgh, Linlithgow, and Dunblane, and when I think about these places after I return home, I will remember most of all the time I spent with my new friends.