An inside look: The life of a teacher

English is a subject who to many may seem uninteresting at a simple glance but, upon closer inspection, it houses a diversity of topics. Many people consider it their favourite language or subject, even wanting to pursue it in the future.

We had the pleasure of talking to one of the newer teachers of this prestigious institution: Mr. Enache Valeriu. In this article, you will discover what being a teacher really is about and why he chose this path.

A little birdy told us that you’ve been a student here ever since 1st grade up to 12th grade. Is this true?

It’s very true.

You’ve seen this school go through many changes along the years. What do you think were the most significant changes from when you were a student vs now that you’re a teacher here?

I think the most evident change: the structural change. The school used to be a lot smaller back then. The whole area adjacent to the sports hall, that was nonexistent. The whole courtyard was just one courtyard, not two as it is now, back then it was just one continuous area. The teachers are mostly the same as they were back then. Very small changes. Romanian teachers, English teachers, German teachers are the same. Another change is that there are less rules, I think, like the uniforms for example. We had to wear uniforms, which was a yellow T-shirt with a colored dot. High schoolers had a dark blob, symbol for the school, the primary graders they had a red one and the middle schoolers a green one. We had to wear those, otherwise we would be marked absent.

What made you choose this profession?

I had no other alternative left. I tried to force myself that I didn’t want to become a teacher. When I was your age I would say the same thing “That’s such a horrible profession. I don’t want to do that, that’s disgusting. I want to leave this place, this school”. I didn’t want to come here again. It’s such an irony now that I’m here 10 years after I finished. So I studied Foreign Languages and the obvious thing for me to do was translating and I did that, but that’s just not something that you can live off. You cannot earn a living with translation alone. So I had to do some other things. I also had a hatred towards Multinational Companies and I despised desk work. So I did my best not to end up in one, especially because for a Foreign Languages student it was the obvious thing to do, the easiest thing that you can do. I didn’t want to do that so I had to find alternatives, I was set in my ways that teacher’s not an option. I started working as a bartender and as a hotel receptionist, at a  5 to go place. But I never managed to find satisfaction in any of these jobs. I enjoyed them, there were perks, but I was feeling like I was wasting all those years in college. I studied so much, I translated so many things and I’m working at a bar. Something was missing. Someone approached me on Facebook and asked me if I wanted to teach German at a private school. I was like “I have nothing better to do. Why not give it a go, see what happens.” I went there and took the interview, I was invited to teach a couple of lessons and at the end they told me that they can hire me if I wanted. That’s how it started. During my trial I realized that it’s not that bad, actually. I think I had luck with that particular class, they were very nice, friendly and very interested in me. It was just like a tiny little seed being planted in there. Afterwards, I think I worked there for a couple of months, I was still going to college so my schedule was a bit at odds with the school so I had to quit eventually. That was when I decided that maybe I should continue doing this. I finished my studies and then I had to take a lot of exams and study a lot and I’m still doing it. This summer fortunately I won’t have to take any exams so I’m happy about that, but in 2024 I’ll have to take another exam.

What would you say to students that are struggling with school or work-life balance? Especially the ones that are heading off to college soon.

I’m not a very optimistic person. Things will get harder. If you think things are hard now, wait until you get older. I was never aiming for 10s and I think that really helped me when I was in school. I think it’s very difficult to aim for straight 10s for every subject. For me, that would be impossible. I always concentrated on those subjects that I considered important, that I enjoyed studying for such as English, Romanian, Music. I was satisfied with taking an 8 at Geography or a 4 at Maths. I was fine with that. This is another difference between how things worked back then when I was a student and how things are now: appreciation for grades. You didn’t throw tantrums when you took a 9, that was a good thing. Every grade had its own value depending on the subject that we are talking about. A 4 at English was more devastating than a 4 at Maths. If I were to take a 4 I was satisfied, that’s fine. So I think what’s important is to stay true to yourself and just accept the fact that you cannot take straight 10s. You need to be able to take a 4 or a 3 and that’s fine, that’s not a disaster.

What tips do you have for this generation’s future teachers?

I think I am too young for that, I don’t think Iโ€™m able to give tips and be an example for another because these are still my first years in this world. It’s not the first time I’ve taught but it’s still pretty new, a new chapter in my life so I don’t think I’m in the position giving advice. The pay is not good, that I can tell you. Then again I’am also a person that appreciates having more free time and less money, so I am good with that. I don’t have to pay any rent and also for the bank.

 Do you have any projects in mind?

Next year I was planning to start a book club, I want to have guests like translates, writers or anyone in this area. Others than that I don’t have any projects. This book club is my priority.

Daria Coman Clara Ghebrea